While its greatest strength is that it works well with any hue, white has a variety of tones - bright, off-white or antique - that are more effective with some colors than others.
According to Shari Hiller, co-host of the PBS series Around the House with Matt and Shari, choosing the right shade of white isn't different from choosing other colors. For instance, to get a good match, she suggests using the white that's in an upholstered piece or other soft furnishings to determine the shade that will be used elsewhere in a room.
The White Connection
A bright white coordinates well with modern decor that may include charcoal gray, silver and black. Off-white is more traditional and complements many shades of blue, sage green or dusty rose. Antique white is similar to off-white, but has a slight yellow undertone which allows it to work best against hardwood furniture and kitchen cabinetry.
In a small space, using hues that contrast with white tends to draw attention to it and away from the small dimensions of the room.
Better Homes and Gardens magazine states that white also creates a sense of spaciousness when it reflects from light sources around a room. The magazine recommends taking advantage of natural light by limiting window treatments in a small room to window blinds or shades only.
Homeowners may want to consider choosing blinds that are the same color as the walls, which allows them to convey the impression of an unbroken surface. White curtains or shutters, often used in country-style decorating, are attractive by themselves or combined with window shades.
Bathed in White
A monochromatic color scheme featuring white is easy to achieve in bathrooms because they often have white tubs, sinks and commodes already in place. Add in several shades of white in different textures such as bone-colored grass cloth on the walls.
White also has an air of elegance that makes a bathroom feel spa-like. In this spirit, installing radiant floor heating gives homeowners the comfort of stepping onto warm floors rather than cold tiles when they come out of the shower or tub.
A white theme can be emphasized with accessories. Clear jars filled with white and cream-colored candles, white flowers and porcelain pieces are some items that can be used effectively in this scenario.
Floor-to-ceiling shelves painted white are a good showcase for both white and brightly colored things to display.