The Secret to Timeless Design? White, White and More White!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Fresh Eyes For Your Home

Whether it's your new white kitchen or a new upholstered sofa - nothing is as timeless as white.

For years, white furniture was considered casual and beachy.  White walls were considered boring and institutional and white bedding reminded us too much of our grandma's house- remember those old white chenille bedspreads?  

Now you know that I love color, but honestly, what doesn't work well with white? As a designer,  I absolutely love a white canvas because of the endless possibilities that it presents.  And, there are so many shades of white that work well together that just by varying the texture, you could do an entire room in white and not get bored.

If you are afraid of white, why not start in the bedroom? It certainly gets the least amount of traffic and you don't really have to worry about dirty shoes  or red wine spills by strangers!

In the bedroom on the left, white dominates the scheme.  The dark floors, dark beams as well as a dark wood bed could never look as beautiful and dramatic against any other color.  The pop of red on the desk chair and on the desk, add just the right amount of punch.  We could have used a bright pink or turquoise as well but classic red does the trick here.

A bright white ceiling, grayish white walls and an off white carpet set the perfect backdrop for this colorful bedroom.  The yellow, teal and lime green palette fear no competition against that white background and the lovely area rug on the floor gives the off white carpeting a bit more life.  The eye goes directly to that rug and any imperfections in the carpet can be overlooked.  The upholstered bed is absolutely fearless and would never work as well with more intensity on the walls.


And, if you feel you need a little color on the walls, using a bright white trim gives that color even more intensity. In the bedroom on the right, the blues are crisper and the white crystal chandelier really pops.  The white marble surround of the fireplace is clearly a focal point for this bedroom.  Simple linens that incorporates white and a neutral gray give the other colors the breathing space they deserve and  there is absolutely nothing casual or beachy about these sophisticated bedrooms!


Just like basic black in clothing, white rooms are timeless.  I love to vary the textures to any room where white dominates to add interest and depth. But there is no doubt that in design, my secret weapon is definitely white, white and more white! Oh, what a color! 



Comments (32)

Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Good afternoon Patricia Feager and James Dray and Raymond E. Camp and Sheila Anderson and Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 - in all honesty, colors stand out better with white in the picture.  Gray can dirty other colors unless they are extremely vibrant like a teal or a hot pink- but white  gives other colors the opportunity to really shine and as Julie Larsen said, she loves her new white kitchen and she feels that the options for expanding the color scheme are unlimited!

Jan 24, 2017 11:16 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate

Our whole home is devoted to white ceilings whilte walls and gray walls, intermixed. It has been wonderful for me to change the color scheme and not have the background interfere. Makes my art "pop", as well as my colorful pillows. I am a primary color girl...must be that part of me never grew up! However, I'm doing many sepia tone types of photos of mine as that is quite popular in a country setting. 


Jan 24, 2017 05:09 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Joanna... I've always loved how fresh and crisp white makes everything look (including my complexion when I wear it!). I love using white and black in my home and have for years.

Jan 24, 2017 11:58 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Good evening Nina Hollander , I actually have not used enough white in my own home except for my kitchen and one black and white bathroom and if I move, I intend to alter that palette with way more white!

Jan 24, 2017 04:45 PM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share. 

I hope you are enjoying a very productive January.

Jan 25, 2017 03:04 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the photos and the post. I will share it with others.

Jan 25, 2017 04:48 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Thank you so much Roy Kelley and Gita Bantwal and glad that you liked my advice on this one.

Jan 25, 2017 05:42 AM
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

For the first time, I have a neutral palette in our Great Room and will be doing the kitchen in whites ( actually creams). I can't wait - and love how fun it is to mix things up with different accessories in color.  

Jan 25, 2017 11:47 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Can't wait to see the end result Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD - I am sure with your taste it will be beautiful so have fun with it!

Jan 25, 2017 02:05 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Joanna Cohlan ,

I love your post and the third photo rings with me. We have white ceilings but I do like the gray and taupe paint with our white plantation shutters though out for a classic feel with our wood floors. I'm a fan of yours for sure and love reading your have it down!!

Jan 31, 2017 05:50 PM
Joanna Cohlan

I think we have a mutual admiration society Dorie Dillard - leaving for Japan on Monday and I am sure that I will pick up some great design ideas given their love of simplicity!  Have a great weekend my dear.

Feb 16, 2017 05:32 AM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

Those color combinations are all stunning on a white background. White says clean and crisp to me and is limitless in the possibilities.

Feb 06, 2017 07:04 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

White can certainly make a room much brighter! And when sunshine hits white? Even more so.

Feb 16, 2017 03:32 AM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Good morning Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 and Dorie Dillard and Debbie Reynolds and Kat Palmiotti - so glad that you girls are on my team with an affinity for white paint-it really does sooth the eye and is so classic!

Feb 16, 2017 05:31 AM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905

I'm not a "white" girl (), but when moving into our rural country ranch property that had been painted white and gray (albeit a couple of different gray colors, as if they ran out of one and picked the wrong gray), I felt that it was classic and I could do virtually anything as far as art, pillows, etc. for pops of color that I could change throughout the seasons and it wouldn't fight with my personal furnishings, and decor. Larry just repainted it the same colors, and made sure the gray throughout was the exact gray--one of them had a purplish tint to it that the painted over. God love him! I didn't help much. 

Feb 16, 2017 06:34 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Joanna - I really love your post.  I think you have a great eye!

Feb 16, 2017 01:21 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

So glad to have read this.  I was thinking I was going to re-tile/re-surface my 2 bathroom floors and laundry room with white.  Then I was thinking about updating the tub/showers with, again white.  I thought "too much white?!?"  So I happy to read that I have nothing to be concerned with.

Feb 22, 2017 02:31 PM
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

White is a blank canvas and will support anything you want to do with other colors.  But there are some of us who go snow-blind in too much white and it becomes too sterile.  Even with texture. 

Feb 22, 2017 06:46 PM
Beth Bromund
Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel - Rochester, MI
REALTOR (248) 651-3500

I love how the white jumps out from the gray in the third photo.  White does make other colors pop.

Feb 22, 2017 06:56 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Congratulations on your feature - I will share this with clients getting ready to go on the market! 

Feb 22, 2017 07:50 PM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Good afternoon Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 and Grant Schneider - just back from Japan so late to the response but thank you both for checking inwith me on this post-nothing like a combo of white and gray- to me so crisp and classic!

Hi there Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 - glad I could help-there is never too much white!

Mar 05, 2017 02:55 PM
Joanna Cohlan
Fresh Eyes For Your Home - Chappaqua, NY
Designing, Decorating & Staging Westchester Homes

Hi there Mick Michaud - I know what you mean about snow blind but the right whites can be soothing to the eye!

Hey there Beth Bromund and Lise Howe - thank you for stopping by - white is really the gold standard for paint- it is finding the right white that is the challenge for most people!

Mar 05, 2017 02:56 PM