Friday, July 22, 2011

Create a white room fantasy

(NC)—Do you have white room envy?

A busy life makes the vision of a tranquil space – where light pours through fine, billowing sheers onto a shiny white floor and across rich textures of beautiful minimalist furnishings – very appealing. It's a fantasy place where the chaos of the world melts away, to be replaced by a peaceful calm.

But doing white right is hugely demanding and requires great discipline. White has rules. Here they are:

Natural light is essential. Natural light is full–spectrum. If it comes in from more than one direction, it sculpts the shapes in the room and brings white to life. Use white sheers to soften the look without reducing its light. Add shiny materials to bounce it around – polished marble, crystal, and mirror; light silks and satins. If you don't have lots of natural light, colour is a better option for you than white.

Get the right white. Pick white with the same care you would take to choose any other colour. Architects often use whites that are too pure, too cold and too loud. Their whites make it look as if you haven't painted yet. Instead, choose a toned white like Winter Mood (512–1) by PPG Pittsburgh Paints. It's softer, but still luminous. The bigger the room, the deeper the white should be. Paraffin (PPG Pittsburgh Paints, 521–2) will look white but not empty. In the country, choose a white that is a little warmer or a little more grounded such as Gravel (PPG Pittsburgh Paints 416–2). It will take the formal edge off white and relax it.

Paint ceiling and trim the same white as the walls. Or, to add a little interest without interrupting that sought–after white calm, add a pale blue–grey colour like Icy Bay (PPG Pittsburgh Paints 551–1) to put sky on the ceiling.

Explore sheen. Satin on the ceiling adds light and sparkle. High–gloss trim looks elegant in the city. Matte finishes are better in the country on all surfaces.

Colour Reduction. White is a snob. It likes its own company and finds any and every other colour an intrusion, so get rid of colour clutter and bring back only neutrals, very muted and faded pastels or, best of all, the colour that comes with natural materials like wood (blondes preferred), and metals (preferably silver or pewter). For drama use black's complementary colour, black.

Less is More. Better is Better. White rooms should not be overloaded with too much furniture and each piece must be worthy of attention. White will not camouflage dirt, damage or disorder the way colour does. Everything is revealed in a white room, so furniture becomes sculpture. Good or bad, it takes centre–stage, so every piece should be well proportioned and timelessly appealing, and each should have air around it. This keeps the room spacious and light on its feet.

Go for textured and tactile. While we covet white because it reduces the visual noise, it is very important to add tactile elements to keep it from looking and feeling clinical. Contrast shine and shimmer with a variety of textures from fur (faux is fine), velvets, and knits, to hand–scraped wood, hammered surfaces and raw, primitive things.

Go for seamless sensuality. If you have come this far, why not indulge all your senses? Animate your white space with aromatic candles, flowers and music, and the white–room fantasy will become your daily reality.

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