Monochromatic

All white interior trends—how to make them work in your home



Monochromatic color schemes have been a sophisticated and refined interior style for hundreds of years. In this regard monochromatic simply means rooms that use one color predominantly. The color can be changed in saturation and hue but is still basically one color. This article will focus on using an all-white color palette. When we say white we mean all shades of white ranging from snow white to darker creamy beiges, tans and even soft golden browns. 

The best way to make a room like this work is by using not only like colors, but also by using different textures, sheen levels and stunning focal points. By using textures such as burlap, linens, fluffy fur throws or pillows and rich sumptuous shag carpets, a monochromatic room can suddenly become a showstopping space. 

One thing to remember, however, is that all whites do not necessarily work together. Combining multiple whites artfully can be just as challenging as putting any other blend of colors together.

A good rule of thumb is to limit your whites to about four or five, at the most, in one space. This will give the space more interest and depth in layers. The whites should match the architecture of the space as well. Cottage whites are more creamy and soft in color whereas contemporary whites need to be crisp and sharp. As with any color, there are cool whites and warm whites, which means they either have a blue undertone base (cool) or a yellow undertone base (warm). Mixing cool whites with warm ones will give a dingy and discordant look to the space.

It is with texture that the space is going to get its “verve.” Shiny, bright white lacquer, next to a deep, rich, thick piled carpet, next to linen panels on the windows is where the art lies in creating a monochromatic space that sizzles.

Remember to play up the architectural features in the room by using one shade of white on the floors or ceilings and beams, but perhaps a different shade on the wainscoting or paneling. Using different sheens of paint on these areas also adds interest. Lighting is extremely important in a monochromatic room to highlight architectural elements and artwork or to wash walls. Be sure to choose bulbs that are casting the same tone of light as the whites being used—cool bulbs for cool whites and warm bulbs for warm whites. This will help to mirror the room’s warm or cool undertones.

Dashes of color can make the room pop as well. A dark metal framed chair or some pale woods, or even a dash of a bright color here or there adds another layer to the room and a new dimension. Have fun with the lighting fixtures, for these will become major focal points in a monochromatic space. A dazzling chandelier or a whimsical, contemporary pendant lamp adds immediate interest and pizzazz.

Using transparent or reflective surfaces such as mirror and glass will add the illusion of more whites, yet will lend sparkle and diversity to the color scheme. Acrylic or mirrored furniture, glass and crystal will boost the texture in the space. 

Monochromatic spaces can work across the board to achieve nearly every style of decor desired—from shabby chic, country or cottage-style spaces using creamy distressed whites and rough boards, fabrics and crystal lighting, to contemporary or glam spaces using sharp, crisp cool whites, lacquered finishes, polished nickel or brass, and artfully shaped sculptures and lighting fixtures. 

If done correctly, there is nothing boring whatsoever about monochromatic spaces. They are truly timeless and beautiful, and create a serene environment in which to live and work.