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Texture, color define a white room

Different shapes also help keep neutral rooms from looking bland.

Different shapes also help keep neutral rooms from looking bland.

June 28, 2005|by CHRISTINE BRUN /Copley News Service

White is often the color people choose for small homes, rightly believing that it will cause the rooms to appear larger. But all-white or neutral rooms are the hardest of all to create because of the risk that the space will turn out to look bleak, bland and sterile. The secrets to avoiding that pitfall are texture, color accents and shape.

One easy way to introduce texture is in the largest element: the floor. In the photo shown here a heavily braided natural area rug introduces strong texture. This is a wonderful choice for this particular room because the walls are hardwood paneling with wood built-in cupboards.

Often the floors of a cottage are old wood boards or a nicer quality of maple or oak. The juxtaposition of rough-hewn against smooth finished wood lends a great deal of character. Look for sisal, coco fiber and sea grass rugs in retail showrooms, mail-order catalogs and online resources.

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Next consider the shape and design of the upholstered bed in this little bedroom. While plain white, the graduated scallops of the upholstered headboard appear at once both crisp and soft. Neat precision is further communicated by the button tufting and thick matelasse fabric. Positioned next to the white wood paneling, the bed seems even more comfortable and squishy.

When working in white, it is critical that you define the boundaries of each individual piece. Here the striped seersucker duvet cover and pillow shams provide a little movement from the pure white of the sheets to the warmer tone of the woven rug. They also create a bridge between the subtle white environment and the forwardness of the orange throw. The repetition of orange in the bed tray is enough to deliver spice into an otherwise pure-white color scheme.

Juxtapose soft and hard; look for opposites and complementary accessories. Toss in some radical color if you want to shake up the room. Add soft color if you want a more serene environment. The mood of this bedroom would be completely different if the throw and tray were a soft pink cashmere instead of the retro orange color.

The night table is inspired by a 1930s original and features open fretwork in a geometric pattern. The ambience of the room could be quite different if the side table became a 30-inch round with a table skirt in soft pink topped off by a piece of vintage lace. In this case the tray might be silver or white.

The lamp could be replaced by a more traditional candlestick style. The large sculptural philodendron leaves could be replaced with a cut crystal vase and roses. Suddenly, the all-white room would take on a totally different flavor.

By paying careful attention to the details of size and shape in the all-white room, you can alter the rhythm and feel of the space. Think in terms of smooth/bumpy, natural/machined, soft/hard, rounded/square and luxurious next to plain. Then enjoying combining your all-white elements in a variety of fascinating ways.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at cbaintdes@hotmail.com or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

Copley News Service

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