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Are white jeans the fashion equivalent of the white room? A crisp, clean (and glamorous) look but impossible to keep, well, white? I have an awesome pair of white jeans that I never wear. Ever. Because it seems that any time I wear white, I manage to dribble something on myself, like bright yellow mustard. Likewise, I doubt I’ll ever enjoy the luxury of a white-on-white room. (Can you say pet owner?) Design icon Syrie Maugham popularized the all-white room in the 1920s and ’30s, earning the nickname “White Queen.” Fast forward to 2011. Designer Jonathan Adler never hesitates to don his signature white jeans, and many of his top decor pieces are in a bright white. The author of Happy Chic Colors calls white “the ultimate soothing backdrop.”

Syrie-Maugham-Jonathan-Adler-Interior-Design-White-Rooms-HGTV-DesignHappensPhotos: Top row and left :: Jonathan Adler Interior Design; Bottom right quadrant :: Syrie Maugham: Staging Glamorous Interiors, Acanthus Press

Soothing…until you spill something on it.

What do you think of the white-on-white look? Like white jeans, are white rooms achingly desirable but impossible to keep pristine? Or are you the proud owner of a room decked out all in white that has stayed that way for years? If so, what’s your secret?

Tell us in the comments below.

86 Responses

  1. Ashley says:

    I do love lots of white – various shades of white all together. And one point about white clothing. Bleach. One point about white *things* (I have 3 children and have lots of white) – it really is a chore to keep things clean. But would you rather something be dark – have a stain – and not be able to see it? Out of sight, out of mind? Or see the grime and do something about it? White really kind of is cleaner if you're somone willing to keep it that way.

    • Kayla@HGTV says:

      That's a great point, Ashley. I feel my dark brown/black marble countertops can hide just about anything. It's like a white car – they're sleek and gorgeous, but difficult to keep clean. If you do go the white-on-white route, I think Ashley's right; make sure you're willing to keep it spotless.

    • Katherine says:

      See, that's what I think — I also have lots of white, two kids, four cats. White slipcovers that bleach. A white wool rug that I can spot clean or shampoo if need be. White is sunny. It sparkles. I like dark rooms too for their ambience. But give me a sunny farmhouse kitchen and a white porch any day!

  2. Vicki says:

    Today I ordered a white kitchen, cabinets, corian countertop, integrated sink…..with stainless appliances. I plan to accessorize with color for each season or holiday. The floors are black walnut. Maybe not for everyone but I will love it!!

    • Anna@HGTV says:

      That's going to be gorgeous with the black walnut floors!

    • Katherine says:

      That's the perfect thing about white! If you are like me, you get bored of one look, one color. White as a background — white paint, white tiles, white cupboards — and you can change with the seasons, with the trends, with your mood.

  3. CMedina says:

    Love it!! My style is old world but, this piece is exquisite.

  4. Pege says:

    I really like to look at others white on white. But don't use it for myself. Have always loved white jeans or tops!

  5. Martha Human says:

    I'm loving me the chabby chic style. Bought a small secretary at a garage sale and painted it an avocado green and using it in bedroom. Also bought 2 1920's laddar back chairs and using them for living area. These are green also .Didn't have to do anything to them. Get this!! they were only a dollar each.

  6. Judi H. says:

    We have white on beige, with sunshine yellow walls. The white upholstery on the sofa and some of the chairs is so versatile (just change the accent pillows, or turn the cushions over from time to time if they are beginning to look a bit dirty) and you have a whole new palate possibility! Now, white kitchen cabinets, which we also have, are another world of constant upkeep!

    • Anna@HGTV says:

      Aren't those white kitchen cabinets the darndest things to keep sparkling white?

    • Katherine says:

      Yes, I have white kitchen cabinets, and I just repainted the fronts yesterday! A little too shabby chic after six years! Now glossy and white and sparkly, shining in the sun!

  7. CplusE says:

    Our house had all-white bathrooms when we first moved in. We lived with them for several years, but white tiles are so hard to keep sparkling clean as well, so we went with tiles in shades of tan and beige instead (my husband loves beige, so beige in the bathrooms was my compromise with him!). And being the owner of dogs that have both dark and white hair, neither black nor white work in our house. I can only wear those colors if I am leaving the house immediately, and my decorating options with these colors are limited. I am another who loves the look of an all-white room or outfit, but can never actually have one!

  8. Amy PureHome says:

    I love the idea of a white on white color scheme. The crispness and cleanliness is amazing!

  9. clea says:

    Just down sized and living in 650 sq. feet………..My problem is the living room, 4 doors and a window…..For now the colors are sage and gold and I am sick of these, the room appears dark and heavy. Going into winter I am already depressed thinking of being inside for months. I cannot purchase new furniture so the love seat and large ottom in sage green must stay. What colors would blend with this choice besides yellow or gold?

    • Mary Kay lady says:

      My bedroom linens are sage and I painted the walls in kind of a khaki beige/tan. Can't think of exact shade, but get so many compliments and color is soothing

    • Just saying says:

      What color are your walls? With out knowing that – go to the discount fabric store girl! If you sew great, if not you can still cover up that grandma sage and gold furniture with fabric – Once again a white cotton duct fabric that you could toss in the wash – that would be my choice with some fun multi colored floral reto throw pillows – embroidered pillows to add some texture.

    • Goforit! says:

      Ivory would brighten your room up. Either on the walls, or pillows and a center of the floor rug. Striped fabric could be stapled in place on the ottoman (muted light colors with ivory or white included.) If you have dark wood furniture, could you paint it? Lots and lots of options here in your replies. Good luck!

  10. Jenny Romney says:

    I love a white room! My bedroom is white on white with a touch of color. It is a most relaxing place. I feel like a Queen in my bedroom!

Kayla KittsKayla is a special projects editor at HGTV.com and a co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. Kayla is an overbearing cat mom with a love for vintage-modern furniture, artisan cocktails, organizing all...


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