Living with Winter White

Designed by James Radin. (Photo: Cote de Texas)

Designed by James Radin. (Photo: Cote de Texas)

Once upon a time, when I was seriously considering buying a white couch, my mother dismissed the idea with a wave of her hand. That, she said, is simply not practical.

She was right. I had two children, a dog, and a cat ... not to mention, a husband who worked with horses. We were a clean bunch, and our house was always neat as a pin, but white in our family room would be hard to keep clean. Something darker and patterned would be better, she said. It wont show the dirt.

I bristle whenever I hear people say at least it wont show the dirt. What does that mean? Is not showing the dirt a good thing? And if it is, why would it be? Who wants to live with dirt that doesnt show? I have trouble wrapping my head around the if-you-cant-see-it, its OK concept. The dirt is still there whether you see it or not. Wouldnt it be better to see the dirt on a couch so you know exactly when and where it needs cleaning?

I never did get the white couch. It wasnt a matter of being practical. I simply did not find a couch in white that called out and begged me to take it home. Instead I bought a white area rug that looked fabulous with the navy patterned sofa I did buy. My bath was a crisp white, and I had white kitchen cabinets, too. They easily showed dirt and fingerprints, but I cleaned on a regular basis. I didnt mind. I like a clean house.

Decorating with white

Pure as the driven snow, white is pristine, peaceful, crisp, and clean. Not really a color, its a manifestation of the presence of all colors. Like a diamond, it reflects light ... and rooms in white are generally bright and airy.

(Photo: Hypevilla)

White walls, furniture, and flooring are offset by dark wood and distressed frames. (Photo: Hypevilla)

(Photo: Country Living)

[above] This formal white living room looks good with dark flooring, a striped area rug, federal blue accents, and other vintage pieces. (Photo: Country Living)

[right] Elegant dining on a winter day can be changed easily for any season by using fresh flowers instead of the white-washed twigs. (Photo: Williams-Sonoma).

(Photo: Williams-Sonoma)
(Photo: Ikea)

Layers of white ... and neat, organized shelving create an inviting desk area
in the corner of this living room. (Photo: Ikea)

Same room, two different looks

(Photo: Country Living)
(Photo: Country Living)
[above left] A simple white pedestal table, slipper chairs, and framed art on each side of the china cabinet create a smart, sophisticated dining area. [above right] Add slipcovers and a tablecloth, an area rug, chandelier shades, sconces on the wall, and hang a couple of plates for a whole other, more-casual and romantic look. (Photos: Country Living)
(Photo: Amazing Decoration)

White, painted brick and a beamed, vaulted ceiling add drama. The nice mix of modern furniture with an antique mirror give the room an eclectic feel. (Photo: Amazing Decoration)

(Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)
(Photo: Traditional Home)
[above left] Open shelving with white dinnerware, baskets, and cookbooks offer handy storage. (Photo: Better Homes and Gardens); [above right] Designer Christopher Peacocks white kitchen, with polished cherry flooring, gets a splash of bright color from an orange window shade. The walls are painted a silver-grey, like the range. (Photo: Traditional Home)
(Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)

Floor-to-ceiling soft white cabinets with dark Carrara marble and a handmade ceramic tile backsplash. (Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)

(Photo: Jennyshus)

[above] An awesome vintage piece, used for the headboard, makes a bold statement and mimics the pattern in the bed cover. (Photo: Jennyshus)

[left] A romantic corona sends a cascade of sheer fabric tumbling over an intricately carved headboard in this dreamy bedroom. (Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)

(Photo: Better Homes and Gardens)
(Photo: Bright Bold and Beautiful)

Pine beams on the ceiling, hardwood floor, and toss pillows in watercolor hues on a cozy window seat with an ocean view ... sigh. (Photo: Bright Bold and Beautiful)

(Photo: Traditional Home)
(Photo: HGTV)
[above left] Vintage flooring, a soaking tub, and a floor-mounted faucet give this bathroom period style. (Photo: Traditional Home); [above right] White and polished chrome make for a totally contemporary, minimalist bathroom. (Photo: HGTV)
(Photo: House Beautiful)

A deep soaking, freestanding tub by Waterworks with clean, sculptural lines. Pure heaven! (Photo: House Beautiful)