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What are the Pros and Cons of a White Living Room?

By T. Briseno
Updated May 16, 2024
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While the color white may be a cool, clean, and neutral element in decorating, it can be a challenge when using the pieces in a white living room in day-to-day life. White furniture generally is well-suited to adding décor of any color without clashing, and it is usually timeless rather than trendy in design. As a blank canvas for other elements, however, it also is generally more likely to show stains, spills, and signs of wear through use. A white living room can have an inviting minimal and classy aesthetic, but to some it may appear sterile or too pristine and can bring trepidation to visitors and even residents of the home about spilling or sullying the furnishings.

Some living rooms are central areas for living in a home, while others may be formal areas for receiving guests and entertaining on a limited basis. Considering a white living room may begin with assessing how a room will be used and who will be using it. If a room is going to be the main play and arts and crafts area for toddlers or a frequent gathering place for eating pizza and watching sporting events, for example, then a white couch and chairs may not be the most practical additions. A washable white tile floor, however, could work well.

In homes where natural light is lacking or dark walls and flooring features cannot be updated, a white living room may provide the needed brightness preferred by the residents. Adding white furniture, rugs, or window coverings can provide the illusion of light. Conversely, in spaces with an abundance of natural light and white walls or flooring, white living room décor may create a washed out or too bright look.

Personal taste and design preference may be important considerations in furnishing rooms. With improvements in the washability of upholstery and carpet fibers, having a white living room that is used daily by kids, pets, and friends is less of a concern. Removable white slipcovers often can be washed or dry cleaned, and many rugs can be spot scrubbed to help retain their wearability. Those pieces that are made of delicate white fabric or that may easily hold a stain, however, may become high maintenance and lose the desired eye appeal as time passes.

Many individuals may have memories of visiting friends or relatives and “being afraid to sit down” or feeling as if they are “in a museum” rather than a living space. Remembering the comfort of those who will be living in and visiting in a white living room can be an important factor. Plunking down on the coach at the end of a work or school day or stretching out on the floor after a run or soccer game may not factor into the imagined and sustainable look of a white living room unless elements and materials are well-chosen, though entering a room and experiencing and appreciating the calm, light, and color-accented décor may outweigh any other factors for some.

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Discussion Comments
By Buster29 — On Mar 17, 2014

@mrwormy, I rented an apartment with a white living room and I thought it was a little bland. If the landlady would have let me do some painting, I would have created an accent wall with a bold color like red. I think having walls painted in a neutral color like off-white is a pro for landlords, but a con for renters who like a bit of color in their living space.

By mrwormy — On Mar 17, 2014

I think it's important to remember there are lots of different shades of "white". Few people would want to paint their living rooms in a blinding white shade. Most of the time, decorators will go for softer off-white shades like eggshell or antique white. Those are good neutral colors that won't clash with most furniture, carpeting or window treatments.

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