White Color – Meaning, Effects and Uses

White is a true neutral color since it lacks any other hues. It is broadly considered to be the color of purity and innocence, and it can help to brighten up any color scheme. Here, we explore the meaning of white and explain the best way to use white shades in interior design.

What is the Meaning of White?

What is the Meaning of White

White is linked to a variety of meanings, depending on the context it is used in. White can also be perceived to have different meanings in different cultures, so you should never forget that color meanings are not necessarily universally understood.

Simplicity and minimalism

In Western cultures, white is commonly associated with simplicity and minimalism. This is the color used on walls of modern art galleries, and it is often the first color you will think of when discussing minimalist interior design. White presents itself as an uncomplicated color, which makes it perfect for minimalist decor and simple styles.


White is commonly used to depict cleanliness, which is one reason you will find many white objects in hospitals, dental surgeries, and medical clinics. In marketing, white has a strong link to cleanliness.

Suppose you watch any commercial trying to sell you a kitchen cleaning product. In that case, the countertops will be white and shiny, and similarly, commercials selling bathroom cleaners will depict their products used on sparkling white bathroom tiles. If you want to present a sense of cleanliness, white is one of the best colors to use.

Purity and innocence

White is linked to purity and innocence in  Western culture, as we can see from brides who traditionally wear white, to babies bundled in white muslins and blankets.

Bland and boring

Since white lacks any color, it can be perceived as dull or boring. If you paint a room in white, then you might find it lacks personality, and this is one of the reasons why white sometimes has a reputation for being bland.

Sterile and stark

White can appear bright and appealing in warm, natural light, but it can look stark and dinghy in low light. Some people may associate white with the sterility of hospitals, which creates a negative association.

You can change the perception of white by using different accent colors with it. For example, a white room might feel sterile with gray furniture, but add in some bright lemon-yellow cushions and it will suddenly feel like a breath of fresh spring air.

Bright and light

White reflects light, which can make it appear brighter. For this reason, white is a good color choice to use in small rooms because it can make them feel more expansive and uplifting.

Sadness and death

In some Eastern cultures, white is associated with sadness and death. It is the color frequently used at funerals and in the rituals surrounding mourning.

What Effect Does White Have on Home Decor?

What Effect Does White Have on Home Decor

Create the illusion of space

White reflects light, which in turn creates the illusion of more space. White is a good wall paint color in small rooms if you want to make them feel bigger because it can create a sense of increased space. However, white can only reflect light where light already exists; it cannot create light.

This is worth remembering in rooms that have low levels of natural light because painting a poorly lit room in white can actually achieve the opposite effect you were hoping for. In a white room with a large window that gets plenty of light throughout the day, the white walls will create the illusion of a larger space.

However, if the room is north-facing and only has small windows (or no windows), then it is going to look drab and dull when painted in white because there is little light for it to reflect.

Make for a bright and airy feel

A white-painted room that gets good natural light will feel fresh and airy. It can create the sense that you’re sitting amongst a warm summer breeze, even when you’re windows are closed. This makes white a perfect color choice for coastal or beach-themed rooms, as well as pool houses and summer houses.

Simplify decor

One effect of white on home decor is that it creates a simple, uncomplicated look. If you enjoy minimalism and feel more at ease when your surroundings are plain, then white is an ideal choice for your home.

Create calm

White is a peaceful color that helps to create a calm and light-hearted atmosphere. White is not harsh on the eyes, making it an easy color to spend time around. Pair it with accents of blue to feel an even deeper soothing effect.

Break up a color palette

If you have several bold or vibrant colors in your color scheme, add white hits to help break it up. Contrasting colors in particular can feel overwhelming if a neutral shade doesn’t separate them. You can use white to help break up strong colors in a color palette to tone down the room and make it more comfortable to spend time in.

How to Use White in Home Decor

Soft furnishings

If you want to add a peaceful luxury to your home decor then add white accessories in the form of soft furnishings. A white chunky knitted throw draped over the arm of a dark sofa will create a shade contrast and also help to tone down the overall intensity of the space.

White sheer drapes at windows and doors will create a casual, breezy, care-free vibe, or consider a faux sheepskin white rug on a hardwood floor to create a soft look.

Wall paint

Wall paint

White wall paint is enormously popular, and there are so many variations of white to choose from, including cool whites to warm whites. If you want to make your room feel like it’s getting a fresh start, opt for white walls and choose a complimentary neutral color for the trim.


Most furniture you can think of is available in white, including whitewashed wooden bed frames, white upholstered sofas, white painted bookshelves, and white metal chairs. If you want your furniture to blend seamlessly into a pale or light-colored room, then opt for white furniture. This creates a classy and subtle look.

Alternatively, choose white-colored furniture in a dark room to make the furniture stand out with a shade contrast. You could also update old furniture by using white furniture paint, giving it a new lease of life.

White furniture will always be popular because it will go with anything, making it future-proof. This means that even if you change your color scheme in the future, you won’t need to buy new furniture because your white furniture will still look great.



White as a flooring color can work really well if you want a clean and fresh look. White tiles in the kitchen or bathroom will be clean and neutral, so you won’t have to change your tiles if you update your kitchen or want to try a new color scheme.

White carpets are nice in a bedroom for a sumptuous, luxurious feel, but these should be avoided in high-traffic areas.