White-on-White Guest Bedroom Makeover

Designer Brian Patrick Flynn created a livable all-white guest bedroom retreat in West Hollywood, Calif. Geared toward mostly female guests, the room is layered with more than 20 different shades of white. See how he made it work.
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November 25, 2014

Whimsical Guest Bedroom Retreat

The guest bedroom of a West Hollywood, Calif., home is designed using various shades of white. By painting the walls a shade of white known as blue-white, then introducing small touches of blue on the baseboards, window casing and doors, the room instantly takes on a faint blue appearance.

Reading Nook

Varying textures and shapes is an important part of keeping a white-on-white room from coming across flat or one-dimensional. Since the reading corner is made up of two pieces that each have similar smooth finishes (the end table and the lounge chair), it is important to ensure they have different shapes. The straight lines of the lounge chair paired with the organic, biomorphic, round shape of the tulip-style table complement one another, achieving proper visual balance.

Carrara Marble Table

The key to using white successfully, and in a sophisticated way, is to pack a space with interesting materials and textures featuring different shades of white. In the reading corner of this guest bedroom, a white Arabescato marble side table not only keeps books, reading glasses and coffee nearby, but it also adds a layer of organic pattern and texture to the room.

Textured Pillow

Since the streamlined stitched-leather club chair is sleek and smooth, a nubby throw pillow is introduced to add visual tension.

Layered Window Treatments

When it comes to lighting, white is used to add diffusion, resulting in a soft glow which is flattering not only to skin tones, but also color values in rooms. To help diffuse the strong UV rays from the California sun, the windows are layered with lined white dupioni silk draperies as well as lined white wood blackout blinds.

Inverted Box Pleat

Whites, mostly gender-neutral, can become gender-specific depending on tailored details. Although the draperies of the guest bedroom are sewn from dupioni silk, which tends to be a more feminine choice of textiles, a more masculine, menswear-inspired pleat, known as an inverted box pleat, is used.

Simple Ceiling Pendant

Similar to the diffusion used on the window coverings, soft, flattering light is also incorporated with a fabric-covered drum pendant. Once illuminated, the white fabric diffuses the yellow light of the 75-watt bulb, resulting in a more pure-white effect, which casts down into the center of the room.

Decorative Accents

Using decorative, sculptural white elements can help take the focus off of pieces not meant to stand out. In this case, an assortment of handmade ceramic sculptures is placed in front of a flat-panel TV.

Updated Dresser

Designers often turn to white to modernize traditional furniture and/or take a heavy piece and make it appear lighter. In its original state, this midcentury-modern dresser featured a dark wood finish. Thanks to two coats of white lacquer, the piece appears much lighter and fits perfectly with the room's white-on-white tone.

Flooded With Light

Spaces packed with an abundance of natural light are the best choices for using white effectively. Once the light hits the windows and is then diffused by lined window coverings, it floods the room with a visual softness that immediately creates a cozy atmosphere.

Ready for Guests

A four-poster canopy bed that appears pure white on its own, takes on a yellow-white appearance once introduced into the room and surrounded by blue-white walls, as well as ultra-white elements including lampshades, bedding and nightstands with glossy drawer fronts.

Various Shades of White

The bed-scape of this guest bedroom combines whites in many different ways; the bed pillows are ultra-white cotton, the Euro shams are made of a casual, washed beige-white linen, the accent pillow features rouged silk, the ultra-white duvet has a faint waffle pattern, and the woven throw blanket is made from yellow-white cotton.

Hints of Gray

Two of the standout design elements of the guest bedroom are the layered, multifaceted mirror and the contemporary gray/white nightstand. Since both of these pieces are completely surrounded by whites, they immediately take center stage when looking into the room from the bedroom door.

Dramatic Mirror

Using mirrors in white-on-white spaces helps reflect light throughout the space, creating the illusion that the space is even larger. Although this 10-by-12-foot guest bedroom is short on space, the mirror placed directly above the bed almost acts as a second window, creating the illusion of having slightly more square footage.

Whitewashed Flooring

White flooring is intimidating to many homeowners due to durability and white's tendency to show every flaw. An excellent alternative to white carpet, white wood or concrete floors is to choose whitewashed vinyl plank flooring. This material has the look and feel of hardwoods, yet is much easier to care for.

Pops of Icy Blue

The guest bedroom is north-facing which means it receives cool light all day long. Because of this positioning, blue-white is the shade of choice. To highlight this, the doors, casings and baseboards are painted a shade of icy blue. Once the cool light hits the trim, the blue-white walls take on a faint blue appearance.

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