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Showhouse Rooms Bathed in White

White rooms: a little bit minimalist, a little bit magical

Written by Krissa Rossbund
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  • White . . . minimalist, magical, or a little of both? The question remains if white qualifies as a real color or not. Some designers wouldn't think of creating a room sans pigment-laden appointments. Others use it as a foolproof mechanism for sophistication. In bedrooms, white and variations of it lead the way to a restful snooze. Dining rooms with white as their palettes sing in refinement and class. Teamed with black, and high-glass elements, the color reads glamorous and seductive. Warm white offers comfort. Feast your eyes on these colorless treats from showhouses across the country.

  • Boston Junior League Showhouse

    The room's focal point is the bed, imposing in its mass yet inviting because of the delicacy and warmth of the paint and intricate carving. The charm that the designer creates for this space lies in the finer points. For instance, a striking swath of ivory-and black grosgrain ribbon found in a posh London shop is used on the bed coverings and draperies.

  • In soft impressionistic strokes, the painting above a settee and two chairs in the room's gathering area introduce the only note of color--a delicate lilac--in an otherwise tightly composed symphony of ivory and gray.

  • Cape Cod Showhouse

    Against the room's crisp white background, furnishings in rich, dark woods--including a custom turned-post bed, the room's centerpiece, and a woven sea-grass chaise lounge--make a graphic statement.

  • Six antique charcoal drawings of shells set into sand-colored frames make reference to the nearby ocean.

  • A contemporary Parsons table at bedside not only doubles as a useful desk but also manages to fit right in with a traditional bed, a rustic stool, and an antique ladder-back chair in this restful retreat designed by Susan Stacy and Jim Gauthier.

  • San Francisco Showcase House

    The palette of soft creams and whites highlights the room's breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Albeit neutral, the palette doesn't sacrifice style. Each individual furnishing is a piece of sculpture.

  • Female fantasy describes this connoisseur's collection of alluring shoes straight out of Sex and the City.

  • National Symphony Orchestra Showhouse

    The modern walnut Parsons table, a trio of sleek steel pendant lights, and a pared-down tablescape are blended with grand wing chairs. "Balancing old things with new things gives a room great energy," says designer Michael Roberson.

  • Classic moldings set a traditional architectural tone, but the artwork has contemporary flair.

  • Boston Junior League Showhouse

    Designer Dennis Duffy blanketed this dining room in a warmed-up oyster white with layers of varying tones and textures that produce contemporary elegance and a respectful update to centuries-old architecture.

  • Polished clamshells randomly scattered across the runner echo the luster of the walls.

  • Mansions and Millionaires

    The large sunroom, with its dark wood trim, begged for clean lines and crisp, light elements to keep it from being stodgy and seriously gloomy.

  • A shapely "Zeus" chair adds a touch of whimsy in this sunroom. Designer Beverly Balk contrasted the ornate details of the architectural gem with a fresh, stylish approach unaffected by period constraints.

  • Lake Forest Showcase House

    This gentleman's room commands attention with its two-tone palette and tailored canopy that envelops the beds.

  • No-fuss bolster pillows in a mod fabric and Greek key borders on bedspread and hangings keep the bed linens simple.

  • A total of 50 black-and-white photographs of early-Hollywood stars hang around the room in tight grids. On fine oils and charcoals, the artists' signatures may be recognizable only to art connoisseurs, but the names signed on the original photos in this room in the Lake Forest Showcase House are well-known--Bogart, Bergman, Gable, and Garbo.

  • San Francisco Showcase House

    The deep color of the walls is in dramatic contrast to furnishings that take their delicate palette from washed-on-the-beach coral and seashell.

  • Little Rock Showhouse

    To create interest in a white scheme, Trading Spaces alum and Little Rock native Laura Day introduced a variety of contrasting textures into this striking black-and-white living room beauty.

  • This room was grand, with a heavy fireplace and travertine marble floors," says Day. "My goal was to tone it down, keeping the grand qualities but making them fresher." A billowy, ivory-colored sheepskin rug grounds the furniture arrangements. Its softness is contrasted against the sharp angles of a high gloss Lucite cocktail table.

  • Inspired by vintage designs, designer Laura Day finished sleek custom consoles and mirrors in glossy white to flank each side of the fireplace.

  • Atlanta Symphony Showhouse

    Making linen drapery panels the same color as the walls avoids detracting from the architecture of this living room.

  • "Placement of art is important," says designer Bob Brown. "Art can't be enjoyed if it's not seen clearly."

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