Some days I read through snarky comments on beautiful inspiration shared on Hello Lovely’s FB page and think: why? Why are we seeing the same design so differently? Safe, soul-less, bland, and forgettable are recurrent feedback themes. Certain folks have a knee jerk negative reaction to neutral, white, and pale interiors so it’s curious. Is white truly a turnoff and a sign of pretense or is there a pervasive lack of experience working with calm neutrals? Because there are a myriad of ways to live with white soulfully! When we considered dozens of white sofas HERE, I was reminded of the range of design elements. Arms, skirting, bases, scale, number of cushions, and cushion fill can vary even before you consider texture and upholstery. With a white sofa perfect for you, how do you make it ALL yours? We’ll peek at an eclectic collection of white sofa styling for ideas.
White Sofa Styling 7 Eclectic Ways (Paint Colors Too!)
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1. My Sofa (Above): Greige & Lazy
I object to the “soul-less” comments about how I live with white, but not with the judgment that I am lazy, which is close to accurate. In almost every other area of my life I am driven and over-achieving, but with art and creative pursuits, I take things easy. And I like that about me.
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The walls in my living room (it’s actually more of a small reading room) are Sherwin-Williams Repose Gray. It’s a super easy to live with greige that feels elegant with bright white trim. The large painting above the RH sofa is by me (Titled “5 Figures”) and very special in a personal way. The painted wood bench is one I commissioned in the 90s and was built with antique wood from a 19th century born torn down in the Midwest. Family and friends sat on it in our kitchen for decades.
2. White Sofa Styling; Skip the Side Tables
Most of us forget there are no design rules so we forget floor lamps are just fine next to a sofa for lighting. Sometimes space constraints make things tight for side tables, and sometimes, it’s just the look we’re after as designer Eleanor Cummings proves:
Would you ever expect to see such a modern task lamp paired with a traditional setting a la Pamela Pierce?
White is not dull when you open the eyes of your soul! Here’s another space with a white sofa and an absence of table lamps. The modern sconces on the wall are even gorgeous during the day…just imagine the glow at night. Color of the walls in this atmospheric gorgeous space?
I have had great experience with this amazing white paint color too:
For this simple modern farmhouse moment, we see a floor lamp and a simple branch on a small side table for an airy effect. No need to limit yourself to matching side tables and matching table lamps.
The best part of the styling inspiration above may be that you can snag that exact sofa for a friendly price!
3. Create a Modern Sanctuary
There’s something delicious about combining Old World elements with modern lines, and the white slipcovered seating in this fantasy oceanfront home look timeless yet contemporary.
Another styling takeaway from Richard Shapiro’s space is how mixing whites, emphasizing texture, and keeping contrast low exudes warmth and interest. An entirely different style living space is this sanctuary of a space in a modern California farmhouse by Erin Fetherston:
What a gorgeous white linen sofa on that solidly beautiful wood base! The oversized blue ottoman seems so practical with young children children too. While I may not be able to add that sofa to my room, I can collect ideas such as the exact white color of the walls…
Here’s another serene space with white slipcovered sofas, cool white walls and a slipcovered ottoman in lieu of a wood coffee table:
In Jill Egan’s own home, the construction materials, collected antiques, finishes and reclaimed elements balance Old World with an airy modern Belgian chic.
Athena Calderone also knows her way around an earthy modern sanctuary look:
4. Turn Up the European Farmhouse Intimacy
White, pale, and neutral sofas can be such an integral part of an informal living room, den, family room, or media area. When the furniture is arranged conversationally and pulled toward the center of the room, it can encourage greater intimacy.
While the walls above have a plaster-like finish and are unpainted, I do have a source for the color below in a French country family room:
It’s easy to imagine the intimacy such a grouping fosters for watching TV or playing games.
White upholstery and quiet colors combine for an effect that is anything but cold and sterile in this beautifully intimate English country style interior.
Layering with throws, pillows, books, art, and small tables for placing drinks adds up to a ton of charm.
Intimacy can also flow from a rustically elegant space that refuses to take itself too seriously. Collections, the stuff of life, and a carefree approach to decor make this white living room anything but standoffish.
5. Be Free, Whimsical & Laid Back
Sometimes a designer strikes just the right balance between informal, whimsical, and impossibly chic. Exhibit A:
So many styling ideas in a single image! Layered rugs, a mix of texture, playful scale, geometric joy…it’s just very easy to imagine loving the vibe in this room and not wanting to leave it. Is French farmhouse your fav?
Oh the texture of this white boucle sofa above and the rest of the natural materials in this bohemian interior in Charleston!
A casual approach to the placement of art and even a light string create a whimsy that feels playful yet not childish.
Even the whimsy of great big yellow checks painted on a white wood floor can be what elevates your simple white sofa.
6. Elevate With Easy Elegance & Restraint
When your taste leans toward the minimal, it becomes a curation challenge. What stays and makes the cut?
But the result of doing the work of trial and error to arrive at a balance that feels elegant yet inviting to your own sensibilities is well worth it.
Elegance need not feel stuffy and sometimes can be achieved by simply removing all that is unneccessary! The thing is, we’re all such different creatures. This space below might feel too fancy for me (I’m not going to make a quick judgment because an image is one thing, in person is another.)
Yet it may suit you perfectly: I would feel more at home in this lofty, slightly moody, relaxing space with its built-ins and comfy furnishings:
In this English countryside cottage with liberal use of white, there’s a laid back luxe elegance and an undecorated mood that feels easy and minimal:
7. Turn Up the Tone on Tone Bliss
Some rooms become these tender cocoon spaces that soothe us in mysterious ways we long to be soothed.
Layering neutrals and playing with “texture as a color” can yield tranquil spaces that whisper. Whether in a modern apartment or a house with historical significance, the volume is turned down:
When the texture is already there in the bones of the space? Bonus!
Is French Nordic your jam?
Sometimes you go to great lengths to build good bones into a place, as Desiree Ashworth and her visionary team demonstrate:
I hope these inspiring glimpses have filled your head with ideas and your heart with calm.
The Amber Lewis designed throw is out of stock right now, but talk about a white sofa tonal styling in one stroke!
And here’s your summery blissful bonus styling idea: paint the upper walls a peachy pink that you will look gorgeous in! Make sure there is at least one wall mirror for you to twirl and affirm that it was the right decision! Also make sure to check out this story with white sofas.
If you have another minute to watch this video where the designer/homeowner shares her objects of affection, you won’t spy a white sofa, but you may steal an interior design idea or five:
Peace to you right where you are.
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