Shopping for “White” Furniture

Choosing white furniture can be a great option for any room in your home. Available in a variety of styles ranging from antique traditional to transitional or contemporary and everything in between, the use of white furniture can be used to brighten up any space. White furniture is great for blending and layering varying neutral colors to lighten up a space or to provide a stark contrast to darker colors used for walls and/or flooring. When shopping for white furniture, there are a few factors which should be considered. This article highlights some of these factors to help with selecting the furniture that is right for your home decor.

White is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light that stimulates all three types of color sensitive cone cells in the human eye in equal amounts and with high brightness compared to the surroundings. A white visual stimulation will be void of hue and grayness. White is the lightest possible color.

Shades of white are colors that differ slightly from pure white. Variations of white include what are commonly termed off-white colors, which may be considered part of a neutral color scheme.

In color theory, a shade is a pure color mixed with black (or having a lower lightness). Strictly speaking, a “shade of white” would be a neutral gray. This article is also about off-white colors that vary from pure white in hue, and in chroma (also called saturation, or intensity).

Colors often considered “shades of white” may include, among others, cream, eggshell, ivory, Navajo white, and vanilla. Even the lighting of a room, however, can cause a pure white to be perceived as off-white.[1]

There are also many other different names used to describe the variations or shades of white. Terms like pure white or snow white may be used to describe a brighter shade of white while terms such as off white, antique white, ivory, natural, bone and linen may be used to describe darker shades more closely resembling a tan or beige color.

Keep in mind that digital images may vary in color depending on a number of factors including but not limited to individual computer monitor color settings, lighting and photography. The color of the actual items may vary slightly due to variations in the application technique or the color of the finish on wood products, dye lots on fabrics and leather as well as natural variations in wood grain, leather and stone. Therefore the item you receive may not be an exact match to what you see on your computer screen.

Please refer to the images below:

Examples of different shades of white

Below is a digital image of a dining room set. Although it is the same image, some computer monitors may display the image on the left while others may show the image on the right.

The image below shows the same dining set photographed with a camera phone. The image on the left and the image on the right are photos of the same dining set, in the same room, taken with the same camera phone. The variation in the color is due to a change in the lighting.

Here is a stock photo of a leather sofa. The image on the right was taken with a camera phone with poor lighting. Some may perceive this as cream or beige, while others will call it “white” or “off-white.”

Below is a great example of how photography and monitor settings can have a drastic affect on the look of a furniture collection. The image on the left is the same photograph as the one on the right. The image in the center was taken with a camera phone with different lighting.

Lighting in a room plays a significant role in the perception of colors. Color is nothing more than a reflection of light, so the type and amount of light in a room can have an enormous impact on the color scheme of your room. For example, natural light will greatly differ from artificial light from lamps or recessed fixtures. The color of fabric, leather or furniture, walls and other surfaces can look very different by simply changing the light bulbs in lighting fixtures.

Due to its uniform intensity over the visible spectrum of colors, daylight is considered to be the best source of light. Even the natural light of the sun changes from sunrise to sunset as it penetrates through varying amounts of atmosphere. This variation can also have an affect on the perception of different shades of white furniture.

Incandescent lamps have a tendency to emit a warm, reddish or amber hue. This warmer light will make certain shades of white appear more cream or off white. In contrast, fluorescent lamps generally create a bluer, cooler light which will make the same piece of furniture appear brighter. Keep in mind that any shade of white furniture will reflect the colors that surround it. For example, the color of the walls, flooring and any other accessories will be reflected by the white surface of furnishings.

Varying shades of white wood tones, fabrics and leather are perfectly acceptable in interior design as it creates a layered look. There is absolutely no reason that pieces of furniture need to be the exact same shade of white. In fact, exactly matching shades of white can create a more contrived look in a room while layering the room with varying shades of neutral colors will provide a more put together feel.

How to Measure for New Furniture

It is very important to measure your home before ordering new furniture. The last thing you want is for your furniture to arrive and be too big to fit through the front door, or look tiny in your large living room. When shopping for furniture, it is always a good idea to use the measurements provided for each item and measure your space. Here are a few tips to help you measure your home for new furniture.

Using the Tape Method

One method to help you imagine the way a new piece of furniture will look in your home is to use masking tape and a measuring tape to measure out the exact footprint of the piece of furniture. Stick a piece of the blue painters tape as an outline where the furniture will sit on the floor or against a wall. This will help you visualize the piece of furniture in your room so you can see if it will properly fit and work with your existing decor. Make sure to plan enough space for walkways between furniture so your room is not cramped and awkward to move through.

Doors and Stairs

Doors, stairways, tricky corners and hallways are often overlooked when measuring your home for new furniture. It is important to measure any area that the furniture will travel through before it reaches its designated area. Keep in mind that some oversized furniture may not fit through a standard 36″ doorway and may need an alternate route into your home.

Things to Consider When Shopping Online for Furniture

So, you’ve decided to shop online to purchase some new furniture for your home. What’s the next step? Here are a few things to consider when shopping for furniture online.

Style

Begin by thinking about the style of furniture you are looking for. Is your style traditional, ultra-modern, or somewhere in between? It is important to choose new items that will complement your existing décor and fit into your current lifestyle. With a little thought and some product investigation online you should have no trouble finding several different versions of your dream furniture set.

Functionality

Another point to consider is how the furniture will be used. Will it be in your formal living room mostly for aesthetics and barely get any use, or will it be in front of the television and used every day? These are factors to consider with regards to the comfort and durability of a piece of furniture.

The people and pets in your life will also impact the wear of your new furniture and is another important factor to take into consideration while you are in this exploratory phase. A white sofa set might not be the best choice for a household with small children or pets that regularly get into the furniture. If you regularly host guests, you might want to consider the number of seats available in each room where you will be entertaining.

Measurements

Another great place to start is by measuring your room and taking note of how much room you have available for new furniture. You will want to make sure that the furniture will fit into your room and not fill the entire space to the point that you are not able to walk comfortably through the room. It is also important to measure your doorways, hallways and narrow corners to make sure that the furniture will be able to get to your room of choice.

Experience & Reliability 

One of the most important things to consider is the online retailer you are doing business with. You want to make sure that the company you choose has a lot of experience with shipping furniture and dealing with any issues that could arise with your furniture delivery. It is a good idea to call online retailers with any of your questions or concerns. Remember that professional retailers will have a trained staff to answer any questions you might have as well as take care of any issues that you may experience after you new furniture arrives.