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There is a multitude of design elements to consider when you're decorating your home, but few are as important as color. The right shade doesn't just have the power to imbue a space with personality and create a long-lasting impression—it can also make a room look more luxurious and refined, which is a big win when you're decorating on a budget.
"I think the one color that makes a room look more expensive is ivory. It's a 'forever color' that has been featured throughout every era," says New York-based interior designer Tali Roth (the creative force behind one of our favorite home tours to date). "It's luxurious in the sense that it is delicate by definition and must be handled with care. Plus, all ivory spaces appear to be larger, loftier, and airier." Unlike saturated colors, she points out that shades of white will never go out of style and are a foolproof decorating shade. "It is much easier to do well than other colors."
Yes, it's possible to style a luxe home without spending big—here's how to give your home a five-star facelift with Roth's favorite shade.
Rethink the Base
Before you start decorating, rethink the base. "Many of the spaces I walk into (especially in New York City) already have white or cream painted walls, but it doesn't feel crisp and vibrant," she says. "Clients often resist painting, but when we do, the results are awesome!"
So how do you know which shade to use? "Whites are super complex, and making the right call is based on personal preference, [though] It really helps to work with a designer," says Roth. "I love bright white for a gallery finish, as it lets you layer many colors and textures over the top and makes a space feel way less dingy. [If your room has a] more traditional feel, it's appropriate to go for a warmer shade like 'decorator's white' or 'simply white,'" she recommends.
Layer Accents in Different Shades
Decorating a room from scratch can be intimidating, but Roth says it's nearly impossible to go wrong if you layer furniture and accessories in different shades of ivory. "I can honestly say it works in every room. An all-ivory bedroom is so sleek, stunning, and dreamy, a white marble dining table with ivory upholstered chairs is classic and delightful, and an all-ivory living room is swoon-worthy!" she says.
Inspired to try it at home? Roth says there's no need to try and match furniture. "Make sure you mix textures and materials. You don't want your space to feel like a car sales showroom with white leather Barcelona chairs and a shag rug!"
Add a Cream Rug
If you're decorating a rental, chances are that there's at least one aspect you wish you could renovate. There's a quick solution for old, unsightly flooring, though: Add a plush ivory rug. According to Roth, pale-colored rugs can help reflect light, thus making the room look more luxurious and new. "Covering the floor or a large surface area in something ivory is a great way to lighten your space. I would, however, ensure that not everything in your space is black—If your home has lots of heavy, dark furniture, maybe stick with a lighter grey so the contrast isn't too severe," she recommends.
Opt for Furniture With Slip Covers
Ivory sofas: Stylish or destined to get dirty? "I happen to have had an ivory linen sofa for three years, and it has been brilliant!" says Roth. "The main cushion covers zip off, and when dry cleaned, it comes up looking brand-new."
If you have pets or children and are sure your ivory sofa will get stained with time, she recommends a durable fabric cover. "Go with a Perennials fabric that is completely stain proof so you don't need to constantly worry about it." Otherwise, accessorize the sofa with throws and cushions that can be washed and updated. "My last tip is to drape a large sheepskin over the sitting cushions, and then have a few throw pillows and a folded blanket. It'll add texture and cover a large portion of the surface area so that entertaining isn't stressful!" she says.
"The key to a luxe bedroom is creating multiple layers of heights, scale, and texture," says Roth. All-white rooms can look "flat," so she recommends experimenting with different shades of white, ivory, and cream to keep it interesting. "Another tip is to add a mirror, as it reads as a neutral and will reflect light," she says. "I also love an ivory throw over crisp white bedding."
Swap Out Light Bulbs
The biggest mistake people make when decorating with ivory furniture and accessories is their choice of lighting. Opt for the wrong bulb, and that creamy linen chair could look yellow. "If you want a [room] to appear whiter, then you need to look at the Kelvins," she says, which is the scale used to describe color temperature. "3500K to 4100K will be a white light and 3100L and below will appear more yellow. Again, this is a super-personal preference. I like a light temperature of 3100K, whereas my husband prefers 2700K—trial and error are important."