There are a lot of off-whites in this world, but ivory is one of the most elegant options on offer. The color is softer than cream, warmer than bone, and a touch darker than eggshell. It’s the kind of color that adds warmth and elegance to your home in equal measure. And since it’s not quite as obvious as white, it’s a pretty fun neutral to play with.
What Is Ivory?
Ivory is a creamy off-white shade that resembles the material it’s named after: the hard white substance that makes up the teeth and tusks of many animals.
Of course, decorating with any new color presents its own challenges—even when that color is as versatile as ivory. But, tons of interior designers have already taken on the task, making it incredibly easy for you to bring a little ivory into your home. "We love designing with ivory since it is such a timeless, sophisticated color that is versatile enough to be used in a multitude of design styles," says interior designer Imani James.
Meet the Expert
Imani James is an Atlanta-based interior designer and founder of Imani James Interiors.
Ahead, find 28 of the prettiest ivory rooms we’ve ever laid eyes on—and design ideas worth stealing from each of them.
Set the Tone With Ivory Walls
Color can be a great way to set the tone in any space—and that holds true even when dealing with a gentle neutral like ivory. Ivory walls can warm up a room, making it feel sleeker, cozier, or more elegant, depending on what furniture you pair it with.
Opt for an Ivory Bedspread
Looking to add a little ivory to your space without springing for a fresh coat of paint? A warm ivory bedspread can be a great way to do so. Since bedspreads are large, they can completely transform your space, and since they’re less permanent than a coat of paint or a full-blown reno, you can easily swap them out any time you want to try something new.
Mix and Match Your Throw Pillows
Ivory throw pillows abound, and many of them come in different patterns, prints, and textures. So, you can stock up on a few to add some ivory to your space.
If you want your palette to feel textured and dynamic, mix-and-match some different options.
Create a Floor-to-Ceiling Color Scheme
If you want ivory to feel really present in your space, consider using it from ceiling to floor. Paint your ceiling ivory, cover your walls in ivory drapes, and outfit your floors with plush ivory carpets. You’ll feel enveloped in subtle warmth every time you step into the space, and since ivory is such a light shade, you won’t have to worry about your palette feeling loud or overwhelming.
Layer Shades of White
Ivory is just a step away from white—and gray is, too. Combining ivory, white, and gray can create a surprisingly dynamic color scheme—even though you’re exclusively decorating with neutrals.
Shake Up Your Palette
Your palette doesn’t have to stop at white and ivory. The neutrals play well with a variety of different colors, so take advantage. "Warm ivory tones in interiors are particularly lovely when paired with hunter green, smoke gray, and black furnishings," James says.
Throw some bold red accents into your palette, or stock up on a few vibrant prints. Your palette can likely handle more color than you think it can, so push yourself to take a risk—and backtrack if it doesn’t look quite the way you envisioned.
Take a Risk on Ivory Art
Most of us use art to add a pop of vibrant color to our spaces, but you can just as easily use it to add a pop of subtle color—like ivory—instead.
Plus, since ivory art is a less obvious pick than something bolder or darker, it can pack a surprisingly statement-making punch.
Create an Accent Corner
You don’t have to scatter ivory pieces around your space. In fact, by constraining them to one corner, you can create an accent space that feels statement-making, but not distracting.
Play With Tone and Texture
An ivory palette doesn’t have to skew boring. By playing with tone and stocking up on pieces with different textures, you can create a space that feels both dynamic and cohesive.
Go Subtle With Your Contrast
When most of us hear the word “contrast,” we envision sleek blacks paired with crisp whites or subtle neutrals paired with vibrant reds. But the truth is that contrast can look much more subtle than that. By hanging white art on an ivory wall—or vice versa—you can create contrast that feels understated rather than eye-catching.
Mind Your Details
Your walls, floors, and ceilings matter a lot—and your furniture does, too. But, that’s no reason to neglect the smaller fixtures in your space. Pay attention to details like windows and trim. These smaller spots can be great places for adding cohesion with a matching color or adding contrast with an accent color.
Use Wallpaper to Your Advantage
Wallpaper can be a great way to try a color in your space without completely committing to it. If you’re intrigued by the idea of warming up your bathroom with ivory walls, consider using wallpaper during your test-run.
Mix and Match Your Linens
Ivory linens are everywhere, so it’s easy to establish an ivory palette using only blankets and curtains. For a subtler décor scheme, opt for solid linens that match, and if you’d rather make things more dynamic, look for printed linens that feel similar but are not the same.
Play With Pops of Ivory
Pops of color tend to be associated with vibrant shades, like red, yellow, and blue. But, when rendered in the right context, pops of ivory can be just as striking. If a corner of your home is filled with black and white pieces, consider adding ivory to the mix. The warm neutral will complement them both by bringing out their shadows and highlights.
Balance Out Your Boldest Pieces
Ivory makes an excellent canvas for a variety of colors, so utilize it as a backdrop for your boldest pieces. The neutral can bring out the best in warmer shades like red, orange, and yellow, and it can balance out cooler colors like green, blue, and purple.
Add Warmth to Your Bathroom
When redecorating your home, don’t forget about your bathroom. A coat of ivory paint or a brand new set of ivory tiles could be just the thing it needs to feel warm and welcoming again.
Cozy up Your Space With a Rug
Colorful rugs can make a statement in any space. But neutral rugs can have just as much of an impact when put in the right setting. Got a wooden dining room table and a set of sleek white chairs? Combine them with a printed ivory rug to add some visual contrast and plush texture to your space.
Paint Your Doors
When transforming your home’s palette, painting your walls is a tried-and-true go-to—but painting your doors can be another great way to get the job done. If doors are prominent in your space, consider painting them ivory and leaving your walls a crisp white.
Commit to Your Palette
It doesn’t matter how bold the colors in your palette are: If you commit to them, you will end up making a statement. Selecting one to two base colors and one to two accent colors—and making sure everything is color-coordinated within that palette—is a surefire way to craft a striking space.
Balance Out Your Light
Window-filled rooms are an absolute blessing, but if all that natural light is streaming into your bedroom, it might interrupt your ability to sleep—or at least, to sleep in. Stock up on warm ivory drapes, and use them to craft the balance of light you’re looking for.
Since the color is relatively light, it shouldn’t leave your space feeling cavernous, but since it’s a touch darker than white, it should still give you the coziness you seek.
Use Ivory as an Accent
You can bring ivory into your space without making your space all ivory. If you’ve got an all-white room, consider adding an ivory accent or two. The warm neutral should stand out in such a crisp, light palette—even if a couple other pops of color are already present in your space.
Explore the Gamut of Neutrals
Ivory is just one of the many neutrals you have to play with, and since neutrals tend to remain versatile in just about any setting, you can combine every neutral you can think of without crafting an entirely overwhelming space.
Pair ivory with white and black—then throw in some beiges and browns for good measure. This dynamic palette should leave your space feeling textured, but not terribly busy.
Spring for an Ivory Chandelier
A bold light fixture can set the tone in any space. And while ivory chandeliers are relatively rare, they do exist—and do pack a serious punch when hung in your space.
Try a Two-Tone Palette
White and ivory tend to play incredibly well together, so stock up on both in equal measure. Opt for white walls and ivory furniture, or fully commit to your two-tone palette by making the top half of your space white and the bottom half ivory.
Make a Subtle Statement
Many of us associate the phrase “statement-making” with bold prints and vibrant colors. But the truth is, adding texture in a surprising place can be just as striking—even when that texture is rendered in a soft neutral, like ivory.
Remember that a subtle palette doesn’t have to mean a boring space, and look for pieces that feel both gentle and eye-catching at once.
Warm up Your Color Scheme
Since ivory is so neutral, it can easily be dismissed as a background color or a shade not worth paying attention to. But, it can make a striking addition to your space. Opt for the warmest shade of ivory you can find, and decorate with it from ceiling to floor. You may be surprised at how present the oft-overlooked neutral looks in your space.
Play With Washed-Out Shades
Ivory looks great alongside other warm colors, like red, orange, yellow, and pink, and this holds true even when those colors aren’t particularly saturated. Consider pairing a warm ivory with a warmer beige—and an even warmer washed-out tangerine.
Gently Transform Your Space
An all-white palette may feel like something you’ve seen before, but swap that crisp white with a warm ivory, and suddenly, you’ve transformed your space. No, this makeover isn’t as dramatic as it might’ve been if you chose a bolder shade, like burgundy or indigo. But, sometimes, dramatic isn’t what your space needs—and a subtler change can make all the difference.