The Story of Winter White

The sun rises behind naked trees, slowly warming the day with its diffuse light, reaching through the low mist to touch frosty fields. That ethereal moment before the gossamer shroud lifts and we feel cossetted in the warm glow of Winter White. White with the merest hint of yellow, tempered with a touch of gauzy grey.


Winter White Landscape

Colour Associations

Hailing from the fashion industry, Winter White is associated with texture and warmth. Clothes and interiors of Winter White leave us feeling hyggeligt*. Unlike the bright, pristine, blue-white of summer shirts and floaty dresses that help us keep cool under the midday sun, layers of wool, cashmere and fur in Winter White envelop us and protect us from the cold. Known also as ecru, from the French meaning unbleached, this shade of white has its roots in the A/W collections of leading fashion houses wanting to prolong the wearability of white, extending the season through cuts of heavier, textured cloths and natural materials impossible to bleach pure white.

Winter White fashion

How Winter White makes us Feel

Raw and textural, Winter White swaddles and protects us, it makes us feel positive and open to what is to come. Little wonder it is a favourite of the Danes who decorate their homes in layers of white to maximise light during the long, dark winter months.

Winter White interior
image source: Danielle de Lange via Flickr | Danish Sitting Room

History of White

Historically, white is a symbol of purity and simplicity, worn by Rome’s ancient priestesses and the Brahmins of India. Renaissance art perpetuated the myth of the white unicorn, able only to be tamed by a young virgin, leaving white it a metaphor for chastity. In English heraldry white (or silver) signifies virtue and integrity. White speaks of new beginnings, innocence and anticipation of the future.

White in Nature

In nature, white is most often associated with the onset of winter, the first dusting of snow.  Also with texture: frothy Old Man’s Beard in the hedgerows, downy feathers and tactile furs. Taking cues from both nature and the catwalk Winter White works well in a cosy sitting room, relaxing bedroom or sociable kitchen if you follow a few design rules.

How to use Winter White in an Interiors Scheme

  • Mix shades of white, ivory, cream and ecru in different textures and weights to create interest and tactility
  • Keep furnishings simple and modern
  • Layer chairs, sofas and beds with cushions and throws and for comfort and introduce rugs in natural shades
  • Use it as a clean canvas on walls to draw attention to artwork or treasured decorative pieces
  • Break up Winter White by adding black details or an accent colour for interest
  • Combine with sunny yellow, palest peach and shades of steely blue and soft grey
  • Consider a layered lighting scheme to include ambient lighting, warm squirrel-cage  bulbs and lots and lots of candles
  • Combine with warm surfaces such as wood, wool and warm metals such as copper, brass and rose gold

Winter White Bedroom

For more images of Winter White interiors and for interior inspiration, you can visit my Pinterest board  here.  In the meantime, happy designing!

* from the Danish ‘hygge’ meaning cosy