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Is ivory or white better?

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When it comes to choosing between ivory and white, there are a few key factors to consider. Both ivory and white are popular neutral colors that can work well in a variety of contexts from weddings to home decor. However, there are some distinct differences between the two shades that may make one better suited than the other depending on your needs and preferences. In this article, we’ll look at the characteristics of ivory and white, how they compare, and when you may want to choose one over the other.

What is Ivory?

Ivory is an off-white color that has a slightly warm, creamy yellow undertone. It takes its name from the milky white color of elephant tusks which were historically used to produce ivory goods. While pure ivory comes from elephant tusks, today ivory also refers to any light yellowish-white color. Ivory tends to look slightly duller and warmer than a bright white. It gives off a softer, more subtle effect than stark white.

What is White?

White is a pure achromatic color, meaning it contains no hints of other hues. It reflects and scatters all visible wavelengths of light equally, making it appear vivid and bright to the eye. White is often associated with cleanliness, simplicity, and purity. It has a crisp, stark, and modern look. Bright white has an intensity that makes it stand out against other colors.

The Main Differences Between Ivory and White

– Color tone: Ivory has a warm, creamy undertone while white is a pure, neutral color.

– Brightness: White reflects light more sharply for a vivid effect while ivory is more muted.

– Feel: Ivory has a softer, more subtle look compared to the stark bright look of white.

– Associations: White conveys cleanliness and modernity; ivory has an antique, vintage feel.

– Versatility: White works with more color schemes including brights and pastels. Ivory works best with warmer palettes.

When to Choose Ivory Over White

Here are some of the main reasons you may want to select ivory over white:

– You want a soft, warm tone. The creamy undertones of ivory give it a gentler look compared to crisp white. This makes it ideal for creating a cozy, welcoming mood.

– You have a vintage style. Ivory has an antique, weathered quality reminiscent of old heirlooms. It’s perfect for vintage or rustic styled weddings and interiors.

– You want it to blend in. White stands out boldly against other colors. Ivory is more subtle and meshes seamlessly into softer color palettes.

– You want a flexible neutral. While white looks stark next to black, ivory complements and balances both dark and light shades.

– You have a warmer skin tone. Ivory flatters warm complexions better than white, which can sometimes cast an icy tone on the skin.

When to Choose White Over Ivory

Here are some situations where white may be the better choice over ivory:

– You want a clean, modern look. White has a sleek, contemporary feel that makes it ideal for modern minimalist styles.

– You have cool-toned decor. White pops against cool grays, blues and silvers. Ivory would look dingy and mismatched.

– You want it to stand out. White makes a bold, dramatic statement and grabs attention. Ivory blends in more as a mellow neutral.

– You wear white after Labor Day. The “no white after Labor Day” rule doesn’t necessarily apply to ivory.

– You want high contrast. White creates striking contrast against black for graphic, high-impact looks.

– You have a cool skin tone. White flatters people with pinkish, rosy complexions better than the yellowish ivory.

Decorating with Ivory vs White

Here are some tips for decorating with ivory and white and how to mix and match them effectively:

– Use ivory as your main neutral and white as accents for some contrast.

– Add ivory pillows to a white sofa to warm up the look.

– Use white trimwork against ivory walls for definition.

– Pair ivory furniture with white rugs and accessories for balance.

– Mix ivory and white dishes on a tabletop or open shelves.

– Choose ivory lamp shades and white lamp bases.

– Use white shelves or cabinets against ivory painted walls.

– Add ivory throws and pillows to white chairs and sofas.

Wedding Gowns: Ivory vs White

Factor Ivory White
Tone Warm, soft Cool, stark
Style Vintage, romantic Modern, dramatic
Complexion Warmer skin tones Cooler pinkish skin tones
Accents Champagne, rose gold Silver, blue

When it comes to wedding gowns, ivory and white each have their own distinctive look and feel. Here are some tips on when to go for ivory over crisp white:

– Ivory is ideal for outdoor, daytime weddings. It doesn’t glare in sunlight like white.

– Choose ivory if you want a romantic, vintage style wedding with soft rose and champagne accents.

– Ivory flatters warmer skin tones. Those with yellow/olive undertones look great in ivory.

– Go for ivory if you want a dress with antique lace, ruffles or pearl accents.

– Ivory works well for winter weddings, as white can sometimes look icy.

Alternatively, pick bright white for:

– A chic, modern wedding with sleek lines and minimalist details.

– An ultra-formal hotel or church ceremony. White makes a bold statement.

– A wedding with blue and silver toned accents instead of warm metallics.

– Showing off a tan – white pops against bronzed skin.

– Making a dramatic entrance in a bold white ballgown style dress.

Paint Colors: Ivory or White?

Room Ivory White
Living room Warm and inviting Crisp and bright
Kitchen Vintage charm Clean and modern
Bedroom Calming and relaxing Fresh and airy
Bathroom Spa-like ambiance Bright and spacious

When picking paint colors for your home, both ivory and white can work well in any room. But some rooms may benefit from one over the other based on the mood you want to create. Here are some quick tips:

– Ivory for a cozy living room, inviting bedroom or vintage kitchen.

– White to make small rooms appear larger and illuminated.

– Ivory walls with white trim for definition without too much contrast.

– White for a bright, spacious bathroom or clean, modern kitchen.

– Ivory cabinets with a white island for a soft, welcoming kitchen.

– White shelving to break up ivory walls, or vice versa.

Test out swatches in different lighting before deciding between ivory or white paint. And consider adjacent rooms and furnishings – ivory may transition better between rooms than stark white.


So in summary, when choosing between ivory and white, consider the overall look and ambiance you want to create. Soft, subtle ivory suits vintage, romantic and warmer themed d??cor. Crisp white works best for modern, dramatic styles and cooler color schemes. Ivory harmonizes well blended with other neutral tones. White makes a bold statement on its own. Look at adjacent colors and your overall style as well to determine whether ivory or white paint and accents will be most flattering. With some strategic planning, both elegant ivory and brilliant white can enable you to manifest the home d??cor of your dreams.