Ideas + Advice


Ivory Color Guide: Refresh + Calm with Soothing Off-White

Featuring a luxuriously creamy tone, ivory can instantly warm, calm and refresh – all at once. Here’s how to incorporate ivory into your home.

What Color Is Ivory?

One of the most common shades of white used in interior decorating, the color ivory is warmer than pure bright white and features a yellow or beige tinge. ‘Ivory,’ ‘off-white,’ and ‘cream’ are often used interchangeably to describe the same soft hue.

What Does the Color Ivory Symbolize?

Tinged with yellow or beige undertones, ivory is a softer and warmer form of white – and thus brings softer, warmer connotations than pure white alone.
Named after the creamy tint found in the tusks of elephants and horns of rhinoceri (which, throughout history, were prized in many cultures and symbolized wealth and prosperity), ivory today is often associated with elegance, luxury and a calming clean feeling.

How to Style with the Color Ivory in Interior Design

Ivory Living Room Ideas

In the living room, use ivory sparingly (especially if you live with kids!). Ivory makes stains, spills and dirt easily visible, so unless you know there won't be any accidents, it's safer to incorporate ivory in small doses. Instead of ivory-white carpeting, for instance, go with a smaller ivory area rug, which takes up less floor space and is the easier to clean!

Ivory Bedroom Ideas

Ivory linens, curtains, rugs and decor turn a regular bedroom into a calm, refreshing retreat. If you want to incorporate the color in a small space, let the focus be on the curtains; ivory linens in a thin, see-through material will cast a warm neutral color and natural glow. Tip: If you're not sure which shade of white paint to choose, take a look at the decor you have in the room, and bring one or two pieces (a decorative dish, a picture frame) with you to the paint store, so that you can compare the decor up close for a perfect match.

Ivory is a shade of white, which means it packs high style versatility. Because ivory often contains yellow undertones, though, if you are considering pairing a second color with ivory, pay attention to the undertones of the second color choice. Does the color lean toward warmer or cooler undertones, or does it contain no undertones at all?

The warmer the shade of ivory you use in your home, the warmer the undertones should be in any secondary colors you use for accent pieces, decor, etc.
If the color you want to use does not seem to have any undertones at all, feel free to style it however you wish with ivory; it is often the case that such a color features a balance of cool and warm, making it compatible with a wide array of shades.

Ivory vs. White

Think of ivory as more of a naturally-occuring white, and "white white" as more of a man-made white. The former is found in white seashells, pearls, sand and stones. The latter is usually only seen in manufactured items that are stained with bleach or a bright dye to obtain the hue.

Ivory vs. Beige

Ivory is a soft shade of white and beige is a soft shade of brown or tan. Together, the two make a coastal-inspired color palette, since both compose the majority of the makeup of beaches (and other nature destinations). If you want more warmth, go heavy on different shades of beige!

Ivory vs. Cream Colors

Compared to cream, ivory is more white. Cream can be thought of as closer to yellow on the spectrum, warmer and less bright. Usually, these two colors don't match.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.