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White or Ivory Linens: the Experts at Matouk Help You Choose

White or Ivory Linens: the Experts at Matouk Help You Choose

Left: Bed with Mirasol. Right: Providence.

This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared on October 30, 2015.

In the old world tradition of luxury linens, the choices for colors was white, white or ...white. If looking for an adventure, ivory was a risqué substitute. The world has expanded, and those looking for choices in luxury bed linens will find an endless array of colors and patterns. And yet. With all of these colorful choices, the majority of people feel that sheets and towels should be white; they are by far our best sellers. Maybe tradition is actually the new modern.

Melanie Angeles-Dizon manages the Matouk New York showroom and thus works with many of our designers and clients. She says that most of her customers use white sheeting as a base into which other colors and patterns can be mixed. And, she says, “they like the crispness of white sheets.”

Tradition aside, our product designers point out that people like to emulate the look of hotel bedding, and hotel bedding is always white. Colleen Daniels, who oversees our product design, says, “Hotels are paying a lot of attention to design. The hotel bed dressed with crisp white percale symbolizes modern comfort. White is perceived as more modern; minimalist interiors are all white.”  And, although we certainly don’t recommend it, some opt for white sheets so they can bleach them. (View our post on caring for your linens here.)

That said, both white and ivory bed linens do have a place. Daniels notes that ivory enjoys phases of popularity. Not only does it seem to fall in and out of fashion, but it’s also seasonal. “Ivory sells better in fall and winter,” she says.

Angeles-Dizon finds that in her experience with designers and their clients, the white versus ivory debate is usually influenced by the design and decor of the individual room. Daniels concurs, noting that people might choose ivory if there are a lot of warm woods and neutral elements in the interior because the yellow undertones of ivory linens blend better. She says, “Ivory has a certain elegance that works well in traditional designs, and can look very sophisticated.” However, Daniels says, “Ivory can also come across as more masculine, especially when paired with charcoal or taupe accents.”

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A bed dressed in Matouk Olivia linens.

There’s no doubt that ivory communicates an antique feel, as is the case with Matouk Olivia bed linens. “Customers who choose ivory sheeting,” says Angeles-Dizon “tend to be less urban and contemporary. The rooms are softer, warmer, and more neutral. Our 600 thread-count Milano Ivory is a subtle ivory.”

Matouk Olivia linens incorporate a lace inset with an antique feel that is feminine and rich, and brings up the idea of heirloom linens. Also, Daniels points out that decorative details such as monograms or trim are more visible in ivory. “Tonal embroidery on ivory sheeting has more depth than white-on-white designs,” she says.

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Left: Bed with Nikita duvet and shams paired with Lowell sheets. Upper right: Chatham blankets. Lower right: Luca pillowcases and shams.

But really, why should we have to choose? Mixing white and ivory in a single vignette looks modern and fresh. Daniels tells us that white sheets with champagne accents are a Matouk best seller. Going back to the idea of style trends, Graham has noticed that large companies that create bedding have been mixing white and ivory in recent years. “Mixing white and ivory has become more popular,” she says “to the point that it’s almost mainstream.”

The bed above, styled with a Matouk Nikita duvet and shams along with classic Lowell sheets, and layered with a Chatham waffle blanket, is a great example of marrying crisp white and softerIvory tones. Daniels says, “The champagne print is very small, so it reads ivory, but stays sharp. It’s a way to bring depth to the bed, while still maintaining the pristine vibe of an all white bed.”

Designers Sound Off

In an informal survey of designers, here’s what a dozen had to say on the white versus ivory linen debate:

Marcus Springer: Ivory. It’s warmer.

Duncan Hughes: White. It evokes feelings of fresh, clean, and calm. Bonus for 100 percent Irish linen, wrinkles and all.

Diana Kennedy: White. Ivory looks like a sweat stain.

Jennifer Scheer Lieberman, Decorum: White—ironed of course. It’s crisp and clean. However, in certain situations that require a more blended look with less contrast, ivory can be lovely.

Jill Goldberg, Hudson: Always white.

Ritch Holben, RhDesign: We redid our bed with a pearl-colored linen duvet paired with charcoal sheets and we love it! It’s less jarring than pure white. Un-ironed, of course, as they say ironing destroys the fibers over time.

Kristen Rivoli: I used ivory in a room that needed to be soft. The white sheets would have been too stark a contrast.

Elizabeth Pruett Herbert, Fringed Benefits Designs: I love crisp linen ivory sheets in nurseries, especially on the crib. The softer tone blends well with modern color mixes like turquoise, leaf green, and coral. White is not always right.

Melissa Miranda: White!!!

Lynn Dayton, Dayton Home: Ivory. White can be too cold.

Julie Richard, Shelter Interior Design: White. It’s so clean and crisp!

Kate Lowry: I mix shades of white together. Done right, it looks amazing.

For more white-centric design and serene neutral looks, visit our Pinterest boards Whispers of White and Bedroom Sanctuaries.