A laundry list of whites from snowy to eggshell is continuing to gain popularity this year providing a canvas for accent colors or as a stand-alone color palette. As interior design moves toward simplicity, eco-chic and cultural diversity, white is emerging as a design scheme that enhances and incorporates these values. It calms and renews and serves as a way of drawing a room’s focus to cherished pieces of art, collectibles or natural woods and stone. Outside, white can serve as a backdrop to the natural beauty of your outdoor space. “Time and again, contemporary issues and trends are mirrored by the themes we choose for our homes and the products we buy,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “Eco-awareness is a resounding theme as consumers continue to be more thoughtful about what they are buying and the impact their choices will have on the world. Today’s consumers find innovative ways to recycle, reuse and re-purpose. At the same time, there is also a need to relax, rewind, renew and hopefully, refurbish. The 2009 palettes address these trends, which will be reflected in designs and products for the home in the coming year.” Two basic rules of thumb apply when using white. First, white is many colors. Check out the color chips at your local paint store and you’ll be surprised to see how many hues exist. Mixing subtle tones of white can add depth and interest to a white color scheme. Secondly, using white allows the character of a piece of furniture or accessory to dominate rather than eye-popping color or pattern. “Clean, simple and basic, bright white allows form to shine through and silhouettes to be highlighted,” said design*sponge blogger and Brooklyn-based writer, Grace Bonney. “In a design world full of bright colors and lots of surface pattern, I think some designers have decided to choose simple bright white for its ability to let the shape of an object shine, rather than patterns or bold colors.” White offers a number of benefits. It reflects light so it makes a room look larger. It goes with any color so periodically switching accent pieces can be done easily. And it has a unifying effect that pulls a room together, said Sarah Van Arsdale of the New York-based Sheffield School of Interior Design.