The other day I went to see someone for a design consultation.
The house was neat, well kept and very practical for a young couple but the rooms were fairly compact and most of them did not have an abundance of natural light. However, most of the spaces, including a hallway, were painted pure white.
It was the previous owners who did that and I can understand what they were trying to achieve – they thought that if they painted all walls white the house would look and feel spacious. However, it felt clinical and uninviting. This was the first thing I was aware of while being in that house.
This is probably one of the most common conversations I have with my clients and "white works everywhere" is one of the biggest misconceptions of interior design.
I mention it at my workshop and this is the design mantra I absolutely stand by. White on walls can’t be a default choice (this is when you don’t know what other colour to paint them) but should always be a deliberate choice.
Don’t get me wrong – I am totally not against white! When used well, it appears clean, crisp and timeless. And it could make the space look absolutely amazing! But only if you know when and how to use it.
Contrary to what most people think, it works best in spaces with a generous amount of natural light. If you don’t use any other colours I would always advise using lots of texture to avoid it feeling flat and cold.
But if you are happy to embrace colour then white background could really help and make all the other colours pop. Think how amazing colourful artwork would look against white!
Have a look at these stunning rooms that show how to use white to enhance the space.
If you dont have the space to show off white to its best advantage but would still like your room to look light and airy go for a gentle off-white. It will do the trick but will look softer and more forgiving.
However, if you have a small light-deprived room don't even think about using white. There are spaces you cant make light no matter what. White walls there would look drab and dull. Instead, use rich colour or interesting wallpaper to create cocooning or dramatic effect. Plan your lighting carefully to create the right ambience. Try it once and you will see what I mean. You will never want to consider white in a dark room ever again.
Check out these small dark jewel-like rooms.
Hope it all makes sense and gives you some idea of when to paint walls white and when to avoid it.