I’m always asked why white? How can I have a totally white house when I have a young daughter, two dogs and a clumsy husband? The answer is simple – white is the easiest colour to live with. It’s easy because actually white doesn’t show the dirt as much as you’d think. It is – of course – also easy to repaint if it does get too much.
Actually I also tell people that white isn’t white. There are so many shades of it – and I’m not talking about all the fancy shades from F&B which, while lovely, aren’t for me. I love the brilliance of pure white and then seeing what the texture of the material underneath offers up. It I paint it onto old wooden furniture then the white becomes mellowed by the years of use. If it’s straight onto fresh plaster – well it’s far more reflective.
I used to buy a lot of old pieces (vintage if you will, but value is in the eye of the beholder so they’re not all antiques!) and over time white has turned to off white, to dirty white, to used white, to a white that you can’t match but they all blend and that is why I think a white house isn’t stark or clinical. I’m not trying to find colours to match, or have a statement wall, the whites work together and bring their own warmth and difference.
I do appreciate that pure white isn’t for everyone but for us it works. Of course we have the odd pops of colour and I can’t resist a bit of chintz now and again, but overall white is where we’re at. My little girl used to ask for pink wardrobes (I could get away with telling her furniture was only made in white until I got rumbled when she started having playdates and sleepovers!) but we’ve relented and she has pink and yellow wardrobes, orange blinds, fuchsia radiator and violet cushions (she’s called Violet so that was obvious – although she was nearly called Pearl but that’s another story!). But that is her room and the rest is all about white.
When it came to my pottery it never occurred to me to try anything else – I love the white glaze that comes up all shiny. But even in my pottery it’s not all the same. Depending on the way I dip it, the texture of the clay, the groves or fingerprints that I’ve imprinted into the piece all changes the way the glaze holds. Each time they come out of the final fire it’s so exciting to see how white it is and the results I’ve achieved.
I used to be teased to all the others that go to my pottery class – maybe a little bit of ribbing because I didn’t want to experiment or test out the beautiful colours that they all were – not they know me they don’t bother to coax me with cobalt any more! They secretly like my white collection and a few have even admitted they’ve followed suit with some of theirs!
Here are my top tips for white house living:
Personally I stick to one brand of paint (I know many others don’t) as it helps if you need to repaint or touch up
Embrace the different shades of white – that will help break up the clinical feeling. It will also help give depth and warmth. I’m not one of these people who worries if things aren’t perfect (lucky really in an old house as something is always needing to be done!) but if the candle smoke gives one wall a slight tinge then that’s ok – it will all blend in! Perfectly imperfect
Lights will add colour and tone – let the day light shine through windows and have lovely sidelights for when you need lighting. Overhead lights will make things look brash
I use lots of mirrors – that bounces light around the room and shows the different textures introducedI love mixing old and new – white might be white but each piece will have their own tone and texture
Blend and mix, don’t try to matchIf you’re too scared to go all out try adding lots of white accessories into your room/rooms
Pottery (obviously!), cushions, lamps, rugs, flowers… simple steps to start you off
Above all else, white is right for us. Dirty white is just another shade, and bright white paint hides a multitude of marks! Which reminds me to add ‘painting furniture’ with paint to my list of future blogs – it has quite literally transformed my life (ok I’m prone to exaggeration!).
With that tease I’m off. Thank you so much for reading my first blog and hope to see you here again soon!