11.10.2011

Avoiding Disaster: All "White"

I HATE, loathe, despise, detest, and cringe at all white interiors. More specifically, ultra mod all white interiors. Now, this is just a personal opinion, but this is also my design blog (welcome all!) and so my opinion on the matter is what is being expressed today. Frankly, they feel institutional, bland, cold, sterile, impersonal, stuffy, unapproachable, intimidating, uncomfortable...I could go on and on...

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On the other hand, I also detest the whole "all white shabby chic" thing where every room in your house is overtly feminine and frilly and excessively distressed or "vintage." It also feels forced, fake, uncomfortable, unapproachable, unattainable, and more like a showpiece than an actual space where people live. Case in point: while yes, this nursery does look nice and angelic it feels stuffy and like you are trying too hard. Oh, and good luck with little Johnny (or Susie) there when the get a nice bout of reflux. Be practical with your designs people. The point of interior design is to enhance your lifestyle (and be aesthetically outstanding) not to look pretty but force you to sit on the edge of the plastic covered sofa with your hands folded afraid to move or touch anything...IN YOUR OWN HOUSE! I swear, nothing annoys me so.

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I much prefer my white interiors to be...well, off white. The warmer undertones in the following "white" rooms feels more inviting, approachable, welcoming, comfortable, and are most definitely easier on the eyes. The cool blue undertones of our first picture gives me a deer in the headlights feeling...like I am exposed and vulnerable and should be concerned about how my pores look in such harsh lighting.

So, here are some "guidelines," if you will, for my approach to "white":

1.) Use warmer undertones in your "white" base color.

2.) Don't be afraid to mix your "white" with other neutrals such as pale pale dove grey, other shades of "white," taupe's, browns, and dare I say...black!? (Yes you can insert some black in your "all white" interiors")

3.) Texture, texture, texture. This is everything people! When working with such a limited pallet it is vital to create visual interest by combining various visual and tactile textures. This creates dimension, depth, and variety to the space. Case in point: the all smooth, modern, lacquered, and high gloss surfaces in picture uno offers little interest or stimulation.

4.) Metallics- incorporating a dash of gold, brass, bronze, pewter, silver, nickle, whatever into your "white" space further enhances the visual layering effect and adds a bit of shine and sparkle to capture your eye.

5.) Anchor- all "white" can feel very airy and open, which is kinda the point, but can also leave you feeling like you are floating around. Anchor the space from the zero gravity feel with textural or printed rugs, a few pieces with heavier visual weight, pictures on the wall, or lots of throw pillows and blankets. Not only will this personalize and cozy up your space, but it will keep it from free falling.

6.) Mix and match/ variety- in order to avoid the overly done "mod" or "shabby chic" mix and match the two and land somewhere in the middle with a few modern pieces and a few vintage pieces. Remember to vary your furnishing pallet; a menu of all the same items will always be repetitively bland and boring and demonstrate a lack of creativity- especially when the limited furnishing pallet is in a limited color pallet.

Case Studies:

1.) warm "white" tone; anchored with weighty ottomans; glittery metallic accents; a hint of color in the wall art; loads of texture especially in the fantastic capiz shell by the mirror.


2.) Frilly, feminine, and traditional chandeliers are balanced by industrial feeling lamps; metallic patterned wallpaper in hallway breaks up the space visually and adds textural interest.

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3.) Stripes, stripes, STRIPES!!! Fantastic horizontal stripes in white and grey and linen drum pendant lights add a hint of modernity to this otherwise "shabby chic" table scape; the distressed finish on the chairs adds a warmer "white" hue to the cooler mix of the walls.

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4.) Ahhh! Where to begin...glitzy and more modern take on a traditional glass chandelier; mirrored fireplace to reflect the abundant light; airy lucite is balanced by heavier weighted sofas; wood floors, textural and patterned rug and ebony sofa legs "ground" the space; full length floor to ceiling drapery softens the harsh edges of all the mirrored and lucite surfaces; mod accent chairs are balanced by more traditional sofa silhouettes.


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5.) The cooler "whites" of this bedroom are made amicable again through the aged brass on stellar vintage light fixtures and the textural caning on the also vintage settee; luscious, glossy, black floors anchor the entire space and add some much needed contrast and edge to the feminine feeling mix.

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 6.) Metallic Accents- See what I mean about the metallics? Those pendants totally MAKE this space and balance out the fabulous china display annnnd add that sparkle and shine in a totally non-frilly-chandelier-industrial sorta way. Visual texture and variation is created by the beamed ceiling design, the patterned tile floor, the marble veining of the table top and, of course, the dynamic chair silhouette. Dark chair cushions anchor the space.

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There now, "white" seems slightly more attainable, doesn't it?
Do White. Do it Right,

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