This post may contain affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission on any purchase at no cost to you. Think of it as a tip for great content! I only promote products I use or would buy myself.
There was a time when a new home came with all white rooms. Builders simply sprayed all the walls white, and if the homeowner wanted something different they could change it once they moved in. Most people just kept the white walls in a majority of their rooms because it wouldn’t clash with any decor change. Times have changed, and builders now frequently choose neutral wall colors that add some warmth. They know that most people will have a more favorable impression of the home with some color on the walls.
Finding a new home with all white walls in all but the lowest of price points is now the exception, not the rule.White is making a comeback as a wall choice, but I think it’s very important to know when to use white – and to not just use it as a fallback. This is because white walls can be stark and if used incorrectly, can make a room feel cheap. At best, a white wall won’t contribute any sort of personality to the room.
White is making a comeback
Due to several factors such as the influence of farmhouse and Scandinavian decor, white is making a comeback as a wall choice. If you are considering an all-white room, you need to weigh the decision carefully. First, decide what overall feel and design aesthetic you wish to invoke. Also, decide how much time and effort would be required to keep the space clean and uncluttered. An all-white room is very difficult to keep clean, especially if you have a large or active family.
Best room choices for all white walls
Painting walls can easily, quickly, and inexpensively add impact, warmth, and ambiance. A white wall makes an entirely different statement, depending on how it’s used. Below are some situations where you may want to consider white as your primary room color:
An all-white room.
Rare, and usually stark and dramatic. Difficult to keep pristine but truly impactful when achieved. Often very modern in feel, although it is also seen in farmhouse decor and all white transitional kitchens. Typically used in an open or large room with plenty of windows
An achromatic room.
Black and white and shades of gray. Personally, I would choose a shade of gray in this situation and would consider a black impact wall, but it would depend on the other room elements.
A farmhouse/shiplap room.
This trend has seen a huge resurgence with the popularity of “farmhouse” style. An evolution of “shabby chic”, but a little less feminine in feel. In this case, you could also consider using a tinted white paint ..a white paint with a hint of beige, yellow, or peach to reduce the starkness factor. Most rooms in this style have vintage elements, which are rarely stark white.
A white kitchen.
Very popular right now, but difficult to maintain. In this case, the finishes you select can determine the ease of maintenance. You should consider sealed, heat-proof counter surfaces for easy cleaning, and a glossier finish on cabinets to prevent staining and make cleaning easier. Also, make sure your backsplash is easy to clean, particularly if you like to cook! This would involve a larger tile and sealed grout. All white walls might also be appropriate if there are painted cabinets in the room. Since cabinets take up so much of the wall space, white walls would be more of an accent.
A Scandinavian/Norwegian influence.
The revival of Hygge (a feeling of coziness) has brought Scandinavian style back to our attention. For some reason, the Scandinavian style has always been associated with a dominance of white – maybe because of our correlation of those countries with snow. You can make this look cozier and less stark by mixing textures and tonal (white on white or beige on white) patterns. Luxurious touches such as faux fur, deep pile, and soft finishes in textiles, furnishings, and accessories help to minimize the stark effect in these rooms. You could also add very light neutral accent colors such as sand, silver, or pale grey (or even blush) to add warmth and personality to the room.
Variations of white
Within the white family, there are tints and variations of white. On one end of the spectrum, there is an optic white, which is very bright white. This white often has some type of reflective element which makes it very bright and stark. An optic white room can be very intimidating and jolting. Also, there are warm whites, cool whites, true white, and a thousand other versions with slightly different nuances. Some of the white tints imbue a hint of color without being overwhelming and might be a better choice. Try to consider what feeling you want in the room and choose a color (or tinted white) that would emphasize this feeling. Most paint stores have tinted white palettes with several tinted white options.
In closing, a white room can be a beautiful open space filled with light or a stark, jolting room that makes visitors uncomfortable. When you decide to design an all-white room, make sure you are consciously and intentionally using this (lack of) color to create a specific ambiance and are not just choosing it because “it goes with everything”. White rooms can be a distinct design statement if done correctly!
Until next time,