All the homes of my childhood had white walls which wasn’t because we were too lazy to paint or couldn’t agree on a colour; white walls are a common, wanted thing in Scandinavia like coffee at 10PM. White reflects light and makes everything seem brighter which is a plus for the long, dark days that winter brings. It also shows off artwork and food the best – and Danes area always about design and presentation.
I was in-love with white walls until my mid-teens when I began to experiment with wall colour. Both my mum and I went through some strange phase where she painted the dining room a two-toned jewel colour that scared everyone but us and my room had a dramatic burgundy shade with border. Then, later on, I was all about floral wall paper because when I lived in England the home had this all over with matching curtains and chaise. It was incredible (if you see the movie Atonement, you’ll understand exactly).
Being a vagabond and drifting from place to place I gave up on caring about white walls or painted, wallpaper or plain. I wasn’t living for decor, I was just living out of a suitcase! When I immigrated to America a few years ago, Seattle caught me off guard with it’s very cold, uncosy type days. I began to really think about home because I ended up spending so much time inside (and even more once I began to work for myself). So paint came out and every room received colour (a striking red, a cosy orange, a calming grey, a rich green).
However, when I moved to the beach town of Santa Monica California – home of Rachel Ashwell and her first Shabby Chic store – the rich, dark colours of the Pacific Northwest didn’t seem appropriate with the cool, easy going town. So I kept the white walls, got more white furniture, and loved the bright, breezy rooms I was creating.
It wasn’t until my current flat when my mum came to visit did she remark how Scandinavian it was. I was thinking it was very French Country meets Shabby Chic meets LA. But then I saw the white walls, the artwork and books and realised I’d come full circle.
I’m taking on a cottage in a seaside town for January and am in-love with the space and the view. What I’m not in-love with is the colour of the walls – that “safe” taupey beige everyone tells you to paint a home for it to be the most appealing.
It doesn’t appeal to me and in fact, makes some of the rooms seem darker than they are instead of the light, ocean cottage style in which they sit.
So yes, I am going to paint my walls white. This would have seemed ridiculous to me awhile ago but now I just can’t imagine not having white walls (and when I look at Holly’s White Collection on Flickr, I want them even more).
But what white? I know it has to be eco-friendly paint (low VOC) but the colour, flat, glossy, that I don’t know.
If you do, I’d love some help!