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From Colour to White

When I first started renting flats I was stuck with white walls which I always dreamed of painting but didn’t dare (I always needed the deposit back so badly!). But then years ago a friend whose flat I loved told me to just discard the deposit fee and think of it as “I need to live here fee” and had me start to paint my walls. Which I did. In a slightly crazy form I must say!

Then I got the hang of colour, how to make it work and began to put vibrant, bold colours in my home (usually just on a wall or two). Deep Rose Reds, wonderful burnt yellows, warm greens and dark greys filled up my home. But at the same time, I kept collecting images from Victoria Magazine (anyone remember that?) and bought every book that Rachel Ashwell wrote for Shabby Chic. With all the colour in my home, I started to fantasise about white walls.

Now I find myself torn because I love colour but also love white. I love the cosy places in the Pacific Northwest with their dark woods and warm tones as well as the pale colours I’ve often seen in French Chateaux’s. Aside from my office, my current home’s painted walls are colours that were decided by the people I bought it from. And since the house will be on the market soon, I’ve decided not to paint over it (they’re those neutral colours that are supposed to appeal to everyone. They don’t appeal to me). So as I live in a home of painted walls that aren’t my thing, I’m really thinking about my next place and what to do colour wise.

I’m leaning heavily towards white or very pale colours, especially after seeing the photo above and the site in which it came from. My wardrobe is colourful, my work is colourful, my accents are colourful and I think because of that I need some quiet in the home to balance it all.

I have all white furniture which has worked well in every kind of home with every colour choice. But when I tried to do all white before I think I did it rather badly and want, instead, to make it cosy and beautiful instead of cold and bland. But I’m not sure where to find the right pale paints (I once tried a pale pink that was so Peptobismal/old people’s home looking that I had to go with a deep red instead), the textured fabrics, the accents to compliment that wouldn’t be too frilly or girly (something I find happens to things that are pale) or how to go from so much colour back to white.

What’s the trick?



  1. January 17, 2007 / 2:42 AM

    I’m a lover of white, too.
    It doesn’t get ANY better
    than Benjamin Moore’s “Decorator’s White” in my opinion. It’s not stark white, but it’s also not greyish or blue or pinky, it’s just dead on beautiful white.


  2. January 17, 2007 / 9:17 AM

    All the walls in our home were white but when my husband’s son told us that it looked like a musuem-hey, we had just moved in-I decided to add some color and painted one wall textured ochre and a little wc Provencial blue. I love both of them and am now ready to paint a wall in our bedroom. Haven’t decided on a color yet.

  3. January 18, 2007 / 5:45 PM

    I like white walls, but like you, I’ve been living in places where I haven’t been able to paint and I’m getting desperate for color. If you want to stick with white walls, but want to spice it up a little, how about selecting a white on white brocade wallpaper for your walls? It’ll turn otherwise blah walls into elegant and beautiful walls that’ll add to your room without committing to color.

  4. January 21, 2007 / 1:26 AM

    I struggle with this one too! Right now most of the walls in our house are some colour or another, all of which we painted right when we moved in. Now that we’ve been here for a while, and lived with the light, space, etc we’re thinking of repainting. And, I’m half drawn to white for exactly the reasons you quote. That said, my sweetie prefers very bold colours, so it is always a struggle.

    I can say, that one of the tricks with white really is finding the right white for a room. I second Holly’s thoughts on the BM decorator’s white, but can also say that in some rooms different whites will read really differently. In our office for example, we wanted a nice soft white and picked some chips we liked, but in the end, in the space we picked one that read on the chip as having a lot of purple in it (not mauve, not lavendar, but actually really purple). In the space, it is exactly what we wanted: soft, a bit of depth but not beige or dirty looking and I would never have chosen it based on the chip alone.

  5. February 11, 2007 / 10:09 AM

    I love your use of white. We are yet to do the interior of our house but it will be using a colar called Polar white. We have one green feature wall in the house in the lounge which has a series of leadlights in it but the rest will be white with off whitre ceilings. The outside colurs will refelct enough through the windows.