I Went White

A little less than two years ago, I painted our family room Favorite Tan.  It’s a lovely color and after living in white rentals for 3 years we decided it would be ok to paint some walls in our current rental.  Nope, we didn’t ask, we just picked colors that we knew would work with the over all flow of the house {and our stuff as well} and tried to do a decent paint job knowing that if the owner insisted, we would just paint the walls back when we left or, forgo our deposit.

Then a few weeks ago I finally gave into something I’d been considering for the past six months.  Going white.  It’s no glory, hero, staged, finished photo I’m still tweaking…ok, I’m never done tweaking but, you get the idea: MY WALLS ARE WHITE, PEOPLE!

Many times I found myself sitting on the sofa staring into the breakfast room back there {ok, so in this picture I’m talking to my friends but, I may have been a little captivated by the crisp white that is calling me to come sit at the table}.  See how fresh and bright and clean and simple that white is off in the distance?  I also started a white walls pinboard at Pinterest.  Then I started noticing that the majority of the rooms I pinned were white walled–even on my pinboard called Color–many of the walls were white.  I decided to listen to what my pinning was telling me.

cozy minimalist

This house came with pinky white walls.  About two years ago I painted the breakfast area a true white: Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in Eggshell which I unabashedly copied from Trina from A Country Farmhouse.  The best part about this color?  I painted the little bit of trim this builder grade house offered the same color.  So I didn’t have to be careful with the transition from wall to baseboard which ranked up there with getting a shopping spree at Home Goods.  Over the past few years it has been so easy to do a few touch ups and freshen up the trim with the paint I already had. I first used the eggshell finish in the kitchen and breakfast area and assumed it would be weird in the family room but, it really doesn’t have much of a sheen at all and the fact that I could paint the trim with the exact paint convinced me to use the eggshell finish in the family room as well.

One of my favorite parts {and the scariest part} about going white is that your stuff has a lot of room to speak.   Which means if you hate your art and furniture, there’s a good chance you’ll hate it more when it’s surrounded by white.  I learned that from apartment living.  White is like a big arrow that points to everything in the room it’s all “Look over here, now here, see this thing?”.  That can either work for or against you.  Me?  I was ready to actually be able to see my stuff for awhile.  And last year was such a …I hate to say it…it’s my least favorite word…BUSY… year that white somehow helps balance out the craziness that can be life.  Sometimes I’m in a stage where I need cozy, moody, depthy, embracing walls, sometimes I need bright, slow, hushed white.  White walls are the ultimate quieting of the house.

So, the walls look a different color in every photo–that’s just like in real life, every wall looks a little different depending on the natural light it gets.

I took my time with this room.  I did one wall per day over the course of a week or so.  I started with this wall to see if I would even like it.  After each wall I waited to make sure I still liked the color.

My boys helped.  I didn’t ask my husband, I know he doesn’t get the same enjoyment out of the finished painted product as I do so I try to save up my asking him to help me for things that I really cannot do by myself.    I also didn’t really ask his permission. In our family we kind of have an understanding and after 17 years he trusts me with paint colors and I trust him with when to buy tires and change the oil and charging my phone.   He thinks nothing of being surprised with a new paint color.  Actually, for the first time today I asked him if he liked it.  He said yes.  That’s about as involved as he gets with paint colors.  And for that I  am forever grateful.

After the first coat I moved the tv/dresser and stuff back just to see how it was coming along.  It was scary, what if I hated it?  Oh, wait, if I hated it I could just paint it back.  This wall took a total of an hour or so to paint two coats.  Painting is fast.  And cheap.  and contrary to what we tell ourselves, it’s low risk.

The best part about going white?  You can add in just about any pop of color and then change your mind the next day and pick a different color.  In many ways, white is super low commitment.    You know I love me some honeysuckle and copper.  And white doesn’t dictate any undertone like my green Favorite Tan

One problem area with white can be that is doesn’t show off lots of millwork when painted the same color.  Lucky for me we don’t have that so for transitional house styles like mine it’s a great fit.  We do have a fireplace so I painted that two shades lighter than Favorite Tan–Rice Grain.  I’m not crazy about putting a white mirror on a white wall so that’s an issue I’ll deal with over the next few months.  I’m in no hurry.   And I had to un-attach our cable wire and paint it to match–I’ll hot glue it back this week. It’s lasted a year so far and the hot glue peeled off like a dream without damaging the old paint job.

Remember my gallery wall?  I confessed on instagram how many nail holes I filled on this wall.  83.  EIGHTY-THREE NAIL HOLES.  83 Nail holes on one wall and no one came and arrested me and it took me 6 minutes to fill the holes and about 3 minutes to sand them after the filler stuff dried and I left the ones that I was currently using for the wall so I could rehang everything and I totally get that if you have plaster walls you cannot do this but I have drywall so I have no excuses to be afraid of a eensy weesnsy wittle tiny itsy bitsy nailhole or 83 and I have zero regret for making so many holes to visually see my gallery wall even though yes, I know Young House Love is brilliant and makes a template for their walls because they are smarter than I am patient and pin holes don’t bother me.  I cannot stress enough how EASY it is to repair, wait, I refuse to even use the word repair because that sounds like something is broken–it’s so EASY to fill a nail hole.  A nail hole doesn’t represent something broken that needs to be repaired, it represents opportunity and just about the lowest entry level risk taking possible in life besides getting no whip on your coffee or something.

Please, for the love of all that is lovely don’t be afraid to make a nail hole.  Whether you are a templater or not, just make the hole, hang the art, I beg of you. I beg of you.

Forgive me, I got a little carried away….

I admit, I’m a sucker for change, if I painted my walls purple, I’d probably like it for at least a few hours just because it’s different.  So far it has been a week or two and I’m still happy with white as is my husband.  He’s pretty easy to please, when I’m happy he’s happy.  Or so he says and so far it seems to be true.

My favorite thing about white walls is the feeling of the room.  You know how when you get that first snowfall of the season, you walk out onto your porch and you notice a few things–it’s bright,wow, you can see things better and I also ALWAYS notice how quiet it is.  White seems to quiet things down a bit and I’m thrilled to report that it had the same effect in our family room.  It’s like a bright, clean hush has fallen over the space and that’s something I didn’t expect but am now addicted to.

On the downside, I can really see how dingy my white slipcover looks in the new brighter room.  So I guess I’ll be washing my slipcovers a little more often than every 6 weeks or so.

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  1. I have always been against white walls. But I like yours, a lot. I feel like you were speaking right to me while you were on your “nail in the wall” soap box. Have I told you about my problems with nail holes? I’m a pansy when it comes to putting a hole in the wall. So thanks for the “hole in the wall” alter call. I’ve heard ya, I’m hanging things today!

    But I did paint the first few walls in our place…progress.

    • Reeve, I’m breaking into your house one night and going to make tens of tiny nail holes. you know, just to get you started. You may need nail hole therapy. Counseling? Nail-holeless intervention?

      • I thought of a name for your activist group, PAWW {people against white walls} plus it speaks to your love of dogs! PS, if anyone doesn’t know, Reeve is one of my friends in one of those photos up there

  2. LOVE the white! i have been craving some white as well but haven’t implemented that craving yet. Afraid to tell the hubby :) I also just hang the pictures without templates. Seems to flow more freely that way!! The good thing about white is you can just fill with a little spackle and leave it!!

  3. It’s beautiful and serene. I love it. White is winning me over as well. As I get older I crave quietness and stillness in my space and in my brain. Paint just may be the best, cheapest therapist. : )

  4. Looks great, I love white walls. The room looks so much nicer and the curtains also look better against the white walls. It looks like it could be in a magazine.

  5. Barbara@thetreasuredhome.com says:

    Wow! What a nice change! Looks so fresh and crisp! Well done!

  6. Barbara@thetreasuredhome.com says:

    By the way, what is the piece to the left of the fireplace…round hanging on the wall? Love the texture!

  7. I like the white. I too rented for a long time. I am enjoying painting everything a big, bold color. You have reminded me that white isn’t so bad after all ;).

  8. i cannot say enough about how much i love this change….i have been toying with the idea for a loooong time now, b/c i am always drawn to white walls (life in the fun lane, the lettered cottage, etc) but now i am SOLD.

    heading to benjamin moore TODAY.

    love it. thank you!

  9. It’s beautiful. And bright. I love it! I have been considering painting 2 of our bedrooms in white (my daughter’s and our master) for the same reason. I have noticed that many of my favorite rooms on Pinterest, in magazines, etc. have white walls. It allows for a clean slate and lots of color in accessories. Since I change my mind A LOT, it would be nice to have the flexibility that white provides :) I’m in a rental too… you inspire me to try new things all the time. I recently painted over some dark mocha-ish colored walls in our main living area to a very light (almost white) gray. It changes the feeling of the entire space! I’m starting to feel like this is our home :) Thanks helping me to see that I can be happy where I am now, and make my home beautiful.

  10. I like the clean look of it. I mentioned painting my daughter’s room white a couple weeks ago and hubby just stared at me funny like “really?” Maybe I’ll get the guts to try a room one day.

  11. Your new white room is so dreamy, and it makes the graphic stripes on your curtains look even more bold. We live in a rental right now, and even though I love color I can’t find a good enough reason to change my white walls. You’re right, white just has a way of making a room feel like you’re in a cloud– fresh and airy, quiet and serene. Enjoy your space and thanks for sharing your process!

  12. I Loved your little rant about the nail holes and I couldn’t agree more! The white looks so fresh and crisp….I love it!

  13. I’m loving your white…even though I’m a bit of a color freak, myself (do you remember my crazy aqua and fuchsia master closet makeover? Probably not, but I think it supports my color freak claim).

    I definitely appreciate white in *others’* houses. : )

    Also, all of a sudden your striped curtains are REALLY popping out to me, and I’m having an urge to yank my (white) curtains off the living room wall and DIY me some mushroom-colored stripes.

    Hmm…that might get in the way of the: 1) homeschooling, 2) dishes, 3) meal-prep, 4) Goodwill run, 5) Exercising, and 6) blog-post writing that I’m supposed to do, though, so I suppose it’ll have to wait.


    P.S. I was feeling fine about my day until I read that list and realized that it’s already 10:18, and I’m commenting on the nester’s blog posts.


  14. I love how the white really did quiet the space and helped it feel bright and open too. It looks beautiful :)

  15. I absolutely love it!! We did a little remodeling a couple of years ago and I wanted to paint my kitchen and dining room white but my husband totally didn’t get the “white” thing so I caved and we had them painted other colors. For over two years I still craved white walls in those rooms so didn’t ask permission and repainted them. My husband didn’t say a thing and I LOVE them now!!!

  16. I have white walls and I have always been wondering if white furniture goes with white walls. It does, at least In your home it does.

  17. LOL @ I have no excuses to be afraid of a eensy weesnsy wittle tiny itsy bitsy nailhole or 83 and I have zero regret for making so many holes to visually see my gallery wall even though yes, I know Young House Love is brilliant and makes a template for their walls because they are smarter than I am patient and pin holes don’t bother me.

    I too have probably 183 nail holes in my wall. I have spackle and white paint and I too will just keep hammering. It’s a nightmare behind my photos but nobody knows… lol :)

  18. It looks great but I would miss the warmth that the other color brought. I really liked your Tobacco Road and Favorite Tan the best:) But I am drawn to warm colors.

  19. I like it and thank you, thank you for having some color in there. I see some rooms on pinterest that look like everything has been sprinkled with powdered sugar…thickly. Yours looks very good :)

  20. I would love to paint my walls white. I’m afraid that it would only draw more attention to the orange-stained oak trim and woodwork. While we have permission to paint the walls, I’m fairly certain the rest is not an option. I would love to see pictures of white walls with builder grade stained trim that look fabulous. Anybody out there that’s pulled this off? :)

  21. I lived in our house for more than 20 years with white walls. Finally a couple of years ago I got ‘brave’ and put color on the walls. Now, I think it would look nice to go back to white. I think if we have another blazing hot summer like we did last year that cool white walls will be a wonderful thing. Got to take sweet to my hubby and get him in the same mind set….I need help to paint.

  22. I’ve got 116 nail holes in the foyer and we moved into this house in July. Two of those would be from previous owner. I had to go count to see if I had 80-something but in fact I had more. Oops. Darn that gallery wall – I tweaked it to death for 2 months but oh well. I have spackled about half of them and it took no time at all. :) Love the white – considering it in our new kitchen but just not sure…yours looks great!

  23. My living room/dining area are a clean, bright white, and after almost four years, I still love it!

  24. Gorgeous! Wow! Your home is a picture of serenity.

    However, I’ve got to ask: how do YOU keep white things clean with three boys and a dog? Total white is not a possibility for me with a black dog, two black cats, and boys who bang around their backpacks & sports gear. Just keeping up with the dust and scuffs on the base boards in our house can be a lot of work. What’s your secret?!

  25. I Love the white walls. It looks cleaner and calmer. :) Great job!!!!

  26. I love it! White walls are beautiful. Your home has always been a favorite of mine…still is!


  27. My husband painted our family room walls around Thanksgiving and they look so smooth and clean that I can’t bring myself to hang anything on the walls. Maybe it’s time to pull out the hammer and get busy. Thanks for “permission” to pound those nails.
    I love the blue painting that can be seen in many of your photos. I thought you painted yourself, but I have been searching your blog with a fine tooth comb and can’t seem to find any posts about it. Did I dream you did a DIY painting?

  28. I think of you whenever I want to hang a picture. I truly have a fear of putting a hole in the wall. My Dad taught me that. He was always very careful to put nail holes in the wall. So now I don’t have as much on the walls as I would like. I am trying to break the cycle! Please keep encouraging me.

  29. Recently discovered the magic of allowing myself to paint one wall at a time. Not as quick as you–started before Christmas and still not done–but it was so freeing to realize we only have to do one wall and then we can stop. And to do one wall before deciding to go further. Really like your white. I’ve always been a fan of color, too, but have gone with a very pale neutral in our space. Finding it helps the colorful stuff I love to really stand out.

  30. I love the curtains and understand they are no longer being made. :(
    Can you measure the stripe and tell me how wide it is? thanks in advance!

  31. Oh, my gosh, I love it! It really make the room feel more relaxing, and I’m not even in it!

  32. just wanted to say thanks for pointing out twice lately that your hubby doesn’t absolutely love to paint walls or move furniture or think about fabric choices with you. sometime i read blogs and get disapointed that mine doesn’t really love it and then i think – nevermind, one of the reasons i love him is because he’s all manly and stuff so why would i want him to worry with fabric choices?? thanks :)

  33. Oh hallelujah! I have been contemplating painting my rental white (it’s currently a buttery creme—bleck!) throughout! I do the same thing on Pinterest! I keep pinning white walls and it dawned on me in about the same way. So, that’s it, I’m doin’ it!

  34. It’s so true that white walls make everything in the room speak MUCH louder! I rent, so I feel like I have to be careful with what I pick out in terms of home decor and furniture. I love what you did with your living space though… white on white looks amazing!

  35. Oh my gosh, I got excited at the title of this post.

    I just painted a room white and it felt scary and awesome and cool all at the same time. It’s so much fun! I feel so brave picking such an easy color. Wonder why that is? My husband was involved in the choice as well-well, really he just said that picking white was ok to do. Not “ok to do with him” but “ok to do even if I’m not decorating a doctor’s office.”

    We love it, my family loves is, and my friends love it. White walls, who would ever think???

    Awesome post, can’t wait to see what the white walls inspire you to do (and in turn, inspire me to do) Woop-woop!

  36. When I don’t have little ones running around with dirty hands, I will definitely do this!

  37. I love it. It looks so darn fresh! Way to quiet those fears and go for it, I love that.

  38. I have been thinking the same. We have been trying to sell our home for awhile and I am assuming when we move into a rental it will be white and I am actually looking forward to it.!

  39. I actually like the white more than the tan. I keep going back and forth between the pictures trying to figure out why and finally concluded that it just plain looks good. Well worth it!


    Did you paint your ceilings too, or were they white already? We have that peachy beige builder’s color throughout so I’d HAVE to paint ceilings if I went with white or a cool color… I think. I think that peachy beige would clash terribly with a cool color and just look ridiculous with white.

    Also, are your walls textured? In the area we live, every not-custom or not-historical home comes with textured walls and ceilings. Not quite the orange peel, not anything mid-century or crazy obvious, just the “knock down” texture. I feel like the texture would detract from the simplicity of what should be a smooth white wall. Yes? No?

    I dream of a craftsman style home, with smooth walls, and big flat baseboards. It’s a silly dream, because we’ll likely never spend that on a house and houses aren’t built like that in this area of Texas.

    What are your thoughts on ceilings, wall texture, and my neurotic thoughts on them? :-)

    • our ceilings are still pinkish–and it’s simply not that noticable because of the natural shadows that come with how lighting hits a ceiling. Even when the ceilings and walls are the exact same colors, they can look like different colors in different types of light so I decided to go with it and it’s a little different but not enough to bother me at all.

      our walls are smooth, just a little texture added from the nap knap? of the brush roller paint thing

  41. I have visited your blog for a few years. I love it. Thank you for your great ideas.
    I am surprised, because I loved the tan, that I do like the white walls.
    I have always admired your chalkboard with the word “Dwell” on it. Is there a post that tells about “Dwell?”

    EVERYTHING stands out and it looks fabulous.

    I think this might be the best thing you’ve done in your home…dramatic, I know, but seriously, it looks awesome!

    I think I’m gonna blow up pinterest with all your new pictures.

    Oh! I’m with YOU on the nail holes….we have hundreds and I wouldn’t have it any other way…

  43. Love the white, but I’m a sucker for it. My family would probably kick and scream if I said I was going white on the walls- they’re about color. However, they haven’t seemed to notice all the white accessories I have bought lately and just how white some of the rooms are starting to look. I love the freshness. Someday I will have my white room and I’ll love it :)

  44. Nester – I love you more than my luggage (name that movie?) but I just can’t get on board with the white. Loved the tan. But the fact that you’re always changing it up keeps me coming back!

  45. Love the white walls! (Your green chair looks good against it!) There is something about white walls that makes me want to nail board and batten paneling all over them! Do you know what I mean? The walls where there are two inch strips of wood vertically from floor to ceiling every twelve inches or so? Yes. That. I crave that look!

  46. Love the white! We just moved into a brand new home and the walls are more of a yellowy beige, I hated it at first, but haven’t done any painting yet.
    An idea for your mirror to pop off the white walls, what if you painted it a shade of the tan color in your curtains and then sanded it here and there? I would help bring the color in and not look too busy like aqua.
    Love your blog and your room!! The Sailfish is my fav!!

  47. I painted our living room white before Christmas. It was the strangest feeling. I didn’t like it until I got the curtains up and the furniture back in place. Now I love it. It’s the first room I’ve painted white in the last 15 years. Still can’t believe I did it!

  48. It looks amazing! I thought it looked good before but I think I like this even better! I painted our living room and den white this summer and had a slight panic attack at first. It was WHITE! But after I got everything back in place, I loved it. I am now wanting to paint everything white. It is so fresh and clean and your right about everything popping. Good decision!

  49. Oh white! You, Ms. Nester, are a trendsetter. Hundreds of people are now going to paint their walls white because of you ;-) I’ve been thinking of neutralising my aqua kitchen walls…either with the grey/tan living room colour, or white. But after reading your post, maybe not white. I hate my cabinets. My husband won’t let me paint them white…in a white kitchen they’d probably look even more fake and peachy.

    Your white walls look so fresh! I like the colour you painted the mantle for the contrast.

  50. YES! I love it!

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