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 am totally about to copy you and paint my laundry room white. You had me at the part about no straight lines required for the trim!

  2. Love the white! Last year I got my husband to help me paint our main level yellow thinking it would lighten it up. It didn’t. Haven’t liked it from the day we were done. Now I need to convince my husband that white is the answer. After so many years of making him help with so many different colors we’ll see what happens. I think I have used the phrase “embrace color” probably several hundred times during our marriage. We’ll see what happens!

  3. WOW. You know what, it NEVER occurs to me to paint a room white. LOL! I am about to paint my LR, and I am trying to find the perfect coffee brown. Now you have me considering white!

    Your white rooms are BEAUTIFUL and peaceful.

  4. Am I the only one that liked the tan walls better? The pieces on your wall just seemed to show up better with the tan background. But, hey, it’s not my house. :)

  5. Oh I love the outcome, looks so chic and fresh, all the room is full of light!

    Can I ask what is that huge wreath over the expedit that looks like a juju hat? Something you made? Looks great, I ‘d love to make something similar!

  6. Gonna copy your plan of using the same paint on the wall and the trim for my nursery – err, my baby’s nursery.
    And I am googling pink pouf right now.
    Loved the nail hole sermon!

  7. Truly a refreshing new room color. I did the same and agree that being imprecise with cutting in is wonderful! My only problem is that I picked a cool white which is making the living room feel crispy and chilly in the winter. I have thought about going back to a light mushroom tan, but after seeing this, I know my problem just lies in the wrong white for the room.

  8. your rooms are beautiful! where did you get those striped curtains im in LOVE with them and have to have them :O)

  9. We recently painted our living room white after I realized I was pinning all white living rooms on Pinterest. We chose Benjamin Moore White Dove (Dove White?) above the chair rail and Benjamin Moore Super White on the painted paneling and I just love it. The only thing we are really struggling with are what to put on the walls. You are so right about the walls having lots of “room to speak” — so now I’m back to looking for “stuff” on walls that I like in the white rooms on Pinterest. It’s going to be a creative process because of budget constraints.

  10. I love the way the white came out, it looks great.

  11. We painted our woodwork – windows, baseboards – everything – for our “Jimmy John’s Kitchen!” And, I love it. We used a chocolate brown – and it made the 50 year old wood look like new windows. It’s warm and…heck, it looks like chocolate. Can’t be bad in a kitchen.

    P.S. I never. Ever. Thought I would paint my kitchen cream, bold tomato red and chocolate brown – with black accents. But, for the Jimmy John’s Kitchen, it’s perfect.

    P.P.S. Enjoy your WHITE walls!
    P.P.P.S. (Oh,and I love that your Pinterest boards helped you to identify your desire.)

  12. I painted my entire house white, except for my bedroom which I painted tan. I so wish I had painted my room white too. I love how everything pops against it and it looks bright and fresh and clean. It’s funny, I’ve had people stand in the middle of my all white house and tell me they don’t like white walls because it’s too cold. They don’t even realize every single wall of mine is white. I love color, but I love a clean backdrop for my color. Your house looks great! I love it. You did a nice job painting too. Congrats on a good, bold choice.

  13. White walls are a palette for color and interesting details. I treat it as a canvas. I too lived in rentals for years and when we finally got a house, I thought I’d paint. Instead, I waited for a year before changing anything and when it came to it, I only painted one interior, windowless powder room yellow (because of the nasty fluorescent light attached to the fan that I’ve yet to change). My neighbors all have wild colors on their walls, but with my dark floors, I didn’t want anything to compete and I wanted light in all the rooms after living in dark apartments for so long.

  14. Happy you like the white. However, I liked the tan better… Maybe after you “tweak” things a bit more i will like the look.

  15. Looks beautiful! We started with some beige walls as well. It’s amazing how bright the white makes a room.

  16. Where in the world can I find these curtains!? I’m OBSESSED :)

  17. I like the white, because your furniture, is unique and most of it pops. I have no “poppable” furniture at this time. Regardless of this fact, I’m not sure. It’s much like admiring a page in a magazine, but knowing you couldn’t really live with it. A Benjamin Moore color wheel is sitting on my kitchen table as we speak. I was leaning toward a warm tan, but now I’m going to reconsider going a shade or two lighter. A happy medium. I’m glad you’re loving your white and thank you for indadvertenly helping me. I’m going to look at that wheel for the umpteenth time with a different set of eyes.

  18. I’ve always loved your tan walls in your living room. But I puffy heart love the white transformation. I too, have a tan color throughout my living and dining room and have been contemplating white for some time. I am sold!! White just makes every piece of furniture and decor pop…I love that. Great job! And thanks so much for sharing the tip of doing the trim and the walls the same color. Best idea EVER!

  19. I like the white in your dining room, because your accent colors are soft. I don’t think I like it in the livingroom though. It’s a bit hard on my eyes… at least in photos. But I must admit that I am one of those people who likes a room my eyes can calmy flow through without a lot of interruption. I think this room would be easier on my plain old eyes if the blue accents were a soft blue rather than a vivid turquoise – maybe if the canvas was still light blue, and the light blue lamps were back. I do admire your bravery to try something new without hesitation. Change can be fun, and I’m sure your room feels very fresh to you right now, but I suspect you’ll soon e changing it again.

  20. I like the white but I LOVE the old look better. Everything pops so much more yet still looks clean and inviting with the tan. Still beautiful as always though. :)

  21. Oh my, I absolutely love the white. My house is in dire need of painting and I have been trying to decide what color I want to paint my entry and living-dining room combo. So many photos I pin, bookmark, ideabook and screen clip have had white walls. I keep thinking to myself, no, you always thought your white walls were boring! I just think my house needs lightening up and I think your wonderful white walls have convinced me. The change is so dramatic! Thanks for going white. I may just have to follow along too!

  22. I have to be honest. . . I’ve been staring at these pics ever since you posted them, trying to love the white. But I don’t. I hate it. I feel like all of your white-based wall decor is totally washed out now. I think if you went with a much lighter shade of the color you already had, you would have had a much better result. But that’s just my opinion. . . If you love it, that’s all that matters!

    • I agree with most of the other ladies, I don’t like the white at all. It feels unfinished, and for a designer like yourself kinda strange. If you and your family like it that’s all that matters.

  23. i was just wondering where you got that gorgeous green leather chair!? something like that would like perfect in my home. thanks!

  24. White is the new tan!!

    Ps. I love it.

  25. switch it back to tan. Looks MUCH better. Things just pop out rather than looking washed out.

  26. Just catching up on blog reading … I’m in to white right now. I love it.

  27. I think it’s fresh and calming as well. The new trend is white, and I think you can pull it off with all of your wonderful accessories!

  28. love love love the white been a total white addict now for more years than my friends care to count!! but i love it love being able to change a few things with the season (or holiday) and get a whole new look …. i get bored real easy love your blog love your walls and your right it can be quieter until u add the screamin red pillows!!!

  29. For the nay sayers- The tan looks rather old and dingy. I’ve noticed several designers using white, glad you did too. It looks great! Now I’m going to study my Pinterest board to see what it’s saying about me!

  30. Love the white. Edgy, stylish, current, unpredictable. Go against the grain. Keep it. Now that I’ve buttered you up (genuinely), where did you get your curtains?

  31. In my previous apartment, I had painted all of the walls a french gray (also didn’t ask my landlord) knowing that I’d have to return them to white after leaving. The walls were so gross and old when I moved in they needed to be painted anyway. I lived there for 3 years so it was totally worth the effort. A month before moving into my condo, I began to return the walls to white, one every evening, and was amazed -the white was so fresh, bright and made my ‘stuff’ look so great! Why hadn’t I changed the color earlier!!

  32. I love the white and your style, though I liked the tan as well. I too go through moments of needing to rearrange or change a room. Seeing your white walls and how lovely your space looks with them is inspiring for this apartment dweller who doesn’t want to put money and effort into painting my walls since I’ll have to change them back when my lease is up.

  33. I like the white, looks fresh, clean, and beachy.

  34. Oh and can i ask about the white sectional sofa — where you got it? It would be the perfect size for my apartment and it looks uber comfy. Thanks!

  35. I don’t like white walls, but that’s just me. I think the room would look great painted the rice grain col

  36. I also think your gallery wall makes the room feel unbalanced. That wall is so loaded up with stuff and the other walls are more minimalistic. It looks off.

  37. I love the white!!! Everything looks so bright, clean, and beachy! Please, please, please tell me where you got your couch…..I love it!!!

  38. Anonymous says

    I love the white! I have also noticed that almost every room I have pinned has white walls. I must say that I did like your walls in tan also. I really am loving your blog and your style! I have spent way too much time today reading and pinning it! :) I really love your attitude about decorating, too! I always just eyeball it when hanging things on the wall, like you. I’m way too impatient to plan and measure! And today I’m getting my first white slipcovered couch. I’m so exited! Your living room is really inspiring me!

  39. I love the white! I have also noticed that almost every room I have pinned has white walls. I must say that I did like your walls in tan also. I really am loving your blog and your style! I have spent way too much time today reading and pinning it! :) I really love your attitude about decorating, too! I always just eyeball it when hanging things on the wall, like you. I’m way too impatient to plan and measure! And today I’m getting my first white slipcovered couch. I’m so exited! Your living room is really inspiring me!

  40. You know, I’ve painted one room deep tan/latte-ish and one room what they termed “Royal White.” I like the feeling of walking into each room for different reasons. Both rooms give a different feel…so I say, if you like white, do the white. If you like tan, do the tan. As you’ve said, it’s not a huge commitment if you’re able to paint back over it if you change your mind again! :) P.S. I really enjoy this site…such wonderful ideas, and such honest and encouraging words! May God bless you and your family as you continue to walk with Him! :)

  41. Melinda says

    I am late to the conversation but I love your white. We did the same a couple years ago and it has made such a difference. It has moved it’s way into our bathroom (which is almost entirely white including shower curtain, cabinets, tile etc) and bedroom. We live in the rainy Pacific Northwest and I crave light. I agree with above post in that we have to do what it right for us. Some people have loved what we have done and others not so much. But we love it and it’s where we dwell and are happy : )

  42. I am also late to the conversation but I like white, it’s so peaceful. A few years ago, I bought a house with an open floor plan and white dining room, living room and hall and I like it. The kitchen is sort of part of it all and it has one buttery yellow wall. When I first bought it, everyone wanted to know (and me too) what colors were going up. I never could decide and I realized, finally, I liked it alot, just like it was. Honestly, I have never liked the one wall is a different color thing but it works here. The bedrooms and bathrooms have been changed several times, but the not the public spaces.

  43. I LOVE the white! i have been debating what colour to paint our family room for a loooong long time. Its a small space that doesn’t get a lot of natural light and currently has a huge dark blue feature wall. reading this just made me realise i have also pinned mostly white living rooms and seeing your photos has convinced me! I agree with the other comments that things ‘pop’ more against the tan wall but i guess its just personal taste. I personally think more of your furniture coordinates with the white whereas it was more contrasting with the tan. Both were beautiful but i prefer everything to flow rather than pop so love it :)

  44. Oh my, I’m loving the white! It looks so inviting and the color in the room really pops.

  45. Love, love, love that room! Love it!

  46. Hi! I was justing wondering if you make sure that all your whites match? I really want to go white – slip covers and painting my fake wooden garage saler’s furniture (and walls when we move in less than a year)…. do I need to make sure to have the same white paint for everything? Or do I want to make sure all the whites are different? I never thought something as simple as going white could be so daunting, but I just don’t want to have to worry about everything matching perfectly – Advice? Maybe I’m thinking too much about it :) Thanks! Love your website!

  47. I love the white walls! It flows effortlessly with all of your white furniture. If you had a pink couch, I’d probably say that pink walls would look great. I have a feeling that you’d like the space even more if you took at least half of the wall hangings down to reduce clutter and contrast, particularly the pieces dominated with black. Let that super green leather chair and the turquoise-blue side table next to it be the focal point without too much competition from the walls and other accessories. Also, maybe group more of the “like” colors together (the turquoises and blues). And don’t be reluctant to have a large empty white space on the walls (i.e., negative space). Just my opinion. :-)

  48. Yep, looking again, my heart is definitely drawn to your fabulous vignette of the green chair, the turquoise-blue ceramic(?) side table next to it, and the black/white ikat pillow. If that bold pillow is tied into the room with only small amounts of wispy black elsewhere, it will really pop! By the way, I am also loving the big taupe flower next to the said vignette, as well as the clear glass lamps and the little landscape painting. The white couch along a plainer white wall and some washed out accessories may be a good hushed area. Love it!

  49. I love the white walls and how the colors pop against it! I’m almost ready to do this on my first floor (open concept) and seeing that you, with two boys, did it makes me feel like i can do it too!

  50. I love this post Nester! My downstairs looks similar to yours in the way that the kitchen faces the family room. I like the way you have arranged your family room seating to face the kitchen so that your guests can interact with anyone in the kitchen. I am thinking of doing this as well. Right now my kitchen looks at the back of my couch and the all important television. It is not very warm and inviting. My husband likes it because when he is cooking, etc. But I’m thinking of making a change. Thanks for being such an inspiration!

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