Simple White Walls

I have gone through many color phases in my clothing choices.  In the late 80’s, I had my colors done.  After determining that I was an “autumn,” all of my clothes became shades of cocoa brown and deep rust and goldenrod and forest green.

This was followed by the  jewel-tone phase in the 90s when my closet was filled with some variation of bright fuchsia, teal blue, emerald green and royal purple.

Then came the black, white and taupe phase, in which I wore three simple colors (or non-colors) accented with gold and silver jewelry. I am actually coming back to this phase and find it very compatible with simplification of my life and my wardrobe.  (A post about this will follow).

Meanwhile, I have had a love affair with color in our home, too.  There was the hot magenta wall at the end of the living room of our last home.  Accented by a deep coral-hued fireplace complete with eggplant mantle. I am not kidding(!)

This photo depicts a very close representation of the magenta wall color:

magenta wall
Magenta Wall and Pink Tulips (click to enlarge)

Our current home has pale, peach walls in the family/dining room. My office is light yellow (good for mental work) with white trim. And then there were the apple green walls in our entryway that I painted a few years ago in a burst of creative energy. As much as I loved the green hue when I painted them, suddenly, last week, I couldn’t stand them.  What was I thinking when I chose such a vivid color?

green wall
Before: Apple Green Wall with Test Paint
white walls
After: Refreshing White

So, Saturday morning we grabbed our paintbrushes and went to work. Gone with the green, to be replaced by pure, simple white. Several hours and 1-1/2 gallons of paint later, we had a freshly painted white hallway and white stairwell.

The transformation in the look and feel of the area is remarkable. When I look at the simple white walls, I feel a much greater sense of peace and tranquility. We are considering leaving the walls entirely free of artwork, at least for a while.

Your turn: I’d love to hear about your painting successes (or disasters!) Please share your comment below.

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18 Responses to Simple White Walls

  1. white is a wonderful thing to play with, as there are so many “shades” of white. one kind will be more restful than another, depending on the quality of light, texture of the walls, use of the space, etc. i’ve had warm white walls with bright white ceiling and trim, which was my favorite–soothing, but not boring, allowing the room’s structural elements to anchor the space and keep it from looking like a lab. warmer whites also look so serene with bare wood floors, cooler whites suit slate and polished concrete (generally). in my current small living room there is no trimwork apart from small baseboards. the wood floors are ca 1920 and soulful, the walls warm white. & a couple of simple mirrors expand the airiness and the light from the windows. the entire little house is painted in the same warm white. nothing jars from room to room. this is in complete contrast to my previous rambling house, where a vivid palette ruled from room to room and bright artwork dominated everywhere. it was fun and stimulating, but life has taken a different direction and serene and minimal now works much better.

  2. white is a wonderful thing to play with, as there are so many “shades” of white. one kind will be more restful than another, depending on the quality of light, texture of the walls, use of the space, etc. i’ve had warm white walls with bright white ceiling and trim, which was my favorite–soothing, but not boring, allowing the room’s structural elements to anchor the space and keep it from looking like a lab. warmer whites also look so serene with bare wood floors, cooler whites suit slate and polished concrete (generally). in my current small living room there is no trimwork apart from small baseboards. the wood floors are ca 1920 and soulful, the walls warm white. & a couple of simple mirrors expand the airiness and the light from the windows. the entire little house is painted in the same warm white. nothing jars from room to room. this is in complete contrast to my previous rambling house, where a vivid palette ruled from room to room and bright artwork dominated everywhere. it was fun and stimulating, but life has taken a different direction and serene and minimal now works much better.

  3. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Hi Mara,

    I love your description of different shades of white and the feelings they bring up. So true! And, yes, the thoughtful placement of mirrors really opens a room up.

    BTW, if you’d like to share, I’d love to know the name of the warm white paint you currently have on your walls. I’m always open to new shades of white!

  4. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Hi Mara,

    I love your description of different shades of white and the feelings they bring up. So true! And, yes, the thoughtful placement of mirrors really opens a room up.

    BTW, if you’d like to share, I’d love to know the name of the warm white paint you currently have on your walls. I’m always open to new shades of white!

  5. Avatar Chandra Strowmatt
    Chandra Strowmatt says:

    I’d be curious to know what the name is of the warm white also.

    I have the majority of my walls painted a grey clayish color, but am going to be repainting them this year to more of a light plaster (tan-ish). I find earth colors more soothing and they tend to go nicely with wood tones of my floors and furniture. We have white trim, too, which seems to help things pop.

    We do have our bedroom a warm (and very dark) grey-ish chocolate color to help keep the room dark because my husband is on swing shifts. In our first house, though, we had the bedroom a cherry asian red type of color. NEVER AGAIN! I don’t know what I was thinking, but that was FAR from relaxing.

  6. Avatar Chandra Strowmatt
    Chandra Strowmatt says:

    I’d be curious to know what the name is of the warm white also.

    I have the majority of my walls painted a grey clayish color, but am going to be repainting them this year to more of a light plaster (tan-ish). I find earth colors more soothing and they tend to go nicely with wood tones of my floors and furniture. We have white trim, too, which seems to help things pop.

    We do have our bedroom a warm (and very dark) grey-ish chocolate color to help keep the room dark because my husband is on swing shifts. In our first house, though, we had the bedroom a cherry asian red type of color. NEVER AGAIN! I don’t know what I was thinking, but that was FAR from relaxing.

  7. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Chandra, your wall colors sound very calming.

    Yes, I can appreciate that red was perhaps too energizing for a bedroom. It is often used in dining rooms to stimulate the appetite. (In fact, many fast food restaurants have used this principle to their advantage).

    But I’m sure the cherry asian red was a beautiful color 🙂

  8. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Chandra, your wall colors sound very calming.

    Yes, I can appreciate that red was perhaps too energizing for a bedroom. It is often used in dining rooms to stimulate the appetite. (In fact, many fast food restaurants have used this principle to their advantage).

    But I’m sure the cherry asian red was a beautiful color 🙂

  9. When we lived in So Cal, the sunlight was different than it is here in Eastern Washington. Moving here, I realized I needed a certain vibrancy to my life and that I decorated to achieve that. In California, I had carpet that was a color and so all my walls were white (except the kids’ rooms and our room). Crisp, clean (swiss coffee at Lowe’s, if you’re interested) and not overwhelming. Here, my house still has the oh-so-common construction grade cement/off-white that seems, well, bland. So, my walls have color…all except the kitchen and the eating area outside the kitchen because they have wood floor. So, again, with the color of the floors, I opted for white walls. I long for my old carpet, but I have wondered if I’ll then need to repaint my entire house white, so I’m not overwhelmed. Glad I’m not the only one.

  10. When we lived in So Cal, the sunlight was different than it is here in Eastern Washington. Moving here, I realized I needed a certain vibrancy to my life and that I decorated to achieve that. In California, I had carpet that was a color and so all my walls were white (except the kids’ rooms and our room). Crisp, clean (swiss coffee at Lowe’s, if you’re interested) and not overwhelming. Here, my house still has the oh-so-common construction grade cement/off-white that seems, well, bland. So, my walls have color…all except the kitchen and the eating area outside the kitchen because they have wood floor. So, again, with the color of the floors, I opted for white walls. I long for my old carpet, but I have wondered if I’ll then need to repaint my entire house white, so I’m not overwhelmed. Glad I’m not the only one.

  11. the paint is lucite satin, and the color is the palest of the warm whites, called “delicate white.”

  12. the paint is lucite satin, and the color is the palest of the warm whites, called “delicate white.”

  13. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Erin, you make a very good point about the quality of sunlight varying with different regions of the country and how this affects our need for different colors. It sounds like you have a natural sense of balancing the colors in context with the whole.

    And thank you for sharing the name of the white paint you used. I am starting a reference file of paint colors, with the largest section devoted to white paints! Who knew?!?

  14. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Erin, you make a very good point about the quality of sunlight varying with different regions of the country and how this affects our need for different colors. It sounds like you have a natural sense of balancing the colors in context with the whole.

    And thank you for sharing the name of the white paint you used. I am starting a reference file of paint colors, with the largest section devoted to white paints! Who knew?!?

  15. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Mara, thank you for sharing your paint color with us. It has generated a great deal of interest!

  16. Avatar christianna
    christianna says:

    Mara, thank you for sharing your paint color with us. It has generated a great deal of interest!

  17. Very beautiful! Good design. I love it.