Can you paint your walls white even though you have earthy finishes? Maybe… keep reading for 3 ways to make white walls work with brown.
Last week you saw the before and after photos of this black contemporary exterior makeover! This week I am taking you inside to show you a few bathrooms we also helped my eDesign client with.
Real estate photos
Art Gallery White is the New Real Estate Beige
(well, you know what I mean)
Art gallery white walls are here to stay. And it looks newer and fresher than all the painted walls we’ve been doing for 30-40 years so it’s the new ‘real estate colour’ to sell a house.
Just to be clear. I’m saying art gallery white is anything in the realm of a true white or off-white. If you paint your walls Benjamin Moore Cloud White or Sherwin-Williams Snowbound (for example), trust me, they will look pretty darn white.
Not to be confused with that you SHOULD do that or that off-white is the right colour. For more on which white is right for your house, download my White is Complicated, A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White eBook here.
And, not every house can be painted stark white. You’ll notice this is a contemporary home AND the white has been repeated in the decorating. Advice I have given many times on this blog already.
Read More About White: 5 Reasons Why you Cannot Paint Your House Art Gallery White
But first, let’s take a look at this paint colour eDesign consultation.
Paint Colour eDesign Consultation
My eDesign client Tamara wanted to update the bathrooms. The oval sink and shiny granite with a kick backsplash were looking dated and the tile in the shower was looking tired.
But she planned to keep the unique flagstone floor that runs throughout much of this area of the house. So the challenge was to create a current, modern and fresh bathroom while working with the earthy stone.
Here is the colour plan we sent her (below), which included Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray and Decorators White.
And because her house is modern in style, I recommended these fun sconces below.
A cantilevered vanity with clean lines is ideal for a more contemporary style bathroom. And wall mounted faucets are perfect for creating a high end modern look.
So here is the beautiful after photo below!
The warm quartz relates perfectly to the floor and balances all the crisp white. I love how she opted for such a wide profile for the vanity top. The shower floor tile is white like the rest with green gray grout, which is just enough to tie it visually to the stone floor.
I’ve always suggested as a guideline that brown and earth tones belong with cream and grays, blacks and fresh colour belong with white. But here is an instance where true white works beautifully with earth tones.
First, the style is modern, white and organic materials like wood and brick are often contrasted and combined in this style of architecture. So the context is right.
Combining white with earth tones doesn’t work if it’s forced or done haphazardly.
The earthy stone here (above) was carefully repeated with the granite and the warmer grout for the hex tile, while the bright white is repeated in the fixtures, tile and vanity. So there is balance. And that is what makes it look intentional.
I’m very impressed with the way she repeated the warm tones of the countertop in the artwork in this bathroom. Her instinct was perfect here.
Such a pretty view of the beautiful surroundings from this bright and sunny classic and timeless shower.
Here is another room in her house (below) where earthy stone walls, wood ceiling and terracotta tile are intended to connect this interior space to the gorgeous landscape outside.
The white surrounding the doors might have looked out of place, except that it has been repeated simply in the bentwood chairs. And it also helps that it makes sense the in context of the rest of her house, which successfully combines crisp white with earthy finishes.
I am so excited to share this with you because Tamara’s house is the perfect example of how to combine art gallery white with earthier finishes. But she’s way ahead here with the thoughtful architecture of this house.
3 Ways to Make White Walls (even art gallery white) Work with Your Earthy Finishes:
1. This house is modern, therefore the white already looks right
Combining white and earth tones in the average transitional house is still a bigger challenge. Often it’s just not a good idea. There is a simplicity of architectural vocabulary in the modernist style that lends itself well to stark contrasts of colours and materials.
In a more transitional or traditional home, the flow generally needs to be softer.
2. Introduce White Furniture or Furnishings
If you decide you still want to paint your walls art gallery white, it’s important that you introduce lots of white furnishings. Add a white or off white slipcover to your beige or gray upholstery for example. Change out your earthy granite and tile floors. Sure, it takes a bit more effort so that you don’t end up with white walls looking just wrong.
Because, if you don’t introduce more white furnishings, it will look like you haven’t painted yet. Instead, think of white as a colour, repeat it everywhere so that it coordinates and makes sense. Remember, managing the high contrast that white provides does take some skill.
3. Repetition is the Magic Trick
Repeat the white as much as possible. And repeat the earth tones too.
Nate Berkus is a master of combining white with earth tones. One thing to notice in his work is that the pieces are always elegant and interesting in their own right. And that’s an important element in a successful neutral palette. Otherwise, it will just look boring.
The warm tones of the fireplace surround are repeated in the glam cognac velvet sofa, the gold mirror and inside the hutch. He successfully layers in a cool blue gray as well using repetition.
Nate Berkus Source
Since I think we will be seeing a lot more combining of earth tones and art gallery white, I hope this helps. It’s important to know what makes it successful, because it really is the exception to the rule.
Thank you Tamara for sharing your beautiful home with us!
Here’s the note Tamara sent after our consultation:
“I highly recommend Maria’s eDesign consultations! The process is painless, and Maria’s suggestions on paint and other finishes have been the perfect solution every single time.
I have a pretty good sense of color and design, but still have gained so much from her custom eDesign solutions. She has saved me thousands of dollars in costly mistakes and her solutions have helped me fall in love with my house!
Absolutely the best remodeling dollars I’ve ever spent!!”
If you’d like your home to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, check out our eDesign services here.
Terreeia and I are off to Paris this afternoon come with me and follow along on my Instastories.