in defence of white paint

all white paint

Dreams really can come true. I know this, because Tony has finished painting our whole house white, and it’s every bit as lovely as I’d planned.

White walls, white ceilings, white skirting boards and doors. Gone are the greens and the beiges and bakedbean-coloured 70s pine; the bees and the Winnie the Pooh murals and three-tone stars, and in their place, clean, pristine white.

I love white paint so much that a friend once wryly called me a white supremacist. (Is that funny, or just outrageously offensive? I can’t tell.)

My love affair with white paint started in my late teens, when I found an interiors article about a family in an ancient cottage somewhere in the English countryside. With a small budget, the woman, the mother, had bought stacks of cheap, mismatched secondhand furniture and painted everything plain white. The floors and walls were white too, and when she wanted to introduce colour or change things around, she added different coloured curtains & accessories on the cheap.

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It worked perfectly: everything fit, and their low ceilings and tiny leaded windows were balanced out by the extra lightness. I still have a picture from the article somewhere, though sadly containing no details as to the identity of the owner.  I’d dearly love to google her now.

In immediate response, I painted my dark blue childhood bedroom stark white, sanded my floorboards, and hung white voile curtains. & I never looked back.

white paint interiors

When I moved into R’s dubiously decorated red brick Victorian terrace, I repeated my recipe for success. By the time we came to sell it, to move here, it was so light and airy that it triggered a bidding war from buyers, and sold for significantly over its asking price.

Still, I’ve noticed some people have a weird judgemental urge when it comes to an all-white home. Paint a wall burgundy or paper a  ‘feature wall’ in purple brocade above your fireplace & nobody squeaks, but commit wholeheartedly to a Scandinavian style, and people feel inclined to openly opine at you. It’s weird, and unwelcome. If you’re one of those people, please stop it now.

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Anyway, in response to the naysayers, here is my defence. 

Ten reasons I love white paint

  1. It’s cheap. Brilliant White is available in every DIY store in giant vats at budget prices. Perfect for when you buy a three-story house full of random children’s character tableaux.
  2. It always matches. Two tins from two brands? No problem. White is white! The same cannot be said for red, or blue, or even off-white shades. Even different batches of the same shade can vary.
  3. It reflects light. It’s no coincidence  that white interiors are the norm in so many Scandinavian countries – the long dark winter months mean people want to maximise the light that comes into their homes. White reflects the full spectrum of light right back at you. More light = increased feel-good hormones and better instagram photos. Win win.
  4. It’s bleachable. Anyone that says white paint isn’t practical for families has clearly never used Cillit Bang to remove red wine, crayon and coffee stains from ordinary white emulsioned wall. I’d be very nervous about trying that on coloured paint. Also? Super easy to touch up – because #2.
  5. It’s calming. Colour definitely affects our mood – though science is still tossing up how much of this is innate, how much is learned. For me, white is the colour of calm: of pristine spa days, of imagined heavens and cloud naps, of uncluttered, unbusy space. I do my best thinking, sleeping and relaxing in a bright white space.
  6. It’s a blank canvas. Simple white decor shows off your favourite possessions and furniture perfectly, with a simple neutral backdrop. It’s the perfect surround to favourite prints, paintings and art.
  7. It goes with everything. Intensely colourful walls require extra effort to create a stylish interiors – white is always a no brainer, and I like lazy.
  8. It encourages minimalism. White paint might be where minimalism as a style choice and minimalism as a movement meet: when your decor is simple and clean, you suddenly see your clutter all the more clearly. Perhaps it’s all that extra light bouncing around?
  9. It’s very forgiving. All white everything means you don’t need to be all that careful when painting window frames against walls, or where your skirting board joins. While this is technically true of painting universally with any single colour, it’s usually difficult to commit to one colour so strongly without venturing into dodgy terrority, e.g. the purple house.
  10. It’s stylish. I defy anybody to look at my white interiors Pinterest board and say otherwise. White gets more stylish the more you commit to it, in fact! All white errrthang! WHITE WHITE WHITE!

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photo credits: Abbie Melle

Have I convinced you yet? Can you shed any light on the mysterious motivations of the anti-white-paint brigade?


All the lovely photos in this post were taken by Abbie Melle, who swapped a stay here for photos & lovely Aussie goodies. More on our Stay project here.