Friday, July 12, 2013

The power of a neutral wall

Happy Friday to you all! I’m so sorry for the late post, the Internet is not cooperating today so I’m lucky to even get this one out! This is my third location trying to get wifi – that’s dedication right there. ;)

So many of you have noticed lately that my style, it is a-changin. While I still love the look of a dark, dramatic room (and still have plans for one or two in the house), overall my preference has moved to lighter spaces.

I do struggle with having enough color in a room with lighter walls – I NEED my color. But I’ve had one too many instances where I couldn’t find drapery fabric/bedding/accents that work in a space because the look of the room was so dictated by the color of the (darkish) walls.

I’m realizing that there is great power in a neutral wall. I told you how I couldn’t decide on light or dark for our bedroom, but I made a decision soon after:

Yep. Light won. :) It’s a really light gray color (I can’t remember the name so I’ll have to look and update.)

I went light mostly because I didn’t want the room to become too dark (it already is with the current color). We only have one east facing window in there and I knew it would become a cave if I went any darker on the walls. And it felt like it would be a dark and depressing cave, not a cozy and comfortable cave. :)

But working on the powder room redo really opened my eyes to the decorating possibilities with lighter paint on the walls. I’ve already had plans to lighten up the family room and kitchen, and these inspiration photos kind of sealed the deal for me.

Here’s the thing – I’ve fallen in love with white kitchens over the years too. I drool over them. I love how clean and bright they are, but so color is SO easy to add in:

blue island white cabinets

(source)

I painted my kitchen island a similar blue, and I love that you could totally change up the look of the space with just a new color on the island. (And painting an island is WAY easier a whole room.)

I loved this bright kitchen with the soft yellow island by Sarah Richardson:

sarah richardson yellow island white cabinets

(source)

That kitchen still feels so warm and comfortable to me, even with all the white.

And in a kitchen you can add a ton of color with a backsplash if you wish too:

white cabinets blue accents kitchen

(source)

Of course that’s not an easy change down the road, but you could also add color with the chairs and accessories like this photo.

I found this kitchen on Houzz a few days ago and instantly fell in love:

Maybe it’s because I was still feeling the Americana love from the 4th, but I just adore the use of blue and red in there. SO welcoming.

These walls aren’t really neutral, really, but they are light. It just goes to show all the different colors you can bring in:

kitchen banquet in yellow orange

(source)

I’d love a built in banquet like that by the way. Any time is fine.

You know I love a painted ceiling. With darker walls a painted ceiling will feel heavy and could make the space feel dark (I’ve done it and it does both) – but in a lighter room it’s just a beautiful, unexpected accent color:

blue ceiling white kitchen

OK, but seriously, make sure you love that ceiling color. It’s a pain in the patoot to redo. (Again, ask me how I know.)

With a lighter wall color the less expensive, easier decorative stuff (like pillows and accessories) can be changed out more often if you wish:

using color in a neutral room

(source)

Although I would totally paint the back of those built ins. ;)

Like I said, I have loved our darker bedroom for quite some time, but it’s been SO hard to decorate. The greenish/gray wall color made it difficult to even find accessories that I liked. And bedding? That took FOREVER.

This light gray/blue color is so pretty – there’s not a ton of color in this room but the dark blue pillows totally pop:

light blue walls big windows

I could see a big print on the drapes too – that would be amazing in that space. (Like that room needs my advice.)

In a more neutral room you can do a darker accent wall too – or a really fun wallpaper you wouldn’t normally use on in a whole space:

floral wallpaper laundry room

And this photo (which is one of my all time favorite spaces by the way), is a great example of how a lighter space doesn’t always mean stark and bland – the accessories, art and furniture add plenty of texture and color:

using color in a neutral room

(source)

All that gorgeous, thick molding sure doesn’t hurt either. 

I still don’t think I could do white walls though, do you? Do you have them and love them? I had plenty of white walls in apartments over the years so I don’t think I’ll ever go that far in the light direction.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve gone lighter as time goes on, and I think that will just continue. What do you think? Of course color on the walls doesn’t always mean it will be dark and hard to decorate – I’m just speaking from my experience. Years ago I used a lot of very deep, saturated colors in our house and it was such a struggle to make changes in those rooms. It can be done – it just takes a lot more talent and patience than I have most days. ;)

Are you leaning light these days? Or do you still love your color on the walls and not on your shelves?

30 comments:

  1. When we bought our house 7 years ago gold walls were all the rave. We still have 2 rooms that have the goldy-mustardy color and I just can't decide what color to use. I have really considered just going for a nice cream color in those rooms. We have dark furniture in them and I think a light wall will make everything pop. This post may have really pushed me in that direction!

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    1. We just went all neutral ourselves...I love how light and airy, not to mention up-to-date everything feels. Goodbye terracotta kitchen and mustard living room! :)

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  2. Years ago we had rooms painted in many different colors (jewel tones were all the rage back then). Now we have 3 neutral colors throughout the house, all off the same sample page, just varying hues. I love it. So easy to decorate around. I love that I can move things from one room to the next if I get bored and it fits right in. Not sure I could do white walls, a little to sterile. We do have white kitchen cabinets, our island however is chocolate and so are our countertops. I love the white contrasted with the darker chocolate color. The chocolate helps to anchor the room.

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  3. You can always accessorize the rooms with color instead of the other way around. I love dark walls but light furniture

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  4. I LOVE THIS POST! And I'm right there with ya! When we moved in, we painted the living room a dark red and I am so over it! The front bathroom, a darker color too, but we recently gutted it and now it has light gray walls and white subway tile with a medium gray wood plank looking tile. LOVE!!!! So much light where it used to be dark! And since it's neutral I can play with bright colored towels and accessories! I'm trying to pick new LIGHT colors for the rest of the house (it's sooo hard to choose!) and I'm very attracted to the same colors you are. And a white kitchen?!?! SWOON!!!

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  5. I have been living in apartments for the last 9 years (so, all white walls) and am getting ready to purchase our first home! I have constantly dreamed of paint colors and have noticed that my tastes have gotten 'lighter' over time as well. I am hoping to do a good mix of lights and darks- a light neutral gray for hallways and larger rooms in the house, with maybe a splash of a darker marine blue in the half bath. I love seeing the transformation of your home over time- it always looks wonderful!

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  6. I'm back to white and neutral walls... again!!! Your post is spot on! LOVE all the pretty images! If I had an interesting ceiling I certainly would paint it that beautiful blue!!!!

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  7. I am currently working on updating the master bedroom. I have a light creamy color on the walls but I've never loved it - too yellowy. The bedding I just bought has a white background so I'm debating on wall color. I just *can't* go all white - I won't love it. I think I'm going to go with a Behr color called "Wisp of Mauve". Warm but still neutral and not too dark.

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  8. I LOVE the white kitchens with pops of color too. I am afraid it's a trend and so I am dragging my feet to actually do it. I did neutrals on the walls until I decide. I painted my office a deep orange on one wall and a deep yet bright blue on the other wall. I have a half way up white wall wood work. The light and dark work well together and I love love love my room. I love the wood with white look. I LOVE red and blue, and I LOVE orange and blue. I won't paint a wall red, but the accents are fun. I did a wall of clocks in those colors and made a cool storage piece under it. Looks neat.

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  9. Does this mean you're thinking about painting your kitchen cabinets white? I LOVE a white kitchen too!!! And in your kitchen post that you linked to here, you mentioned that your kitchen would be staying that way for at least a year . . . well, time's up! ;) hahaha!! I love that you're going white just because I love the whites and lights. So clean and fresh and happy!! Can't wait to see the finished room!

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  10. I think I'm bipolar when it comes to paint colors. I have seen rooms on both sides of the spectrum that I absolutely adore and I have a mix of both kinds in my home. See? Told you. Bipolar. Or maybe it's ADD - I flit around to and from, all sorts of pretty sources of inspiration!

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  11. We are in the process of building a home and I opted for all white walls just so I can start with a clean slate. I want to add some molding in the main living areas as well, so hopefully that means I won't have to paint as much white since it will already be white. I don't mind painting and hopefully won't go too crazy with stark white everywhere! Who knows, maybe I will end up loving it for a while! Either way, I'm just so excited to have NEW walls to paint, that I don't think I'll mind painting the whole house to my heart's content!

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  12. I've done my fair share of white walls and now that I have paint colors that I love I will never go back! I love a neutral or lighter wall in any color! And the yellow island with the polka dot chairs! Love it!

    -Lauren
    Http://realhousewifeofnova.blogspot.com

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  13. So glad you chose light!! That was my vote :-). Can't wait to see the finished room. I feel like I am going through the same transformation, but with dark furniture. I think everything I bought for the last 10 years was espresso colored...yikes.

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  14. I have a mix of medium and light colors right now, but have also been thinking of going lighter next time I paint. That picture with the blue painted ceiling is beautiful - I happen to hate white ceilings! I actually have that exact color of blue (SW moody blue) on my dining room walls below the chair rail!!

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  15. I voted for light for your bedroom too, so I am thrilled that you are going that way....like you, in the past I loved using the darker, warm colors but I have totally gone light now. I LOVE white kitchens, my last two houses have had white kitchens and I will never go back, never...CLASSIC!! I did my living room, kitchen and dining room all in the same lovely light grey and I love that it helps the flow and doesn't look 'choppy'. I actually would do an all white house, but only if it had FANTASTIC molding everywhere...that is my dream for my dream cottage...every surface white, white, white, all color brought in with furniture and accessories, gah!! Very excited to see what you come up with next :-)

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  16. Oh, I was also in the terracotta, mustard and red wagon of colors! I've been changing all of that. I painted my kitchen cabinets white and most of the walls are now a light shade of grey and I'm loving how light it all looks! Beautiful inspiration pictures. Can't wait to see your bedroom!

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  17. I finally decided on a color for our master bedroom awhile back, and although warm and moody was my heart's desire, with one tiny, lame excuse-for-a-window that lets in very little sun, light won out. It's a linen color from Behr and I've gotta say...I'm disappointed. Yes, it's clean. Classic. Neutral. And oh so boring. My work is cut out for me, trying to bring in a little spice through fabric and accessories. A bedroom without spice is just a guest room, right? Sigh.

    Disclaimer: white cabinets in a kitchen will always be my favorite. But NEVER with a light wall. Mama needs her contrast ;)

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  18. I think I am the only person I know who loves my builder basic wall color. It happens to be a nearly perfect match to Annie Sloan old white without wax. (After clear wax I feel like old white gets a little more of a yellowish tinge)

    I do love light gray, leaning towards blue, and plan to do some accent areas with it. I also plan to paint doors.

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  19. Love white! There are so many "whites" that you can get one with a hint of color, cool or warm, and against a crisp white trim it stands out. Accent with dark, hard wood flooring and I'd say it's a timeless space. You can always change color and seasons within your textiles and furniture.

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  20. It's funny I should open this post & read the title just as I'm trying to choose a new color for our spare room. This was my son's room but now that he's getting married I think it's time to redo it for a space for me. It has four walls with four different primary colors. I'm looking forward to some neutral walls & creating a space to winter garden, craft & relax.

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  21. Love white kitchens. And they've been around forever--I don't really think they're that trendy, though they're definitely very popular at the moment. In our old place, I painted the old, old cupboards white, and the insides a light, but bright-ish blue. The cupboards were old so it was easy to paint them, it's not like they could get worse! In our new place, we gutted the old kitchen and put in a white one. LOVE IT. :) And check out the blog chezlarsson for a beautiful white house on a budget--wow!

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  22. So glad you are leaning towards light colors as I mentioned in a previous post. You won't be sorry. My whole house is neutral and I'm hear to tell you it's so bright and refreshing even in those long dark winter months. I live in La. and in a new neighborhood and the houses here are that light grey and khaki color. You won't be sorry Sarah. I love your new look!! And remember its only a can of paint .

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  23. I love the color white, I use it throughout my house to brighten it up. I love your blog its so inspiring. I recently started a little blog on crafting ideas and simple projects for my home. www.simplesoutherndecor.com

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  24. That last picture is one of my favorites, too! I don't think there is anything better than tons of white moulding with light walls and dark floors. Have you seen that new washer/dryer commercial with the amazing mouldings and wood floors? To.die.for. Anyway, I love the pics you posted. You're speaking my language, girl!

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  25. When we moved into our first home 5 years ago we quickly painted a few rooms a mustard color with a deep red accent wall. I can't stand accent wall, but hubs really does so we compromised. I can't stand it now. I want to paint every room a shade of neutral tan/brown and let accessories dictate the color. So much easier that way. And I love cozy chocolate walls.

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  26. I think I need at least ten houses to decorate because I love so many different styles. Although we are going with a slightly darker look on the majority of the wall in our new home it is still light and neutral enough to pop color in. I too, though, am loving the very light to white rooms.

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  27. I have been light and bright (really bright) for a while now and while I love it with kids and a husband and dogs it can really show the dirt easy. Right now our kitchen cabinets are white with butter yellow walls. The cabinets are easy to clean but are always dirty looking. Nope, I don't have handles on the doors or drawers. I will probably paint the bottom cabinets a blue - I'm looking at SW Moody Blue and a gray for the top cabinets - haven't decided on a color for that yet but it will be gray! I am leaning darker in my bedroom right now to make it cozy and snuggly. Let me know and keep us all updated on how you like the light colors!

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  28. OH PS - Sara Richardson is one of my favorite designers. I tape everything she does.

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  29. I always love reading your blog, but I really need to get better about commenting! That kitchen inspiration is TO DIE FOR!! I am in the middle of painting our cabinets white with chalk paint. Love it so far!! You are right- it really lightens the space!

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