Our house in its before form was something we affectionately called “Brown Town”. Brown was everywhere in this house. Everywhere. The walls, the fireplace, the cabinetry, the countertops, the trim, the doors, the light fixtures-even the ceiling in the main living area-were brown. Something had to be done or we were doomed to live in a chocolate grave for-ev-errr.
Where to start? The easy answer is with paint. Paint is relatively cheap, low-commitment from a time-investment standpoint and is therefore one of the easiest ways to make a huge impact in any space. The walls comprise such a large expanse of visual space that spending some dollars and a bit of time painting them will not be wasted. Our living room flashes us a whole lotta wall thanks to the vaulted ceiling. Check out those before images. Woof.
So what color did we choose? So glad you asked. There were endless options to cover ol’ brownie but we quickly landed on…white! Riveting, I know. But hear me out. There are several compelling reasons for this choice. The first is this: going from such a heavy, saturated hue to such an airy, clean palette makes the after-and the journey to get there-more exciting. I guess that was two reasons. Call me an overachiever. This level of transformation not only feels extremely rewarding after a long day of painting, but is also a huge motivator for future projects. Every time you contemplate a new painting project, that little voice will remind you, ‘Remember what a huge difference painting made in that last space?! You should really get on this one. It will be so worth the energy.’ What? You don’t self-motivate by having conversations with yourself? Weird. The second reason for choosing white is LIGHT, GLORIOUS LIGHT! The prospect of a (literal) brighter future after living in a cave really had us pumped. A brighter space truly has the ability to lift your mood. That’s powerful. These are things we Wisconsinites have to consider. Winter is (always) coming. The third is that I am passionate about art and what better way to display art in a way that allows the art itself to be the focal point than to have a light, bright and neutral backdrop? The walls in our previous house were gray and I can not tell you how many times we purchased or were gifted a piece of art and the frame, the matting or the art itself clashed with the undertones in the gray on our walls. That was my core frustration with that house…and having two bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs…and the lack of entryway…and the fact that the living room was a pass-through which made furniture arrangements difficult. But I digress. Point is, not everything needs to match-it really shouldn’t for that matter. But you don’t want your precious art to sport the wrong shirt for their skin tone right? The wrong paint color can do a piece of art a huge disservice. I mean, one look at me in the wrong yellow and you’d send me to the hospital with concerns about the health of my liver. The reason most gallery walls are white, after all, is to allow the art to be the focal point. The fourth and final reason we chose white is that we adore the historical mood white walls evoke. I love history. Love. It. That old-world vibe just really gets me. And Marco loves me so he’s down with it too. From white farmhouse exteriors to white, plaster walls of colonial interiors, these timeless, tried-and-true spaces are our jam. Are the kids still using “jam” these days? Case in point: this inspiring goodness. Notice how the liberal use of white in this space evokes at once modern vibes and classic design? Stunning.
It should be noted that I love a good beige/warm gray as well but I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to add lots of bold contrast throughout our home. Contrast is my favorite nonliving thing ever. Just ask Marco. Also love me some juxtaposition. Anyway, the best way to position your home to showcase the most contrast is by forming a foundation (walls) that is far on one end of the color spectrum (white)! We painted the walls in the majority of our main living spaces within a month of moving in, back in August 2016. When it came to picking the actual white, Benjamin Moore made it too easy, really. Ben’s (we spend a lot of time together, so I call him by his nickname now) 2016 color of the year was Simply White. I didn’t want anything too pink (so Ballet White was quickly ruled out), too yellow (nope to Navajo White), too blue (ixnay to rostineFay)-you get the idea. Priscilla Ghaznavi, color and design director for Benjamin Moore, describes Simply White best, “It was the most neutral and it was very constant in various light sources.” Ding ding! Winner, winner.
Simply White has green undertones but I won’t bore you now with why these work so well in our home. If you’ve read this far, you’ve suffered enough already. And I will say that all of the aforementioned colors would be amazing in the right environment and for the right person! In fact, my dream would be to design a house in every different white imaginable. I know-my parents think my goals are strange too. So moral of the story: paint color and undertone are super important-I’d go so far as to say crucial-in setting the entire mood for your home. No pressure.
Okay, so now that we chose the color (it chose us?), let’s talk about paint sheen for a minute, m’kay? So you know how I mentioned that part of the reason I love white is for the historic note that it plays for me? Well, equally important in achieving a timeless look is the paint sheen-in other words, the shininess or lack thereof. Why? Close your eyes. Picture a lime-washed plaster wall on the interior of a house built before 1950. What do you see? Chalky deliciousness right?! Not a piece of drywall in sight. That, my friends, is before gloss ruined the world. No but seriously, satin sheen and up (meaning satin, semi-gloss, high-gloss) are really only necessary in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and some kitchens and on areas that require frequent dusting like trim. Higher-gloss paints have their place and are wonderfully wipeable, but personally, I would much rather touch up a rogue fingerprint on my walls occasionally than miss out on the gorgeousness that is flat paint. Because glossier paint reflects light, imperfections in the drywall are also highlighted. What a buzzkill eh? Drywall (at least in our area) typically has a texture even if it’s only a subtle sand texture. As with imperfections, texture, too, is highlighted with glossier paint. I want my walls to look more timeless, more plaster-like. In other words, more flat. For this reason, we bucked the trend and bought five gallons of Benjamin Moore in Simply White with a flat sheen. Rebels, I tell you.
So that’s how we came to the conclusion of which paint color and sheen work best in our home. Aaand over 1,200 words on paint is enough for one day. Come back soon to see our walls sporting Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. We did it, we’ve lived with it for over a year and we could not love it more. Excited for you to see it!