The Block: Glasshouse co-winner and interior architect, Shannon Vos, shares his advice on banning boring interiors and using the right surfaces, textures and accents to make white a winner in your place.
Our love affair with white interiors is undeniable. I mean, how many pinned images or liked pics do we all have of an all-white palette, from kitchens and bathrooms to living areas and bedrooms? There’s something about white that we all love; it can look so damn good and it’s what so many of us strive for, sometimes without even knowing why. But there’s a fine line between a beautiful white room and a boring white-out, so how do we make white interesting? Let’s have a look.
Using white is not a new thing – just look at classic whitewashed Greek houses and Scandinavian design with its milky white walls and floors. White has been ‘in’ for donkey’s years. More recently, it has come back as a reaction to the colour and pattern outburst of the early 2000s. Maybe we were so fed up with the complexity of matching umpteen colours and busy patterns, that we just said ‘enough is enough, we’re going white’. I also think it’s a reaction to the craziness of our lives now. A white palette can bring a zen-like mood to a home – it feels calm and simple. It can be a blank canvas that will let other elements in a home shine, and the trick is to find a balance that gives your home a serene feel, without the starkness of a hospital operating theatre.
Texture & contrast
While it’s lovely to have a crisp white home – open, light and clean – it all needs balance. A white-walled home with white floors, a light kitchen and white everything else could look like a dentist’s surgery. We need textures and tones to complement and contrast with all that starkness. Try to mix up your surfaces, for example, instead of plain plasterboard walls, try painted v-groove timber or shiplap panelling. The result is still white, but with interesting form to break up the wall.
For contrast, look to striking greenery, and plenty of it. Devil’s ivy, fiddle-leaf fig and ferns are a great accompaniment to a white palette. Timber will also be a white home’s best friend. Light or dark warm timber floors, walls or even ceilings balance the emptiness a white scheme can have. Offset your light display with some bold pops of colour or pattern in your furniture, rugs or artworks, but if colour is not your thing and you’re a more of a lover of grey (not the 50 Shades type), pick a few bold monochromatic pieces to add some depth to your spectrum. This depth and subtle contrast will add loads of warmth and character to what can otherwise be a stark and cold colour scheme.
You may not want to go as far as white floors, but there are some great options for lighter floors that provide subtle contrast to white walls without making your home feel like an art gallery. Mafi offers beautiful engineered timbers with a white oil finish that will quickly give you that Nordic feel – its ‘Oak Molto’ range in a Deep White Oil finish is a favourite of mine. Also check out ‘The Architect Collection Danish White’ engineered timber from Royal Oak Floors and Tongue N Groove’s Bistre colour for a limed effect. If you have an existing timber floor that you want to refinish, look at Porter’s Paints ‘Wood Wash’ range for a DIY option.
Kitchens & bathrooms
Another way to make white interesting is to incorporate the pattern and texture of natural materials. When it comes to hard surfaces, stone is the ultimate luxury. Take a look at the natural stone range at WK Stone, which is the bee’s knees if you have the budget, or Quantum Quartz engineered stone might fit the bill. There are lots more engineered options to consider, including ‘Concetto’ in White Quartz and Statuario Nuvo from Caesarstone. Both have subtle undertones that can be repeated elsewhere to tie in two or more elements. Smartstone have slabs in their ‘Santorini’ collection that give that Greek- island look without the cost of marble.
If you’re all up in that white, you may as well coordinate your appliances with your benchtop. A composite granite sink is perfect with a white palette, and Franke makes great hardwearing white granite sinks. While you’re at it, you can even choose an exact shade of white with Ilve’s colour matching service for range cookers. And Smeg’s new white ceramic induction cooktop range is a sleek way to hide the usually in-your-face black cooktop, or pick a white oven from the ‘Linear’ range.
Getting it white just got easier with simple styling inspirations –check out below: