Another Convert From White Walls

Color vs. White Wall
Notice How the Grayed-Green Walls Show Off Art & The Exposed Ceiling Detail

A neighbor and friend in Takoma Park, MD was planning to paint the interior of her home.  It’s a wonderful craftsman – small but with lots of nice details. I had always thought the house was a bit washed out with a light, monochromatic color palette.  I asked if she was open to something new.  Here’s the result and her own words about the change:

White vs. Color Palette
AFTER – The small home feels larger with more detail
White Walls Lack Depth & Interest
Off-White Walls Lack Depth & Interest

“My house is a tiny Craftsman bungalow with small rooms.  It’s filled with an eclectic collection of art, antiques, and other stuff I’ve inherited, collected, or made myself.  There’s no theme, period, or color scheme.  With this much variety in little spaces, I thought I needed a uniform, neutral background like khaki and white.

“The house feels bigger now.  The darker walls recede.  When I walk through the house, there are subtle changes in the wall colors and light, so it feels like a journey in several stages.  That captures my senses and makes the walk seem longer.

“I’ve always loved the beam and board ceiling in the living room, but it never really showed up like it should.  Now it reflects light, shadow, and paint colors as the light changes.  I find myself slouching in my easy chair, looking up, and enjoying the show.

“I especially enjoy the contrast between the tiny kitchen and the largest room, the living room.  The kitchen ceiling, painted dark gray green, feels lower than it really is, and makes it seem cozy.  Then when I walk into the living room, the white beam and board ceiling seems much higher and bigger than it actually is.  Welcome to Versailles!

“My collection of art and things looks good against the gray green walls.  I wasn’t surprised that the reds really sing, but I was delighted at how good the greens and blues look.  “

Banish White Walls
Notice How the Contrast of Trim and Room Transitions Enhance the Experience
Add Depth with Wall Color
Add Depth & Dimension with Wall Color
Artwork is Enhance with Wall Color
Artwork is Enhance with Wall Color
Wall Color Enhances Artwork
Wall Color Enhances Artwork


I follow certain rules when I develop a palette for a home.  The transition areas (foyer and hallways) are the deepest most intense color within the palette.  The wall color gets lighter as you move through the home toward the rooms with the most daylight.  All wood trim is painted the same color for continuity – usually an off-white that coordinates with the paint.  In this case, with a palette of greyed-greens, the white has hint of yellow for a soft crème to contrast with the walls and the wood blinds.  I prefer quite complex colors – ones where it’s hard to say what’s in it.  These colors provide the greatest variability on the wall reflecting different hues depending on the light source and value.  Shadows and highlights are shown to great effect.  I also prefer matte finish because imperfections in the wall surface are less visible and they absorb the most light and therefore reflect the best color.

Please help us get out the word

2 thoughts on “Another Convert From White Walls”

  1. Beautiful walls. What is the paint color/brand that you used in the living room? I’m searching for a similar color pictured, except that I have off white/ivory trim. Thanks.

  2. Stephanie – selecting paint is difficult because the color can look dramatically different depending on the available light, the type of light, and other colors around it. I’ve actually used several different colors in the rooms in this home. All are Benjamin Moore – Matte finish. The matte finish is very important to reveal the complexity of color (and to help hide blemishes on old walls). The wall colors include: 2142-50 Gray Mirage; 2140-50 Gray Horse; and 2142-60 November Rain. The deep accent color is 2138-40 Carolina Gull. The trim is 2160-70 Sugar Cookie in a semi-gloss. These colors will look quite different with a different off-white trim color. When selecting colors, I suggest using large 8×8 color swatches. Colors should do more than “go together”. The colors should bring out the best in each other. So ask yourself not which you like better but instead which colors looks better and richer in combination. Have fun!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.