Despite being a long-time lover of white walls, even I am noticing the shift away from this classic, albeit perhaps too safe option. I have always painted my walls some version of white, usually a true white as I have always found they can handle best my constantly changing style and provide a fresh backdrop for more softer neautrals.
But recently I have been moving away from white towards softer, warmer shades, and all the color trends are pointing towards this move too. I recently chose a plaster pink for my bedroom, and I am considering a soft, deep beige for my living room. Which begs the question, are white walls still on trend? Or are they becoming the new magnolia, safe and boring?
Before I paint over all the walls in my home, I asked interior designers for their input.
Are white walls still on trend?
White is always lurking somewhere in interior design trends, it will never totally fall out of trend. I think what I am interested in is deciding whether white walls, despite being verstile and yes, very much a classic choice, if they make my home look too safe, too stark and that I should in fact be abandoning white for warmer, deeper more noticeable shades?
'White walls are (thankfully) gradually fading from the trend spotlight. For many years, they have been associated with a minimalist aesthetic, but the current shift towards warmer and more character-filled spaces makes them less appealing. I've always preferred embracing colors and textures that infuse a unique personality into each room, rather than just painting everything white.' says designer Kati Curtis.
'However, if you find yourself drawn to the classic simplicity of white walls, consider choosing a variant with a subtle hint of pink or beige to add depth and warmth. Rose Uniacke's Grafclean paints offer a wonderful palette to choose from. Particularly, the shades "Marshmallow" and "Canvas" can provide that sophisticated, nuanced freshness to your interiors, making them feel inviting and timeless.'
So we should indeed all be going warmer with our whites, no more Brilliant White, but rather more earthy neutrals that make spaces feel cozier and more inviting.
Kati Curtis is the founder of Kati Curtis Design, an design firm based in New York City specializing in classic design with a global influence. Kati founded the studio in 2005 after 12 years of working with international architecture and engineering firms.
There are many designers who believe white walls can never be outdated, they are timeless, versatile, and totally adaptable to any change in trends. The key is how you decorate white rooms in order to ensure they always feel on-trend.
'White walls are a design choice that I've always found to be both timeless and versatile. The enduring charm of white walls is their adaptability. White is a neutral color that effortlessly complements any design style, whether it's a minimalist and modern look or a more traditional and eclectic one. The clean and fresh appearance of white walls can make a room feel open, spacious, and well-lit, which is especially beneficial in smaller or dimly lit spaces. I love the fact that I can experiment with color, texture, and pattern, knowing that white will create a harmonious backdrop.' says designer Jennifer Davis.
'While classic pure whites will always have their place, we've become increasingly drawn to the world of off-whites, creamy tones, and soft, warm white paints as of late in the design world. These subtle variations give spaces a whole new dimension. They add depth and mood, transforming a room from feeling sterile to cozy and inviting.'
Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.
'The beauty of white walls is that they're so timeless and really defy the trend cycle' explains designer Kathy Kuo. 'To me, as a designer, white walls present a blank canvas that can beautifully frame any space depending on how you arrange your wall art, mirrors, and furniture. White walls never go out of style because they absorb light into a room and because they are infinitely versatile.'
So maybe I can justify my white walls? This ability to change as my tastes and trends change is why I have stuck with them for so long. You take a risk choosing a bolder or more trend-led color because there's no guarantee that next season the shade will work. And they are less adaptable to bringing in new styles too.
Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry.
Designer Cherie Lee agrees that it's the blankness of white that means it will never go out of style. It can adapt to changing trends so easily that it never risks looking dated.
'White walls will never cease to be popular, and will always have a place within an interior designer's tool kit. As the ultimate neutral, a white wall is a blank canvas that allows other prominent elements of a design scheme to stand out. It can be warmed up with a layered look including timbers and textures or can be used to cool the aesthetics of a room using stones and concretes for a modern, sleek look.' she explains.
Whether white walls are best for your home also depends on the aspect. If choosing a white paint you want to avoid it ever looking cold or clinical, even if you like a more minimalist look a bright white in cooler light is neither flattering nor welcoming.
As Patrick O’Donnell of Farrow & Ball explains, 'While white can definitely help the appearance of light within a room you absolutely must take into consideration the aspects of said room you’re decorating otherwise you could end up with dreary and soulless!'
'For south-facing rooms, try cooler, bluer-tinged whites to create a fresh and minimalist aesthetic or warm-toned whites create a soft glow in full sun. North-facing rooms are potentially the most tricky to decorate. Use whites that contain some yellow or red pigment to inject some much-needed warmth, such as Dimity or White Tie.'
'East-facing is your morning light, so this tends to be a little cooler. Try Shaded White here for a contemporary edge. West facing is your afternoon light and loves warmer shades. Think of an earthy off-white like Stirabout or the palest of red-based neutral such as Joa’s White for a truly cozy look.'
Always order swatches when choosing a white paint, it really is a chameleon shade that changes so much under certain lights. You can read a description, know the undertones, etc but once you get it in a space you could see a totally different color than expected.
The takeaway? White walls are still on trend, they always will be in some form or another. However, there is a definite change, warmer whites are the go-to, creating cozier and more welcoming rooms. So if you are considering white walls, look to the warmer side of the spectrum, look for earthy neutrals with red, yellow, and brown undertones that will still give a lightness and brightness to a room but also depth.
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I am the Head of Interiors at Homes & Gardens. I started off in the world of journalism in fashion and luxury travel and then landed my first interiors role at Real Homes and have been in the world of interior design ever since. Prior to my role at H&G I was the digital editor at Livingetc, from which I took a sabbatical to travel in my self-converted van (not as glamorous as decorating a home, but very satisfying). A year later, and with lots of technical DIY lessons learnt I am back to writing and editing, sometimes even from the comfort of my home on wheels.
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