NEST BUILDING COLUMN: White washed
I woke up last Saturday morning, the sun was shining and Nelson had been treated to a fresh coat of pure white snow. It was clean and sparkly and unspoiled. It's what we all strive towards as we brush our teeth and bleach our linens. White is also a go-to shade for many homeowners, contractors and decorators. It provides a clean slate and is so obviously a non-colour, it is unlikely to offend.
The utilitarian aspects of white can be classified as follows: convenience, cleanliness and consistency.
White is a convenient choice because it requires very little thought. Everything will 'go' with it so it is an easy default colour. However, not all whites are created equal. If you look at a collection of paint store chips you will soon see that 'Wedding White' can look quite dingy beside 'Snow White' and 'Antique White' looks almost yellow beside 'Pearl Morning'.
White is also recognized as a measure of cleanliness—particularly appealing if you live in a laboratory. White is associated with purity, innocence and perfection. Because of this, it must be well maintained. A white sofa with even the slightest stain will appear to have fallen from grace and white walls conspire to draw your eye to every scuff, dent or mark.
As a default option, white offers consistency within a room or throughout a building even if it is only applied to the trim, woodwork and ceilings. It's so much easier to have one can of paint for all these details particularly where rooms flow from one to another—there are no difficult decisions to be made when a corner or a doorway crops up.
The world is so full of colour that white is rarely my first choice. To me, a white wall looks unfinished and screams for saturated colour and I find white furnishings and accessories very unsettling. But of course there are people who find white calming and restorative.
An all-white room can also provides an opportunity for a little drama; for example, if you want to single out a favourite colour, then a splash of that in the midst of a sea of white is very striking. However, the problem with such contrived spaces—if they are intended for living in—is that they require extra diligence and preclude certain behaviours. There is no place for black dogs, sticky children, newsprint, well-worn tatty blankets or mis-matched cookware.
Like everything—and everyone—you invite into your home, don't settle for what seems convenient and easy. Go after your passion and if it turns out to be all things white, pursue it consciously and deliberately. And remember, if you must put your feet up on the coffee table, wear white socks!
You can look for my posts on the first of every month. If you have questions or comments about interior decorating and other 'nesting' issues, I'd love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Bridger is a Nelson artist and author. Find out more at www.katebridger.ca