Mad About . . .

Podcast Notes: Why White Paint Should be Banned and Conscious Shopping

24th January 2019

Episode II is out now and as ever you can find all the notes and things we talked about on the show in today’s blog as well as other tips and hints that might prove useful even if you haven’t listened. But you know, you should, it’s fun …. Here’s the link

paint the door to match the walls image by

First up we spoke about why white paint should be banned. Now, don’t panic I’m not going to say you can’t ever use it, but I wanted to make the point that sometimes white is just the default colour. Sometimes another shade is better. After all, you don’t put on a white t-shirt every time you wear a pair of coloured trousers or a patterned skirt do you? Or perhaps you do? In which case wouldn’t one of the colours from the pattern look better?

See what I mean? Now before everyone gets upset, I have lots of white paint on walls, and floors and ceilings. And woodwork where it matches those walls. But sometimes a soft complimentary colour would be better.

For example my sitting room ceiling is white (as is the floor) and it’s fine with the chocolate brown walls. But it occurred to me during the recording of this show that a very, very pale pink might look better. Not that I’m volunteering to get back up that ladder mind.

paint the door to match the walls image by

Last year Sophie and I both styled a room for DFS (long before our podcast baby was born) and Sophie’s room set was painted in her beloved cobalt blue (as was the DFS raffles sofa she put with it) but the real gem was that she painted the ceiling in in a very soft pink which was a much better match than white and really made the space feel more thought through.

And in a codicil to that I am about to paint my spare room ceiling gold. Yes I am. I will show you when it’s done. If you remember in an earlier episode, Sophie suggested the spare room as a place to really be bold as you’re not in there that often. So I took her advice and we are going for it. I thought The Mad Husband was going to issue a marital veto, so I made him sit down before I told him and also made sure I had been really good at tidying and loading the dishwasher beforehand (two things I am particularly bad at and that he usually does) and to my utter surprise he was instantly, and completely, on board. I fear I may have to hang my clothes up every day for ever more.

So in short by all means use white paint but make sure it’s the best colour to compliment the rest of the scheme and not just the one the builder brought round. And, finally, I tend not to use brilliant white either. A softer, chalkier shade is often better. Look for names like cotton, clouds, chalk etc – things that don’t imply brilliance. As Sophie points out Architect’s White is likely to be pretty stark and pure.

DFS House Of Colour

DFS House Of Colour- by Sophie Robinson – blue walls pink ceiling

Next up we spoke about conscious shopping, a subject which feels more and more important and follows on from our piece about clearing out and donating things you no longer need. Sophie has worked with Etsy recently and it really got her thinking about being more conscious of what she is buying and putting in her home.

So how can we do this? Well last week’s post about the revival of brown furniture totally plays into that. Re-using and re-homing antique furniture is much better for the planet than buying new stuff. Sophie talks about shopping your home by which she means re-arranging existing furniture in your home to freshen it up a bit, changing things with the seasons so you can reinvent a room periodically. Sophie loves to up-cycle, not least because it’s cheap!

antique bedside table image by emilie fournet interiors

antique bedside table image by emilie fournet interiors

It’s about mindful shopping. Do I love that, willI I love it for ever, will it fit in more than one room? And more and more companies are wising up to that. We have even discovered a company that you can subscribe to which will send you bamboo toothbrushes which is so much more sustainable than plastic.

Consider also where you are buying from. I have spoken before about Aerende, which works with people who have social disadvantages, and buying from places where the employees might benefit as well as products which last longer. Which may, in turn, may it more expensive. But Sophie points out that buying from Etsy, which sells direct from the maker that you may not have to pay store mark up as well as being able to talk directly to the maker which makes for a more personal service.

how to zone and open plan space with flooring image by

Finally, how to arrange an open plan space. When you knock down walls you instantly remove places to put furniture so that becomes harder. Sophie insists you need the same flooring throughout while I thought you needed different flooring for each zone. We disagreed. Sophie uses rugs throughout to zone while I thought it was fine to have tiles in the kitchen area and wood elsewhere but you can avoid straight lines like this:

This is one place where you need really big rugs as they act as substitute walls so you need all the furniture to sit on them to create a virtual room. Underfloor heating is also crucial as there are no walls to put radiators on. Also you must have furniture with its back to other pieces so that again you are creating smaller “rooms” within the space.

create a series of rooms without walls in a large open plan space via the modern house

create a series of rooms without walls in a large open plan space via the modern house 

Different types of lighting will also do this – some pendant lights in different areas as well as floor lights to break up the space. Watch out for spotlights all over an open plan space or it might look like an airport lounge. Use big plants and bookcases to divide spaces as well.

When it comes to zoning the spaces you can also use paint. Try painting two walls around a corner to designate a dining area and perhaps, if there are pillars holding the ceiling up paint those too. Or paint triangles and parts of walls.

Finally if the kitchen is part of the whole space you don’t want it to look too “kitcheny” but something that’s a bit more kitchen furniture in the space – open shelves and recipe books for example. Or super modern next to your chintzy sofa for contrast.

You’ll have to listen for our design crimes…


With thanks as ever to DFS for sponsoring this podcast so we can continue to ramble about cushions and colours every fortnight. 

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  • Anna 24th January 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Heather there are some wonderfully striking wall papers to choose from for that space. Go back through old posts of Kate’s blog for ideas.

    White is actually a rather complicated choice. It can have tinges of colour in it that are not suitable for the way your room faces. There have been rave reviews about Milk white which apparently can go anywhere, north, south , east or west facing rooms.

    White for ceilings? This is unbeatable, Dulux Trade White Supermatt Emulsion paint 10L then spend your money on rather more expensive coloured paint for walls.

    I have read that if the room has a low ceiling, depending upon your style, the ceiling can be painted with a white gloss effect, to enhance the effect of the day light.

  • hng23 24th January 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace is the perfect white for me. I face west, so in the morning the white has a pale green watery undertone; as the light brightens it becomes warmer & creamier, by evening it has a warm golden tone. It’s a great white if you have to live through cold winters. I used it for the entire apt, ceilings as well. It also brings out the gold tones of my antique oak pieces.

    • Erica 24th January 2019 at 6:23 pm

      YES! Its on the walls in my 2nd bedroom. I prefer white walls and there are a thousand shades of white that can be used. White is a color in case y’all forgot. But I prefer white for almost everything since its my preferred aesthetic. That Sophie Robinson living room above makes me want to pop 5 Advil and hide in a dark room, it hurts my eyes so much. To each his own. I’ll take 5 different whites and do a room. Done.

      • Nicola 25th January 2019 at 4:37 am

        I suspect it’s might be considered really boring but I like one colour all through a house. I just find it calming. I think if you find a white that works everywhere you are on to a Winner.

    • Annie 27th January 2019 at 6:36 pm

      That is my favorite white too. I put a bunch of whites next to each other, and the Chantilly was the one that was neither warm, nor cold. My moulding is in that color, and I really should paint my ceiling that way too, it’s just a matter of taking the time and effort to do it.

  • Rach with an E 24th January 2019 at 9:55 am

    I painted my bedroom ceiling antique gold some years ago. It was a brave move but I stuck with it, even though I had my reservations half way across! I livrbit, though.
    Now I’m thinking of something similar in the dining room which has (oh dear) plain white walls. I can’t find the right pink as it’s a north facing room – sulking room pink got me excited but, alas, no – so I’ve been thinking of another colour. I just don’t know which! Help!

  • Jordan Andrews Ltd 24th January 2019 at 9:19 am

    That photo with the herringbone floors meeting the hexagon tiles was one of our clients. The wood floor is Istoria Bespoke Clear Matt Smoked & Brushed in a Herringbone 15/4 x 120 x 600mm and the designer did a fantastic job of blending it to the tiles.

  • Heather Dyer 24th January 2019 at 9:18 am

    I have a very large sliding door to my garden from our open plan sitting room and kitchen/dining area the other end (with terracotta tiles and underfloor heating by the way). I don’t bother with curtains but the wall next to the sliding door is a problem as you can’t hang a painting or mirror there as the door has to open. What would you recommend to stop it looking boring?

    • Teresa Hamlin 24th January 2019 at 5:57 pm

      Heather Dyer, have you considered wallpaper? Could be just the thing….

  • phyllis walters 24th January 2019 at 9:05 am

    definitely dont agree, paining, re painted, expensive and disruptive, white, off white’s serve as blank canvas and
    you can change your colours, seasonally, with soft furnishing, smaller less expensive items,give the rooms entirely different
    feel, …with seasonal colour…

    • Nicola 25th January 2019 at 4:30 am

      I wish there was a ‘like’ button on here because I really like Phyllis’ comment! All true.

      I’m a big fan of white but I thought I would listen to the podcast before replying. But I still love white and I also love pure brilliant white. You touched on the quality of light affecting white and that’s one big reason for me liking brilliant white – because I live in Australia where our light is very yellow and even the merest hint of a warm undertone intensifies. Maybe if I lived in London or Brighton I might want something to cheer me up but for now I’m sticking with the white paint.

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