Column: Home styles, floor plans: the new neutral

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When we were in Oklahoma in November for the funeral of Stephen’s 108-year-old aunt we spent time with family and got the grand tour of my brother-in-law and his wife’s new home they were planning to move into. They are downsizing from about 5,000 square feet to something about half that size. And the decor was changing from what they describe as a “Tuscany” feel to a more modern, nearly all white home. Large windows abound and I could tell by my brother-in-law’s tone that he would have liked to have just stayed where he was, but there are two people in a couple so change is about to happen.

I encouraged Linda to check out a couple of decorators I had followed for a long time, Vicente Wolf and Darryl Carter. I have admired their work for the last couple of decades and they both work with a lighter more neutral background. I also encouraged her to check out the range of durable fabrics that are for indoor/outdoor. This whole area of weather-proof/spill-proof/kid-proof fabric has just exploded over the last few years. Fabric isn’t too stiff or too formal that kids and dogs aren’t allowed anymore.

I have nothing against color but am more drawn to neutrals, with furniture and objects taking center stage. And I love the idea of more windows, especially when you have the beautiful mountains for views. Modern windows are made so much better nowadays and have Rh-factors that make them a good fit in colder climates as well as warmer ones.

The power of a white room can be stunning, crisp and clean. It can allow art, furniture and architecture to stand out and take center stage. But how do you find the perfect white for you?

First, go to a paint center and take a sample of whites that look good to you. Take them home and look at them in different light: daylight, night light, artificial light. Study what the undertones are if any. Some of the common undertones are blue, lavender, yellow, linen and grey. Do you have a couch with a touch of that color? What are the colors that you favor? What colors look best on you?

Another thing to consider is finish. Do you want a glossy, matte or eggshell finish to your walls. And do you want that in a cool or warm shade of white.

One more consideration would be to check what the light is on your exposure. For example, there are only five rooms in my home with a northern exposure, the other six, which include the living room, dining room and kitchen, have a southern exposure. Northern and southern light are very different so I chose a white with a little yellow in it to pick up the yellow in the southern light. I love the power that this color has given my rooms and when I do add color be it a wash or glaze, this base color will shine through and unify the public rooms of our home.

Just as home styles and floor plans change so too do colors and the choices they inspire.

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is a master gardener.

By |February 18th, 2017|

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