By Kevin Hamby, RID
Spring is on its way, and it’s time to simplify our surroundings. Crisp white is the new gray, so why not change into this season’s inspiring hue?
Changing your attitude and feelings about your home can be quite challenging. We often regard the items in our home as valuable, heirloom, and sentimental, so it’s a struggle to relinquish some of them so you can contemplate a new way of living.
The best way to inject some fresh air into your domicile is to start small. It can be a cozy nook in the living room, guest bedroom, or even the bathroom—any space that you feel can handle the change without too much disruption.
Some of us have a negative reaction to using white within our surroundings because of the perception that it’s difficult to keep clean and perfect. But with today’s technology, stains on finishes and textiles are a thing of the past. Walls can be painted in an eggshell finish that can be wiped down. All-polyester slipcovers that feel comparable to fine linen can be thrown in the wash. White doesn’t have to be scary! In fact, white is the quintessential companion to all colors, providing a strong contrast in a space that can carry the eye to the next color with ease. White is sophisticated and calming, and if used correctly, enhances objects in a way that’s similar to what we see at an art gallery or museum. And it can make that family heirloom look even more special.
Let’s start with the basics. Benjamin Moore (benjaminmoore.com) “Simply White” OC-117 is their color of the year. This hue has a soft glow that is not too stark. It looks best in a flat finish, but if you have more of a maintenance issue, then stick with the eggshell finish. Paint the walls, doors, and trim all the same color and finish to create a continuous canvas.
If you are looking to update the bedroom or living room this spring, High Fashion Home (highfashionhome.com) Silk Dupioni Drapery Panel in Milk White (in the 10-foot length) is great for puddling on the floor. Use simple and timeless drapery hardware, and install close to the ceiling for a dramatic effect that lets the richness of the textile embrace the surroundings. Drapery helps to soften the hard architectural edges of a room, allowing the space to feel more relaxed.
The living room, being one of the main rooms for entertaining, should create comfort and encourage easy socializing without the formality. This can be achieved in any context, from a small apartment to a large home. It’s all about incorporating layers of unique and dynamic furnishings into the space. Most people will run out and buy the entire room at a big-box store, but I like to cultivate a mix of old and new furnishings to give the space an inviting “lived-in” look. That is why when the old sofa or lounge chair needs an update, I look to slipcovers rather than new upholstery. My new source is LS Slipcovers (lsslipcovers.com). Laura Siebert will visit your home and custom-fit your furniture with an array of affordable and durable textile selections. I prefer the 14-oz. Pure White Duck Cloth Canvas for slipcovers; it’s durable without compromising comfort. The slipcover can be stain-treated, and you could also have it professionally cleaned.
Mixing old and new creates a great feeling, as does mixing different styles of furnishings. There’s no better way to express “eclectic” than by using a traditional classic wooden side table with a modern lounge chair. The polished stainless-steel Major Chair in white leather from Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams (mgbwhome.com) can create a timeless look with an injection of sleek lines. The contrast this creates with other furniture styles is sublime.
Refined versus rustic. When defining a space, it’s important to break lines and traditions by using one or two pieces that are natural or organic. For example, the live-edge table from Arka Living (arkaliving.com) creates warmth and reflectiveness to an otherwise uniform space.
Creating the right wall unit for all of your audio-video gear can be a challenge, and storage can be an issue in any room. But Scavolini (scavolini.us) makes it look easy by incorporating sleek lines with a combination of contemporary colors. Most of their pieces are wall-mounted, which creates a more integrated architectural approach to the space.
No floor is complete without a suitable rug. Rusty Arena is a local Houston artist who has created hand-painted wall coverings and distinguished textiles over the past three decades. His new rug line from AER Textiles (aertextiles.com) will give any room elegance and artistry. “Flutter,” with its white and grey tones, can ground a seating arrangement and charm any space.
Lighting is the most important component in a space, and we’d be remiss if we did not explore its many possibilities. Without light, you would not be able to enjoy color. The Archer floor lamp from Cantoni (cantoni.com) creates illumination with dynamic style. The tensile arched arm and the round drum shade creates an illuminated canopy over the seating arrangement, while exploring the verticality of the space.
Last but not least, you cannot finish a room without attention to the blank canvas that is the walls. It doesn’t matter what artwork is selected, because art is a subjective, personal decision. Patrick Renner (patrickrennerart.com) is a Houston artist of the famed Montrose Blvd. Funnel Tunnel, and has investment artwork available. His medium of painted boards creates the punch of inspirational color needed to complete our “pure perfection” white concept.
Kevin Hamby is a registered interior designer in the state of Texas, professor of interior design at Houston Community College, and owner of Kevin Hamby Designs. His award-winning interior-design work spans residential and commercial projects from Minute Maid Park to River Oaks Country Club. kevinhambydesigns.com