Starting From White….how to choose color for an empty white box

My dear friend Barbara is starting over. For the past 24 years she has lived in the most beautiful 100 year old Craftsman style home. It is meticulously decorated with rich warm colors and it is such a warm and welcoming home. She has filled it with a lifetime of family memories, travel memorabilia, collectibles, and art work.

Her soon to be built new home is an open concept, contemporary penthouse condo just minutes from downtown Boston…completely different from what she currently owns. She is ready for a fresh start, a new look, and is bringing practically nothing from her current home.

She recently asked me to help her pick colors since her contractor is almost ready to paint.

Barbara in her new condo which is currently a white box

Barbara is in the medical profession and has a highly stressful job. She spends her days in white, sterile, operating rooms and does NOT want bright white walls in her new home. She DOES want the same warm and inviting feeling that she has in her current home but she likes the light, open and airy feel of her new home….so, where to begin choosing color?

She is planning to purchase mostly all new furniture and decor for her new home so I didn’t have the usual “go to” items I would usually use for color inspiration such as existing carpet,  fabric or art work.

The kitchen is where color maven Maria Killam advises people to start with color direction in new construction ( look at the counter tops) but Barbara has chosen white cabinetry with white quartz counter tops…okay, not much help here.

A BUNCH more questions and Barbara picks some color inspiration words...Asian inspired, light neutral colors, warm,  pops of red, maybe an accent wall….okay, now we are getting somewhere. Barbara finds an inspiration fabric to work off of….BINGO!     She  has decided to bring two chairs from her current home and have them reupholstered in this beautiful cream and red Asian inspired print. Now I have a starting point.

 

 

 

cream and red Asian inspired fabric

 

Using the creamy background of the fabric as our jumping off point we choose a few soft neutrals as possibilities for the main walls. We also discuss using the warm red of the flowers as a possible accent wall color.

 

 

fabric with color possibilities

 

In the living room there is a free standing wall on the left ( with all the blond wood leaning against it) where we discussed  having some sort of accent or focal wall. The sofa will go against this wall and the two reupholstered chairs will face it. We considered  painting the wall completely red or possibly  having a decorative painter do something creative using the red flower blossoms in the fabric as her inspiration.

location of possible focal or accent wall on left

The next step is to paint up some large sample boards of our chosen colors and see how they look at different times of the day in her condo. My friend is so excited to have a color direction and she can now start to visualize what will soon be a spectacular new home.

 

Next up..the bedrooms!

 



 

 

6 Responses to Starting From White….how to choose color for an empty white box
  1. kristie@thedecorologist Reply

    Thank you for sharing your process when decorating – it’s always interesting and helpful for me to hear how other professionals approach a new space (especially one that’s practically a blank slate)!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Kristie, I have found that without ANYTHING to go on you might as well spin the color wheel and where it falls there’s your color!

  2. Kelly Reply

    Great job Linda! I love all the photos. Why do you think people ask for our help AFTER they choose cabinets and countertops?? Good luck!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Kelly! Also, I really don’t think people even consider color in new construction until the contractor says ” Painters coming next week, what color do you want the wall?.”

  3. ann flynn Reply

    Linda ,
    I love your teaching style!!! The beautiful fabric is beautiful for the starting inspiration point. The colors you chose on the affinity fan deck look great! I am staying posted for the after photos.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Ann, thank you SO much!! I have been thinking of you…I still haven’t made it out to SF.

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