Dirt Denial and the White Mania

For whatever reason, about two months ago I started to enjoy watching home reno shows. I don't like all of them, but have enjoyed several like Good Bones and Fixer Upper (only in reruns). As I haven't watched them in the past I was able to record shows from past seasons as well. It's been fun to see innovative decorating ideas, even if they're not my style.

There has been a trend lately that I just can't fathom. White, white and more white.  Outside brick walls painted white. Sometimes this works - other times it's a head slap. Inside walls and all inside trim painted white.  Kitchen cabinets - you guessed it, white. Even the countertop is white although there is sometimes little accent in the marbling.  Back splashes white - and often out of subway tile. They might give wood floors, but if not, here comes that white tile again with occasionally a few patterned accents.  

The bathrooms come and go.  Usually there is a patterned tile with white as one of the colours, but at least an accent of some kind. And bathroom vanities they seem to give themselves permission to use wood or a colour. However I've seen a lot of very sterile all white bathrooms including one that they covered all the walls in the small space with shiny WHITE subway tiles.  Then the couch in the family room is white and in the last few shows I watched, even the dining room table chairs had white covers on them. For the right client, this is great. But as a trend it's just not going to work for many. 

I have a few thoughts on this. I understand if you're renovating a place for resale, you want to stay fairly neutral to reach as wide a customer as possible. But white on white on white really stretches this limit. There are other neutrals with pale tones that would also work - a pale taupe, or pale grey for example. Yes, I know you can bring in colour with accents and art work, so if you want to change your palette, neutral walls make the transition easier. But talented professionals find a way to balance the use of colours subtly. I assume you save on paint when everything is simply one colour. Can't argue there. However, in the end, this is boring as hell, isn't a great reflection on the talent of the designer, and sometimes flies in the face of the family's needs. 

After watching three shows in a row that literally whitewashed almost everything both inside and out, I felt incredibly bored. I was there to get new ideas, not see the same thing done over and over and over. In every one of these shows the work was being done for a set client with tastes the professionals could mine to make sure any colours chosen would be welcome.  And shoot me as the messenger of bad news, but what family with small kids needs a white couch in the family room and white chairs at the dinner table?? Seriously. I had enough trouble keeping those spaces clean when they weren't white.

I think my fav was an episode of a show on Netflix.  The couple and designed the decor in an enormous house being built for friends/clients.  This time around the client was super behind all the white as well.  When the work was finished, the show did a final walk through so the couple could see how it looked with all the light fixtures, furniture and accents.  The glaring white everywhere burned out my retinas, but I was in the space of, well they seem happy. It seems to be what THEY wanted.

Then they entered the large family/game room featuring a GIANT brilliant white sectional facing an enormous TV.  The space didn't feel warm or relaxing to me. It was so white it felt sterile. I found that a strange choice for a hangout room everyone including guests were to relax in. The mother oohed and aahed and said something like, "This is perfect. When my kids are teenagers, this is where they can hang out with their friends." Then the dad sat down, put his feet up, and all hell broke loose. She yelled, get your feet off my white couch.  WHOA!

If you've ever had a group of teenagers hanging out in your home, you know they want to relax and sprawl. They eat cheezies and popcorn while sitting on the furniture. Pieces get dropped on the couch and sometimes tossed at each other. Pop and juice spill. Feet are definitely up at times and occasionally a bit of friendly shoving or wrestling occurs.  If even her husband can't sit properly on this giant neon white sectional, how will this future teenage horde ever relax here? What's wrong with this picture?

I am hoping this trend eases to a balance of these neon whites with other tones to warm up the spaces, along with design work featuring more use of warmer neutrals. I hope the home stylists start showing more creativity  in the use of colour to make a room unique and more examples of warmer tones in design.  And most of all, I hope they quit giving people with small kids white couches in the family rooms where they relax and white chairs at the table where they eat.  Just not fun and a lot of work to keep clean. 

Until then, I will continue to ask - what were they thinking?