Real home: 6 ways to make white work in any space from this gorgeous Japandi-inspired home

White doesn't have to be boring – and this home is proof

Living room
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Considering it's such a foundational colour, using white in your home isn't always foolproof. Getting the balance right without making a space feel too minimal, or even cold, is tricky. But don't worry, we've got you! If you're renovating a house and want some ideas for using white the right way, Laura and Andrew's incredible Japandi-inspired home will give you plenty of food for thought. 

Laura and Andrew made the move to Halifax when Andrew was offered a new job in nearby Manchester, and as soon as they saw the photographs of their three-bedroom Victorian terrace, they knew it was perfect. It was over budget at £225,000, – 'but since it’d been on the market for six months, we put in a cheeky offer of £205,000 and managed to get it for £213,000,’ says Laura. 

White kitchen with stone fireplace, wooden open shelving for jars and bowls

Shelves, stool and freestanding storage unit, all Ikea (opens in new tab). Illustration, Lieke Van Der Vorst (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Taking their cue from the exposed bricks, the couple have returned the house back to its original state. ‘It was all about pulling it back to its bones to create a look that’s natural, rustic and exposed,' says Laura. Previously dark green and red walls have given way to muted tones. ‘I’m a bit scared of colour on walls,’ admits Laura. ‘I prefer a white, crisp backdrop that I can add textures and colours to through textiles and accessories.’

On a tight budget and not wanting to needlessly rip anything out, they have kept the original bath, toilet and sink, but replaced the flooring and added a new shower cubicle. In the kitchen, the couple decided to keep the original flagstones to maintain the character of the space. ‘We love the kitchen so much and spend more time in there than the living room,’ says Laura.

In the future, there is scope for the boys to move up into the loft, which currently houses Laura’s studio. ‘It’d make an amazing huge space for them as it feels like a separate part of the house where they can hide away,’ she says. ‘We could even add a bathroom and maybe a climbing wall or swing attached to the beam.’

Read on for the six top lessons we're taking from Laura and Andrew's home.

White kitchen-diner with exposed brick wall and oval wooden table and bench set

Kitchen units, table, benches and throw on window sill, Ikea (opens in new tab). Handles, Superfront (opens in new tab). Rug, Natural Rug Company (opens in new tab). Tiles, Bert & May (opens in new tab). DeLonghi 90cm gas range cooker (opens in new tab) is similar. Tea towel, The Printed Peanut (opens in new tab). Hob kettle, Le Creuset (opens in new tab). For similar magazine racks, try Dibor (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

1. Use your splashback to uplift a white kitchen


The owners Laura Park, an illustrator and creator of stationery brand Dear Prudence Studio (opens in new tab), her husband Andrew, a UXD designer, and their children Amos, six, and Eli, four
The property A three-bedroom terraced Victorian house in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Project cost £10,500

A clean white kitchen is the perfect base for an afternoon's cooking, but to avoid things feeling too clinical, make the most of little details around the room. Laura and Andrew added warmth with extra plywood storage and an oval dining table, and used geometric encaustic cement tiles to create a bold splashback – a small addition that has a lot of impact. ‘We couldn’t decide between three designs, so we put all of them up,’ says Laura.

The couple also framed the window by making a feature of the existing sill, turning it into a comfy window seat. ‘The view is beautiful so it’s nice to be able to sit in the window,’ says Laura. ‘We’ve added vintage magazine racks below, where the boys put their colouring books.’

White living room with exposed brick fireplace, open shelving in alcoves and white sofa covered with blue and white throw

Sofa, Loaf (opens in new tab). Welsh blanket, Trefriw Woollen Mill (opens in new tab). Rug, La Redoute (opens in new tab). TV unit and side table, Ikea (opens in new tab). Round shelving, Ferm Living (opens in new tab). Cushions, Made (opens in new tab) and Ikea (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

2. Consider using exposed brick in a white living room

Brickwork around the fireplace makes a statement in the living room and adds interest. 'We did consider painting it, but it was so integral to the age of the building I thought I might regret it,' says Laura. 'It reflects the brickwork in the kitchen, too.’ A joiner was hired to make raw pine shelving for the alcoves and Laura has painted the inside of the fireplace white. ‘It’s really made it pop,’ she says. ‘Before, it just looked like a dark hole.'

The couple’s style encompasses Scandi and Japanese elements, with mid-century pieces thrown into the mix too – like a G Plan coffee table inherited from Laura’s nan and a 1960s ‘make your own bag’ cloth kit repurposed as a wall hanging. ‘I also adore West German pottery but I’m fussy about the ones that I like,’ Laura says.

Personal touches like the Welsh blanket on the sofa, embroidered with Laura’s name and date of birth – a 30th birthday present from a friend – add warmth to the space. ’That’s one of the things I’d run out with if the house was on fire!’ she adds.

White bedroom with mid-century furniture

Chest of drawers, Made (opens in new tab). Artwork: large print, Fine Little Day (opens in new tab); smaller prints by Elizabeth Blackadder, Holly Acland (opens in new tab), Ana Frois (opens in new tab), Tom Frost (opens in new tab) and Alison Hardcastle (opens in new tab). Peg rail, Ikea (opens in new tab). Try Sarora Knots (opens in new tab) for a similar plant hanger 

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

3. Layer up the texture in a white bedroom

‘Because there are a lot of hard surfaces downstairs, we wanted upstairs to be cosier, so opted for a new carpet in our bedroom and a painted floor with a big rug in the boys’ bedroom,' says Laura. The carpet sets the relaxed tone for the space, which Laura's built upon by layering bedding and adding a plant hanger for texture.

A cluster of Laura’s favourite artists and illustrators adorn one wall. ‘Some people lay pictures out on the floor first but I’m very instinctive and hang things as I collect them,’ says Laura. ‘I prefer smaller pieces that look random and off centre.’

White kid's room with open shelving for clothes and books, bunk bed in light oak and white, and monochrome rug

Wall shelf, Ferm Living (opens in new tab). Hooks on door and box shelving unit, both Habitat (opens in new tab). Bunk beds, Made (opens in new tab). Rug, La Redoute (opens in new tab). Bedlinen, Camomile London (opens in new tab). Pillow cases, Roddy & Ginger (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

4. Use open shelving wherever you can (but keep things neat and tidy!)

Rather than closed-off cupboards, which can make a white space feel flat, Laura's opted for open shelving even in her children's room – a brave move, but one that works if you can keep things tidy.

As this room gets little light, painting the walls in white was a wise move. ‘Eli suffers from dust allergies so I ripped up the carpet in here,’ says Laura. ‘The floorboards were a state. It took a week to repair and clean them before using five coats of Dulux floor paint – it’s durable and easy to clean.’

White bathroom with wall and floor mosaic tiles, white freestanding bath, plants on open shelving

Vinyl flooring, Hebden Bridge Flooring Co (opens in new tab). Macrame wall hanging, made by Laura. Shelves, Ikea (opens in new tab). Towel in Moroccan basket, Laura Thomas (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

5. Add warmth to a white bathroom with beige tones

Although Laura and Andrew plan to eventually replace the bathroom, a mini makeover has given it a fresh new look. ‘We painted the bright red walls white, painted the silver bath feet and had the grubby marble stone floor levelled off before laying hexagon mosaic lino over the top,’ says Laura. ‘It’s so much softer and warmer underfoot now.’

White home office with cork pinboard, white desk, yellow and wood armchair and dryer stand used to dry prints

Chair recovered in Mark Hearld Hare fabric (opens in new tab). Desk, Ikea (opens in new tab). Wooden dryer, Lakeland (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

6. Use your walls to make a statement in a white home office


Kitchen floor restoration West Yorkshire Tile Doctor (opens in new tab)

Cork boards in Laura's attic office sit above her desk and feature some of her most recent art pieces, along with notes and mementos. The feature helps make an otherwise plain space feel full of interest.

Laura’s favourite item in this room is a chair that she grew up with. ‘My grandpa got four of them from a hotel in Ayreshire where he did the catering,’ she says. ‘I love the unusual shape but had the brown scratchy fabric reupholstered.’

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