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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.’
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.’
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.’
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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