Color Trends 2012 – Family-Friendly White Rooms!

White Room with black accents House to Home UK

Amy who subscribes to Re-Do it Design commented on my article about white rooms Color Trends 2011/2012 – 5 Ways To Make White Work, which was read by so many of you probably with much the same admiration one feels peering through the glass of a storefront on the miracle mile longingly at the object of your unattainable desire, ” I so love a white room, but I love my family more. :D “

She’s not alone, in either sentiment; even couples and singles with no children tend to feel this way. But I am here to challenge your color stereotypes, and assure you that where there is a will there’s a way.

You CAN have a WHITE family room, that does not force you to take the family out of the room – you just need to stretch your creativity and add some time to your budget to do it. Here’s How:

First order of business in any room or zone – function. Family rooms in any style or color palette have functions as varied by need as the family itself – but there are some common threads – storage, durability, accessibility, task zones, lighting, seating and entertainment.

Keep function in mind, and now focus on design and personalization – who is your family? What are they about? There are endless ways to express this, and not room to include even the tip of the iceberg here, so get inspired and makes some notes of your own ideas.

Display of whites – Corning Glass Museum

1) The first thing you need to remember is that there are ALLOT of different whites – the image above was taken with my iPhone which sadly has a hideous camera. The in-person exhibit shows a range of white from lavender to greens, blues, yellows, and pinks which are not evident when viewed separately. Mixing whites takes some skill, as does any limited palette. There are also degrees of white – sweeten with white to taste!

White, and whiter – House To Home Rooms

2) Surfaces are key to a low-maintenance white space – the glossier, the better. Glossy modern kitchen cabinets can be used in a family room for storage and easy-cleaning.

Family storage can come from re-purposed modern kitchen cabinetry – just include some wet-wipes in your glossy storage, and it will always shine like a dream!

The reason people fear white is the thing that makes it great for minimizing contagions and common bacteria – it shows dirt, creating an awareness of areas that might otherwise be over-looked. Further, glossy surfaces are very easy to clean. Just hand the kids some Windex put on the music and let them help!

3) White Floors are the bomb!

A great teen room with cottagey-white painted floors. image from House To Home, UK

Most traditionalists will look at you like you are clinically insane, and caution you as though you are taking up smoking against this option. But A-list designers have become icons from recognizing the distinction between pure risk and genius. Here is a great article about how to do painted floors correctly:

If you have cement floors, use a 2-part white epoxy and keep all the windows open. Also, request a 10% tint be added to the paint; a light sea foam green, icy blue, lavender or pink will be imperceptible to the eye, but will set the tone for the room.

4) Area Rugs – Protecting your white floor in high traffic areas is no different than your traditional wood flooring – area rugs add warmth, color and longevity to any floor. They clean easily, wear best, and add that color quotient to your white design formula. Choosing a rug with white or white on a cream or white floor is a sure thing:

A thomaspaul wool rug adds a dash of color to a bright white space

But…if you have young kids and your entertainment zone includes snacks, carpet tiles are your best friends.

Easy on, easy off, durable with easy replacement of individual tiles, they are a budget-friendly no-brainer for any family-friendly space. They also come in endless color combinations in every possible color palette.

white cottage feel – House to Home UK

5) White walls are key to that etherial white space. But what if you have toddlers or younger kids with ADHD?

I recommend this:

Rustoleum dry-erase paint – image from home depot

Family rooms should incorporate kids! Paint the walls or the lower wainscoting with Rust-Oleum dry-erase paint. I am endorsing this brand, because it really works – there are several brands that fall short.

Apply dry-erase paint to the walls, and again, keep some Windex or baby wipes close by – they clean anything in combination! At less than $25 per gallon, it’s easy on your budget and your design. Your other option is to paint flat white walls, and cover them with 2 coats of water-base polyurethane with a lambs-wool applicator. Do this is a humidity-free space only.

A family-friendly white room with some impromptu Christmas art – House To Home UK

Those of you savvy in the wily ways of toddlers are no doubt forming the obvious question, “ok, so what about when they draw on furniture, as well?”

Which bring us to #6) White furnishings – but not just ANY white furnishings. A family-friendly white room is no place for microfibers.

Camilla House Imports white vinyl sofa

a modern club sofa in white vinyl

Companies like Zuo Modern, Camilla House and Alphaville offer white vinyl furnishings in traditional (like the styling vinyl Chesterfield Sofa above) to more modern styles (see the modern club sofa, left). To see the difference between leather and vinyl you need only grab your child’s grape juice box and and pour it over both. Vinyl wipes clean, resists stain and endures all but cats, which can be said of most furnishings.

Glamorous White dining room – House to Home UK

7) Lighting – A variety of plastics can make your dining room as family friendly as it is glamorous. The golden triangle of glamor has to be mirrors, crystal, and white. A crystal chandelier in a family dining room? Why not? Crystal is out of reach, as are wall mirrors. Bringing up children amidst a well defined aesthetic helps them appreciate and respect their environment. They feel uplifted in a manner than they can’t adequately express, but feel all the same.

8) Carrera marble is white’s best friend. Whether in a kitchen, fireplace facade, shower surround or floor or a coffee table top carrera and white are a match made in heaven. If you have small kids however, that carrera coffee table can hurt if they fall when thundering past. High gloss rain-slicker vinyl is available in Joanne’s fabric for under $4 per yard – I used it once to create a soft headboard, and it is easy on the and the head in an upholstered bench that can serve as coffee table and extra seating.

9) Speaking of fireplaces, mantles are the perfect showcase for a white display. Use your imagination to define your style!

White mantle – House To Home UK

This creative take on white is easier than it may seem! Good fine motors comes in handy – prop a large LED flashlight on a chair below your display and trace a line with a mechanical pencil. Now paint it the gray of your choice. If you want to have some real fun, take some clear lacquer, mix in fine silver glitter and apply it over the gray!

9) Organize and displayOpen shelves or built ins do triple duty – organize and display your stuff and your style, while keeping it stylishly out of reach to smaller family members.

Open shelves and an accent chair communicate color – House To Home UK

Table top or floating shelf displays are a great way to add that magazine feel to a white space.