White walls: not trendy, but useful

RITA ST.CLAIR

November 11, 1990|By RITA ST.CLAIR

White is no longer a particularly popular wall color, as reflected in the latest trends in interior design. Many people have come to the conclusion -- an accurate one -- that white has been used so often as a background color that it's become a bit of a bore.

At the same time, however, I think it's silly to make decisions about an interior solely in accordance with what happens to be in or out at a given moment. In the case of white walls the fact remains that no other color works so well as a backdrop for objects or other colors. I'm therefore very cautious in my choice of wall colors, and I certainly don't base my selection exclusively on the current trend.

I suspect, in fact, that white's fall from favor results in part from a misunderstanding of its properties. Pure white -- if there really is such a thing -- is considered by many to be a lack of color. Depending on the quality and intensity of a room's re

flective light, however, white can take on a distinctive hue as it picks up surrounding colors. This effect is heightened when the white paint used on a wall is of a high or even a medium gloss.

A textured wall painted in a flat white can also produce a very pleasing effect, especially in conjunction with dark wood tones and fabricsdone in crisp colors. That's the sort of combination frequently seen in Mediterranean interiors.

Here's a good example of how shiny white ceramic served as the most important ingredient in a bathroom renovation.

The decorative makeover shown in the photo makes use of elements typically found in the country homes. Notice, for example, the charming combination of tiles and the coordinated sink, faucets and bathroom accessories. The raised floral designs on the fixtures and tiles are rendered in cobalt blue against a bright white background. All these elements are from Kohler's new "Reveries" collection. I can't imagine this type of look being achieved with pastel walls or with dramatically dark surfaces.

The message this model is meant to convey is that an interior should be assembled with one's own preferences in mind -- not someone else's notion of what's fashionable.

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