March 17, 2017

Letters From A: Decorating With White

 

I hate decorating.  I hate picking paint colors, buying furniture, choosing fabrics (ha – I don’t actually know what one would do with fabrics but this seems to be a thing with interior people), and having too many….erm…decorative objects makes me break out in hives.  “TOO MANY THINGS TO DUST!” said my mother once and yes.  AGREED.

Couple my….lack of passion for the topic with the very real fact that I am Not Very Good At This and you end up with a house full of Stuff That Does Not Go, coupled with a few large pieces of Stuff That Doesn’t Fit, usually co-located with at least one Piece From a Wishful Thinking Phase, and rounded out nicely with Stuff I Had in College.

Happily, I also have…an A.  (You may remember her from here:  Am I Too Old or Too Short For These Jeans?)

My dear friend A is one of those magical creatures who seems to need no sleep, has boundless energy, and can see 3-D scale models in her head of any room she designs. She’s the kind of friend who, on a Friday night, if you happen to say, “I wonder if I should move the couch over he–” is already on her feet, moving the couch, chair, bookshelf, and swapping out the rug for one she happens to remember seeing once in your basement.  And somehow…despite no shortage of initial arguing (usually by me)….it always looks a million times better when A is done.

She’s like a fairy godmother of home design.

No, scratch that.  She’s like the…..Energizer Bunny of home design.  A fairy godmother would just wave a magic wand and POOF.  Done.  She wouldn’t text you at odd hours of the night telling you that she found THE EXACT NIGHTSTAND for your bedroom and oh-by-the-way 5 new lighting fixtures were added to the Pinterest board she created for your playroom and when you (finally) log on to Pinterest to look…you realize that she’s also created Pinterest boards for alllll of your friends who she is also simultaneously helping.  With all of their rooms.  In all of their houses.

(If you guys want to follow A on Pinterest, you are in for a treat.  She finds killer stuff. )

But one of the many reasons I love A so dearly, is not for her mad home design skills.  It’s for her general outlook on life, her ability to…shine, so brightly -even through all of life’s shit (and she has more than her fair share), yet somehow expand that glow to everyone around her.  She’s the kind of girl who truly lights up a room, and the whole world is better because A is in it.

One of A’s pet projects lately is helping Mike and I finish our renovations.  This has involved many bottles of wine, Pinterest board after Pinterest board, and, when I’m being more stubborn than usual……A’s shenanigans.  She’s held one-act plays in my living room over coffee tables, written an Ode To My Powder Room, and…..the weekly emails.  Which are actually my favorite part.

Almost every week, A has started writing letters about whatever topic we’ve been discussing, filled with all kinds of fun home decor inspiration, but also a little dose of real life.  Of her.  Of her indefatigable optimism, her charm, her East-Coast, Philly-girl nonsense.

I’ve been getting so much joy out of these letters that I asked A if I could share them with you.

Letters From A

White.  S, for goodness sake, where on earth is the WHITE???  I love these East Coast transitions to spring where we wear shorts one day and hats and gloves the next…but honestly, it never feels like winter happened until we get pounded with snow.  Tons and tons of fluffy white snow!!!  Shut the city down.  Sleep in late.  Drink cocoa.  Build a snowman.  Have a snowball fight.  Sled the Art Museum steps.  And ski on real, actual snow.  I fell asleep last night dreaming of white.  Winter Storm Stella, please bring the white!!!

Did you see those first few fluffy Philadelphia snowflakes falling?  It’s pure magic – that moment that pauses around them. Sometimes we just need moments of of that kind of peace and calm.  All of us.

I woke-up, saw that dusting of white snow on the sidewalks and naturally wondered….what exactly is a White Sale?  (This was my avoidance-thought to:  Shoveling.  Pre or post-coffee??)

I KNOW what a White Sale is.  But where did that term come from and why aren’t they all about white? All white home stuff is so fun!!!  Wiki that:

Snow day fun fact from your favorite East Coast, Philly Native, White Homegoods Loving, Peace and Calm Channelling Girlfriend who is here to bring you back from your post-holiday-mid school year-it’s not spring time yet and we all have cabin fever-crazy to finish finding mostly-white furniture.  We can’t control the white storm outside, but we sure can make one inside!!!  All in avoidance of said shoveling.

White Sale” was coined by John Wanamaker, in Philadelphia in 1878!

Oh my gosh S, I wish Wanamaker’s was still what it was when I was a kid.  You would have LOVED it!!!  It was so glamorously grande! Growing-up, it was Philadelphia’s architecturally beautiful, big deal, big city department store.  It was a ‘thing’ for sure.  White marble floors, white stone walls, the  displays were just so perfectly elegant and the scale was just larger than life.  We’d dress-up and go with our Grandmom Daly and make a day of it.  Clothing on floor after floor, accessories on the next,  home goods way up high.  Professional sales people, with perfect manners and smiles, dressed to the nines, positioned just-so.  Toys had an entire floor where a respectful, well-behaved child could be lost for hours.  And there was a fabulous restaurant where we’d have tea set properly and treats and overlook the giant organ in the center hall where some person you couldn’t ever actually see would magically make music every so often.  East Coast circa 1970 something.  This was how we “did.”  There was something so pure and simple about the giant complexity of it.  I miss Wanamaker’s.  I miss my Grandmom.  I miss the magic of childhood.  I miss the whole thing of it.  We almost never actually bought anything.  But spending a day ‘shopping’ there with her, was just such a gift!  And this my sweet friend, was a full fifty percent of the smile on my face when you took me to Getz’s in Marquette and we had Hudson Bay blankets in childhood experience memory common-and that’s about all!  East Coast versus Mid West.  We both win.

And now, three kids, school, homework, after-school activities, work, three class-parentings, three boards, and full-on social-central non-stop (also adult-friendly) kid-party-house, plus all that adulting everyday nonsense we’re all subject to…you know what calms me?

White home goods.

You can wipe down the white leather, and you can wash, dish soap, oxy, and scrub all the craziness out of the rest of it.  And yes, sometimes desperate times call for a little bleach.  White grounds the whole  home situation.  It doesn’t get old.  It doesn’t distract the eye.  It doesn’t take up more attention than it deserves.  It’s the best base ever.  In a house full of all all the colorful and crazy accoutrements of active city living with little kids, friendship and love, the white everywhere and everything is the key to calm at home.

I just touched up a whole house of Super White walls.  It’s so peaceful in here.  White walls can always be scrubbed with a magic eraser.  By children even for fun!  They are easy to touch up.  And they are an awesome base for fun pops of color everywhere else!  It’s just so refreshing walking into clean white walls everywhere: they amplify the sunlight, and you get to take those nice, clean, deep calm breaths every time you walk in and appreciate them!

White:  the easiest, most cost-efficient way to paint an entire house.

B-oring you say?  Shush.  Walls in flat finish and the wood and trim and details in high gloss.

The painter will say no.  Do it anyway.  Tres chic.

White, light-touch, top-down, bottom-up honeycomb shades that disappear right into those high-gloss-white window frames you just did.  Again, whole house.  Go for it.  They work so well at both keeping light out and letting it in.  Black-out white shades in the bedrooms.  Let a little light shine through but keep the privacy everywhere else.  Window treatments done.  White.  And Well.  Clean and cost and energy efficient too.  You can add more to them later.  Not now.  For now, enjoy the white.

White art.  When you can create beauty from layering white, it’s just breathtaking.  More on that later.

White for fun, like this:  white foosball table of my dreams.  And for this in white do I swoon.  I could go on, but let’s be real.  Here’s the real list of 100 WHITE Dwelling items of our desire:


And, of course, white wine, oui?

Are you with me?

John Wanamaker was a genius.  White is Brilliant.  And there’s a design purist in me that just can’t get enough of it.

Or maybe that’s the crazy mom in me working so hard to surround us all in genuine actual calm and peace from a home goods perspective, at least.  And in these great pieces and this moment, I’ve found it.

Done.  Time to get back to the crazy.  Time to go play in wet snow.  Time to shovel.

I love you.  Peace and calm.  A

By March 17, 2017 31 No tags Permalink
31 Comments
  • Christy Hartman
    March 17, 2017

    Love, love, LOVE everything about this. I thought I was the only crazy mom of a small children who wanted everything white. It IS really calming amidst all the chaos.
    But I will address the white elephant in the room (sorry). You do have to think about cleaning and avoiding dinginess BEFORE you buy; as long as you make smart choices it’s not any harder to clean. My favorite tactics for this are if you want something white that isn’t easy to wipe (or Magic Eraser), like a cabinet, table, or wall, buy something easy to clean or replace. This is where Flor tiles and Home Reserve Sofas come in. SO easy to clean. I made a huge rug with various white textures of Flor tiles. And I have two of the home reserve sofas. You can toss the covers in the wash and easily replace every single piece of this thing, even the arms and back. They’re not the most comfortable sofas in the world but it’s a trade off at this point in our lives.
    The only items in the list above that I would hesitate on are some of the intricate lighting fixtures, depending on the material, those might start to look dingy and be hard to clean over time, and the really poofy, lambswool type fabrics are hard to clean (especially if you have pets).
    I LOVE everything about this post, it’s so nice to see someone else who thinks like me! Well, other than the Scandinavians 🙂

    • Amanda Rogers
      March 18, 2017

      Christy! Thank you for this! I’m in love with A’s letter and the *idea* of all white all the time, but the maintenance factor is what gives me pause. (The amount of time I spend magic erasering the white kitchen cabinets and wainscoting/woodwork and stair risers borders on ridiculous) But these tips make it livable!! You warm my practical little heart. Xxoo

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      Love, Love, LOVE the super sweet comments and solid cleaning advice~ thank you so much for both!

  • Kate
    March 17, 2017

    OMG. A, will you please be my friend, too ?!?

    • Amanda Rogers
      March 18, 2017

      Haha, Kate! Was just going to ask if she’s available for long-distance bestie relationships, too. 😉

      • a
        March 20, 2017

        long dist are some of my favs. absolutely. xo

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      of course Kate. done. xo a

  • Annie
    March 17, 2017

    So white is great…..but what is THE color that A chooses when painting walls,trim,etc? Is it Super White or is there another that deserves all the love??

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      Benjamin Super White. Always. Can’t help it. xo

  • Lindsay-Jean
    March 17, 2017

    Love this! More from A please!

    • Lori
      March 18, 2017

      Yes !! Please !!!

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      feeling the love. thank you for it! plenty more to share, always! xo

  • Allison
    March 17, 2017

    Wow. She really IS a genius! LOVE her.

    • Lori
      March 18, 2017

      I second this !

      • a
        March 20, 2017

        that’s gigantically generous. but i’ll bask in it for a hot minute before some beautiful sweet child pointedly points out my next (few) non-genius moves. xo

  • Tanaya Mankad
    March 17, 2017

    This makes me happy. Recently we remodeled our kitchen and the walls were finished when I was away on a long weekend. My contractor texted me, “what color should I paint it all?”, and I, in my disgust in having to deal with PAINT COLOR on top of all the other crap that comes with remodeling, just said, “White. Whatever, just white.” He used BM Super White! We both laughed at my total lack of subtlety when it was all done, but it’s awesome and bright and no one knows it’s not “Tampa Sands” or “Persian Cat” or whatever the designers are calling white these days. 🙂

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      sometimes…actually lots of times…if you get just the right one…those contractor people are on point!!! it’s at least always worth asking them what they would do when they ask you what you want to do…#learningop #hoorayforsuperwhite

  • Bethany
    March 17, 2017

    So I really like the look of bright white walls, however, I have a problem. All the trim and ceilings in my house are a cream color (swiss coffee in Behr paint). I do not want to repaint the trim and ceilings, but I think it would look dingy next to bright white walls. Has anyone tried this? Could it work? We’re actually thinking of painting our kitchen this month but I’m wondering if I could get the same bright clean effect if I just painted the walls the same color as the trim or if cream doesn’t look quite as fresh as bright white. Anyone care to weigh in?

    • Holly
      March 17, 2017

      I’m just a random internet person you don’t know (obviously) but IMHO white would not look good next to cream. What about a color just a shade darker of the cream?

    • Laura Jansen
      March 17, 2017

      What if you went with a white in between your trim color and an actual white? I spent forever deciding upon the white for our walls and matched it to the trim which is fairly white, but not bright bright white. Just a thought! I wound up going with Snow Bound from Sherwin Williams and am really happy. I don’t mind white and cream together, but wouldn’t aim for the truest white. Hope I’m making sense!

    • Amanda Rogers
      March 18, 2017

      Hi Bethany – I think it also could work with a grayish/cool white with a blue undertone for contrast – kind of like in a glass of straight from the cow milk where the heavy cream rises to the top and the skim milk underneath is a blueish grayish white? Not a dairy fan? Check out this pinterest image for a better visual – very Swedish country/antique cool but fresh https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/4f/7d/be/4f7dbef9f97a53b31947b960a36709c6.jpg

      • Lori
        March 20, 2017

        Yes ! I was just going to say, in my house it’s the opposite, the walls are cream and the trim is white! And while I want to paint it all white because I love white, the cream with the white looks good too !

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      want to have some fun??? send us a fews pics at themomedit@gmail.com and we’ll brainstorm a few (thousand) ideas. we love nothing more than a challenge!!! there are so many ways to make that work, but let’s figure a few great options that make you feel excited! there are lots of ways to get to white, and even more to get to happy- we’ll get there. xo

  • Ali Stevens
    March 17, 2017

    I love this. I love your description of A! I used to work for a lady like this, moved furniture all the time, pulled random pieces from nowhere, did magic with pillows, and made your space look 1000% better than you ever could! Also, thank you for more or less describing me as a Home Stylist. I’m infinitely relieved to find we’re not the only pushing-40’s who are still “trying” to get rid of College Stuff. POSTER FRAMES? Really? We’ve moved these HOW MANY TIMES? ;-D

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      no knocking those college poster frames…they are almost vintage…we can work that in. for sure. xo

  • Patricia Shepard
    March 17, 2017

    LOVE THIS! More, please! Also — I caught on to this white thing from a mom friend of mine (also A) and it’s life changing. Peace & calm, indeed.

    • a
      March 20, 2017

      the best kind of clean contagious. xo

  • Lori
    March 18, 2017

    I LOVE this so much. So so so much. I have a friend who’s house is white like this, and it’s amazing. Thank you for all the brilliant ideas for what to buy and how to use the pieces !!!

  • a
    March 20, 2017

    beyond my pleasure. thank you for the sweet kind words!

  • Maggie
    April 28, 2017

    A needs to contribute to this blog STAT. This is one of the greatest things I have read in a while (and I have a huge stack of New Yorkers sitting at my feet). I am also insanely jealous that you have such a sweet friend living in your city that connects with you like this. Treasure her.

    • Annmarie Naples
      May 12, 2017

      Maggie: I needed a kick in the tush. And you, sweet woman, delivered a swift, loving, and effective one. So thank you. Genuinely and gigantically. I’m going to try. For sure. To write more. And on a personal note, to read more Yet, I find that when you get far enough behind on those New Yorkers…they make a lovely and perfectly functional nightstand. No joke. #bothsidesofmybed xoxo

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