Homebuyers looking for all sorts of designer extras should keep an eye out for model homes when they go on the market. These decorated models in new neighborhoods are often loaded with features, says Atlanta interior designer Lisa Gabrielson. “A model home usually has all of the bells and whistles,” she explains. “The builder is selling homes based off of the beauty and innovation of the model, so it’s always a good house.”
For her clients, empty nesters who bought in the Lake Haven neighborhood of Milton, the model was lovely, but needed a little tweaking for their California-style taste. “They wanted a sleeker look, so first we covered the walls with shiplap (horizontal pine paneling once popular in barns and historic homes) and painted everything white,” explains Lisa.
“White rooms have made a huge comeback,” adds the designer, but understandably homeowners can be wary. Her clients were okay with white cotton duck upholstery, she recalls, but were a bit afraid to pull the trigger on all-white walls. “I assured them that this was the fastest way to achieve the West Coast look they craved, while making the biggest impact on the house,” says Lisa.
People often think that decorating with white equals boring, she adds, but the secret is to incorporate texture. “We added all sorts of texture: a stone fireplace, shiplap planks, chunky sisal rugs and fur pillows, to name a few,” says Lisa. Tonal variations are also important. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore Dover White, but the cabinetry is a creamier shade of white and the furniture is an even brighter white, which covers a spectrum of neutrals.
To embrace the all-white look, the homeowners were inspired to sell their previous furniture and start over with new pieces, so the designer mixed popular retail options — Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs — with some antiques for visual interest.
And as for the ever-present “will it show dirt” question regarding an all-white palette, Lisa offers several tips. Choosing white slipcovers enables fabrics to be washed. Similarly, she has non-slipcovered furniture coated with Scotchguard to provide a coating against grime. For the kitchen banquette stools, the designer covered them in Perennials fabric, an upscale indoor-outdoor material that can be wiped down.
This gorgeous Milton home is a testament to not being intimidated when decorating with white. Varying neutral shades and textures create a cool, casual look that is a welcome respite for guests and homeowners alike.
Interior designer and some accessories: Lisa Gabrielson
Photographer: Christina Wedge
Paint: Benjamin Moore
Decor and accessories: Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs, Scott Antique Markets
Fabrics: Perennials Fabrics, Schumacher
Want to redecorate but not sold on white? Check out our many stunning home features and decor stories sure to appeal to every taste!