Design at Altitude: Don’t shy away from white for your mountain home
Design at Altitude
Over the past few years, I’ve loved designing with whites. At first, it didn’t seem a natural fit for our mountain environment — so many homes have dark woods or even bold color and whites felt vaguely reminiscent of Miami or the beach. The more I see, and design, homes in whites, though, the more I love the look of clean lines and white on white. It feels contemporary, even in a traditional home. The color can transform a home because it’s a natural path to light.
Even though the days are shorter in the winter, we are lucky that the moon lights the outside as its beams sparkle off the snow. More clients are embracing the use of natural light, and I love using it in design.
I recently worked with clients in Wildridge who wanted to make the most of their large windows and unique floor plan. With three kids younger than 6, winters can be a long, indoor affair. The house receives a lot of natural light but is not flooded with sunlight, so lightening up the color palette made the house feel warmer, brighter and perfect for this young family.
The transformation started in the kitchen with a Calacatta Borghini marble slab. We created the rest of the design and color palette around the soft ivory marble slab that has a warm, gray vein running through it. I try to adhere to this tip: If you have a statement piece, then work it into your design; use it as a focal piece and as your inspiration. There’s a reason you love it, so go with it throughout the space. From the marble slab, we painted the walls a warm white, which made the space brighter, as well as more open — behold the transformative power of color!
We continued with the brightening and whitening throughout the open-concept house, using warm grays to contrast with the white. Grays, neutrals and whites can sometimes get a bad rap as being boring, but this home proves whites and neutral colors work together in an overall stunning way. The room really feels like a refuge or a retreat, a calming place for a family of five.
White may feel Counterintuitive
Choosing white might feel counterintuitive in the mountains. The tendency has been to cozy up with dark woods or deep hues, but the whites actually enhance our mountain homes. There are so many reasons for choosing whites and, of course, so many shades of white, from a creamy ivory to a stark white.
Obviously, whites brighten and lighten a home, which is especially important for some homes that are tucked into the mountainside and where winter feels like it drags on for a few extra months. If your home is a middle unit that doesn’t see a lot of sun, then I recommend taking the chance and decorating with white.
Homeowners also just want a clean slate, a place to display their fine art. You don’t want the art to fight with the background color, especially if there is a bold, colorful piece. Try a bold white or creamy ivory, depending on your aesthetic and the art.
Instead of relying only on color for bold changes, try whites. The contrast of white-on-white brings a different kind of cozy — it’s bright, cheerful and perfect for a snowy day.
Kellye O’Kelly is a senior designer at Slifer Designs who isn’t afraid of color or monochromatic design. She’s worked on many different projects, from East Coast to West Coast and right here at home in Vail.