A surprising rule for decorating (sorry, would-be Scandinavians).

It’s impossible nowadays to browse any interior design site or magazine without coming across a room that looks something like this:

(image via apartmenttherapy)

You know: blinding light, pristine white walls, angular wooden furniture, lots of plants and tasteful textiles. Scandinavian interiors are everywhere, and they look stunning. I’ve been tempted myself to copy the look in my own apartment and have spent hours browsing shades of white paint.

(sidenote: WHY ARE THERE SO MANY SHADES OF WHITE?!?!? I know, I know, it’s because lighting can create gray or blue or burnt or yellow undertones so they have to make something for everyone, but sheesh, it’s exhausting.)

Except there’s just one problem. Emily Henderson, interior designer and my spirit animal, says: don’t fall for it.

Design Mistakes_Emily Henderson_painting a small or dark room white_Header revised 1

(image via stylebyemilyhenderson)

Hear that? It’s the sound of a million would-be Scandinavian hearts dropping.

Interiors Goddess Ms. Henderson has a point: if your space doesn’t get flooded with natural light, those white walls are going to come across as dirty, dull, and even, somehow, cheap.

To liven up a small or dark room, she suggests choosing a more versatile neutral: think pale blue-gray or greige (greyish beige).

For more pictures of how small white rooms can fall flat, head over to her site. In the meantime, I’ll be here obsessing about how many shades of greige there are…


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