Ditching the Obvious Created an All-White Living Room That Doesn’t Fall Flat
Hannah Godwin’s space is a crash course in the color.
Updated Oct 12, 2018 5:21 AM
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When Brooke Spreckman first toured Hannah Godwin and Dylan Barbour’s San Diego living room via FaceTime, she saw a blank box with a broken ceiling fan and a random mantel on the wall directing them where to put the TV. “We wanted the space to feel neutral and airy; no fuss and very calming,” says Spreckman, who runs her practice, Design Hutch, out of Los Angeles and did all the planning for the project remotely. The laid-back vibe they were going for translated to an all-white color palette—but creamy, soft, and subdued is easier said than done. “I thought, Okay, what do I need to do so not everything is super-flat?” recalls the designer.
First, Spreckman switched up the floor plan, removing the ugly mantel so the couple could place a screen on a smaller wall near the kitchen peninsula, and traded in the fan for a light fixture. (There are large bifold doors leading out to the backyard, so it’s easy to find in a breeze when needed.) Then she moved on to finding key pieces—a grounding rug, a cloudlike sectional—that would make the room feel less like a blank canvas and more lived-in. After all, it’s the first house the newly engaged couple, who met on ABC’s Bachelor in Paradise in 2019, has owned together. “For me, moving from Alabama to California felt so uprooting, so it’s nice to have a place to feel at home,” says Godwin. Ahead, tour the pair’s just-finished space (and learn all the dos and don’ts of decorating with white).
Create Texture From Scratch
“When you’re working in a monochromatic scheme, you want to pay attention to what layered looks you can add, in order to make everything interesting on its own,” explains Spreckman. Layer number one? Floor-to-ceiling curtains that extend beyond the windows (peep how they ripple across the wall, too). “It gives the space a cozy hotel lobby vibe,” she says. The fabric is mounted on simple tracks that made measuring a total breeze. “Sometimes when you’re doing a standard rod over the window, you never know where to place it or how long to make the fabric,” adds the designer. In this case Spreckman simply gave the company the exact distance measurement from the floor to the ceiling and the widths of the two exterior-facing walls.
Having an eye for tones and textures is also crucial. All the main players in the space vary in hue and upholstery: The sofa is Performance Linen, the ivory armchairs are nubby bouclé, and the grayish rug is a wool-knit mix. Spreckman took full advantage of the color spectrum by hanging two off-white abstract artworks commissioned by Kari Kroll.
Switch Up Your Silhouettes
While the sofa cushions on the 9-by-9-foot sectional are cushy and cloudlike, the piece features straight, modern arms. Providing a point of contrast was important to achieving a dynamic look, so the designer opted for two curvy swivel armchairs.
Soothe the Soul With Wood
Spreckman took a similar approach to the wood accents and furniture in the room, prioritizing a variety of species and stains. The leather-clad Saffron + Poe barstools feature teak legs, while the credenza and coffee table are both oak (the former dark, the latter light).
Don’t Rely on Brass
It’s true that brass is one of the best metals you can bring into a space to warm it up, but Spreckman steered clear of the obvious choice on this project. Too many golden tones would read as trendy, not timeless. “I wanted the materials to be incorporated a bit more seamlessly,” she says. So she did the unexpected: She added more white. The crisp pendant lamp over the coffee table and the two cone ones above the peninsula bring the palette full circle.
Wine drinkers need not worry: Both Spreckman and Godwin have low-key hacks for keeping white furniture white. For the designer, removable covers that can be handed off to the dry cleaner is crucial. For Godwin, tons of throw blankets help ease the fear of drips, spills, or marks. “I will say, I fall asleep multiple times a week on our couch,” says Godwin. With a few backup plans in place, she and Barbour can focus on actually relaxing—that is when they’re not busy wedding planning.
Photography by Victoria Gold