Editor’s Note: The idea of purchasing and renovating a home is a dream that many carry, but few of us stop to consider the complications and complexities of the process until we are already knee-deep in drywall debris. Lisa Przystup, a writer, florist, and frequent contributor to Front + Main has been kind enough to share her journey of home ownership with us. Check out the first installment here. Enjoy!

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine

I have nurtured and fostered the dream of white floors ever since I saw a photo in Domino Magazine of a beautiful, sparse, hard candy shell shellacked beauty of a horizontal plane. I loved the way it acted as an unfettered canvas, giving furniture room to breathe and asking your eye to appreciate the lines of each object in the room. I kvelled over the clean simplicity of it all and the way it instantly elevated even the most unremarkable pieces of furniture. It felt like the interior decoration equivalent of a deep breath.

Over the years, I fed this dream with screen shots of beautiful homes, living vicariously through homeowner’s brushstrokes. I was (am) a renter, which means that while I could paint walls and have my way with other aesthetic choices I made within the four walls of my apartment, painting the floors was an impossibility. So, when we finally closed on this house, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. White walls, white floors, white out. Yes, I was aware of the slight impracticality of living with and maintaining white floors in upstate New York, much like I am aware of the disastrous consequences of a perm but, well, that doesn’t stop me from wanting one. After a brief moment of hesitation—one that many people may feel as they stand on the precipice of getting exactly what they want—my husband and I pulled the trigger.

BEFORE

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

Given the fact that we were on a major budget and the fact that nine times out of ten, if we can do something ourselves, we will, our first inclination was to tackle painting the interior of our new home ourselves. BUT we decided what the heck, we’d treat ourselves because we never do and we’d hire a painter. The idea of walking into a newly painted home, top-to-bottom and all ours felt so indulgent and special.

But first: we had to settle on a white. And not just white for the floors but white for the walls, and the trim, and the wainscoting, and the baseboards and which white would work best with this other white and do we want a warm white or a cool white or a warm/cool white or a cool/warm white and how white is too white?

Should you ever find yourself with the opportunity to torment your worst enemy, I highly suggest sitting him or her in a room at a table with nothing but white paint samples and force them to choose.

$100 in paint samples, three arguments, and many bottles of wine later, we had decided: Sherwin Williams Extra White in high gloss epoxy acrylic for the floors and semigloss for trim and wainscoting. For the basement and bedroom doors, we chose Tricorn Black in eggshell. For the downstairs middle room and smallest upstairs bedroom, Egret White in eggshell.

We met with a local painter, one that Jonathon had picked after hours of extensive research and agreed on a date and timeline, of which the finish line was Thanksgiving weekend. We had a vision of hosting a small group of friends for a warm intimate dinner, a christening of sorts for our new home and an opportunity to showcase our newly shellacked floors. I imagined the “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” of our friends as they drank in the wonder of it all.

In hindsight, I should have seen that choosing Thanksgiving as a deadline was a recipe for disaster. It’s a very long story, but in the end there was a “miscommunication” with our painter, we were forced between a rock and a hard place and only the floors and ceilings were finished (barely) in time for Thanksgiving. The fumes from the heavy duty floor paint were enough to warrant parental concern from our friends who were going to be joining us with their babies and we ended up having Thanksgiving dinner alone. Best laid plans.

BUT the white was everything I wanted it to be. Clean and bright, with just the right amount of gloss. The sort of gloss that makes you want to slide across it in socks and an oversized white button down. It instantly brightened all the rooms and was every bit as gratifying as I thought they would be.

We decided to tackle painting the rest of the house ourselves, which placed us firmly back at square one in the very familiar position of roller in hand, paint in hair, and the endless, taunting blue of painters tape playing tricks on our eyes BUT: I had my white floors. And as I type this we. are. still. painting.

Stay tuned for other painting updates and challenges!

AFTER

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

west elm - On Choosing The Right White Paint for Your Walls + Floors

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