Decorate

5 secrets to creating an all-white interior

Interior decorator Lynda Gardener's guide to getting white right.
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Interiors with clashing colours and patterns may be a rising trend, but many of us remain drawn to a calming environment created by an all-white interior. But what makes it work? Decorating in all white has been a passion of interior decorator, stylist, author and boutique accommodation owner Lynda Gardener for as long as she can remember. 

Her inimitable eye has allowed her to add warmth and dimension to rooms with an all white interior palette by incorporating the textures of faded architecture, paint finishes, fabrics, collected pieces and indoor plants. It’s a style that is genius in its simplicity, which can give the impression that it’s easy to replicate. But the challenge of successfully pulling it off cannot be overestimated! 

We spoke to Lynda to find out what inspires her interior decorating style and the secrets to designing an all-white room.

1. Select the right white

Selecting the right colour to become the ‘blank canvas’ is incredibly important, says Lynda. “I absolutely love white, but you can get very confused with whites once you start looking. It’s tormenting! Is it too creamy? Too white? Too much of a blue white?” 

Lynda is so specific about white paint that she collaborated with Bauwerk Colour, a Perth-based paint company, to create her very own shade of white called ‘Bleached White’. The colour, which is made using all-natural, non-toxic ingredients, is unique in that it doesn’t contain any colour undertones. Its absolute neutrality means it can easily be paired with either warm or cool decorative elements. 

White bedroom in a home designed by Lynda Gardener
By making all of the elements in this bedroom white, Lynda highlights the architectural features of the space, including the wooden ceiling beams. (Credit: Image: Airbnb)

2. Add interest with art

Art is a powerful tool that Lynda uses to prevent an all-white room from falling flat. One of her favourite places to source black-and-white photography is Via Martine

“Martine is a wonderful photographer who I found by chance on Instagram, which is, of course, where we all find so many great people, products and stories,” says Lynda. “I’ve framed quite a few for The Apartment in St Kilda. I just love what she does. It’s so beautiful and so simple and quite striking. I usually mix her work up with collections of old and new art, which I tend to do with all my interiors.”

Lynda is also a big fan of the work of photographer Kara Rosenlund. “I love everything about travel photographer Kara’s work,” she says. “Kara is bubbly and friendly and we clicked instantly. I enjoy supporting like-minded people.” 

All white kitchen at The White Room Studio by Lynda Gardener
An oversized artwork creates interest in the all-white kitchen at The White Room Studio, a boutique holiday home designed by Lynda. (Credit: Image: Airbnb)

3. Mix old with new

A white room filled with all-new, glossy furniture can make a space feel sterile – which is not the aim of the game. Lynda loves mixing old pieces with new ones to create a room that is both welcoming and worn-in. 

While you can spend time trawling vintage and second hand shops in search of one-of-a-kind pieces, Lynda says that shopping at stores with an old meets new ethos is a great way to save time. Scout House in St Kilda is her go-to for curated homewares. 

“I’ve known the owner, Orlando, for a long time. He’s very clever at mixing old with new (clearly something I do myself). His aesthetic is absolute perfection. He collects from markets around the world for Scout House. It’s one of those stores where you walk in and always find something beautiful to take home. I get excited as soon as I walk in the door,” says Lynda.

 

Coastal style entryway at a holiday home designed by Lynda Gardener
Mixing old and new elements is part of Lynda’s signature style. (Credit: Image: Airbnb)

4. Texture, texture, texture

Study Lynda’s work and you’ll see another important element at play: texture. Hardwood floors are layered with high-pile rugs. Beds are made with soft linen and wool blankets. A weathered timber dining table might be placed right next to a shiny, stainless steel kitchen bench. 

When styling a bathroom, she might place a gilded frame above polished chrome fixtures. She has a knack for placing unexpected pieces together to make a room look put-together in a relaxed way. The saying goes ‘opposites attract’ and it’s certainly true when it comes to decorating an all-white space.

All white bathroom designed by Lynda Gardener
Textured elements make the bathroom at Room + Board a standout. (Credit: Image: Airbnb)

5. Create depth with earthy neutrals 

At first glance, many of the spaces Lynda has created over the years appear all white, but look closer and you’ll notice that she actually does use colour, albeit in a subtle, almost undetectable, way.

There will almost always be some element – whether it be throw cushions, a towel, a statement piece of furniture, or even kitchen cabinetry – in an earthy, neutral tone to ground the space and prevent it from feeling washed out. 

Bauwerk Colour even created the khaki green shade ‘General’ in honour of Lynda’s signature style. 

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For more interior inspiration from Lynda Gardener, pick up a copy of her book Curate: Inspiration for an Individual Home, $40.75 (hardcover). Experience her design in the flesh by visiting boutique accommodation venues: The White Room – Studio, The Estate Trentham and Room + Board.

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