For Dominique Gebru, narrow hallways and an awkward floor plan weren’t enough to dissuade her from renting her Washington, D.C. apartment — it was the paint. “It honestly looked scary when I first walked through; I almost didn’t rent it,” she said. “The walls were painted this dark gray color, and it was just really grim.”
Fortunately, the creative behind @dommdotcom was able to look past the gloomy facade and sign on the dotted line for the railroad-style apartment. Within nine months, she transformed the rental into a perfectly lived-in home, thanks in part to our warm white paint color, Whipped, and plenty of locally-sourced vintage pieces.
“Even my partner, who claims to have no opinion on this kind of stuff, was like, ‘Wow, it feels so bright in here, I can’t believe we ever worried about it being too dark,’” she shares. “I was like, ‘I really think it’s the paint!’ It gave us the clean look we desperately needed.” Below, find her tips for decorating with white walls and breathing new life into a small rental.
Prioritize Meaningful Pieces
While Dominique certainly looked to Pinterest for design inspiration, she didn’t let picture-perfect imagery dictate her vision. “I think it’s best to use your aspirational images as a guide, and pepper in pieces that really speak to who you are,” she explains. Her DIY library, impressive plant collection, and vintage furniture finds are perfect examples. “Our home is full of storied objects that are meaningful to us, and they really helped create that ‘lived-in’ feel.”
Maximize a Small Space by Decorating With White Walls
In addition to thoughtfully using every inch of the 500-square-foot apartment, Gebru made the most of her space by creatively decorating with white walls. “When lacking floor space, always go up,” she shares. “The dining room gallery wall, living room library, and DIY bedroom shelf really made the space feel more finished and provided much-needed storage.”
Leave Room for Design Pivots
Despite thorough planning, Gebru changed the design many times over. “I was going for minimal, but I ended up with something more eclectic,” she explains. “I love the way it turned out, but deviating from my original plan was stressful.” Looking back, she believes that flexibility is necessary, especially when working with a small space. “It’s okay if something you had your heart set on isn’t going to work out,” she notes. “I changed the dining room table, living room layout, overall aesthetic, and I still want to change the couch.”
Don’t Rush the Process
To that end, Gebru also suggests taking your time when designing a home. “I had each room planned out to a tee before we even moved in — I literally made a deck,” she laughs. “But if I could do it all over, I’d definitely live in the space for a while and see what feels right. Realizing that my design vision was all wrong was the most challenging part, and it could have been avoided had I slowed down.”
Let Your Accessories Shine
When concepting a design, allow your most vibrant, must-have pieces dictate the color scheme. “You don’t want a space to look cluttered; you want it to look cozy,” explains Gebru. “I made sure to consider the colors and textures of our pieces before landing on a paint shade. Whipped really created the clean slate we needed to let our pieces shine.”
Related: Ready to start decorating with white walls? Read Our Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best White Paint.
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