White-Washed World: Making a Tudor Modern

LR-Before and after

In the Spring, I was approached by  a lovely couple that had purchased a historic home on Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights. Grand and stately, this corner Tudor was designed by well know industrial architects, Walker & Weeks. Designing iconic buildings such as Severance Hall and the Federal Reserve Building, Walker-Weeks is know for much of the architecture designed during Cleveland’s industrial revolution. Therefore, this home is special, loaded with tons of architecture detail – layers of crown molding, gorgeous stone and granite, structured gardens, and wrought iron moldings.

LR- Close up shot

It’s all in the details: tufting and a mirrored try, makes a cocktail ottoman functional

Pillowstwo sided color blocked pillows, makes a solid fabric special

My clients are young and appreciate the cleaner aesthetic of today. More modern, cleaner lines is what they requested. They said –“ the heavy wooden details could be a deal breaker to buying the house.” And my original reaction was “don’t paint it! “ But then I thought about it and what they wanted. Part of this job is listening, nudging out of a comfort zone, and then negotiating to a design that works for everyone. I need to stay true to my design principles, the structure of the home, but most importantly deliver what the client wants.

I researched, and thought. “Why can’t we paint it? If we do it right, it will look stunning!” Then one design day, I was speaking to the very British owners of Romo Fabrics and Wallcoverings (US Headquarters located right in Chagrin Falls). When I was discussing my inspiration with them, they said “We paint 900 year old moldings white, don’t worry about it!”

Wood work shot

local accessories from 78th Street Studio artists: Susie Fraiser and Michael Greenwald

So we chose a gorgeous color – Farrow and Ball Great White – which has a pink undertone. Perfect for entertaining spaces. Farrow and Ball also is a British company. The most beautiful paint colors hands down. Also, such high quality paint, it coats in one layer what other paint would take 2-3 to get close too. It’s more expensive, but worth it. You don’t want those wood grains popping through when you are painting woodwork white.

Also, a more modern look, painting the ceiling and moldings the same color (see Third Eye Blind- The Neglected Ceiling ). Just change the sheen to a glossier effect on the trim, it will pop the details, but unify the space.

DR- Close up shot

custom made window panels frame the dramatic gardens with Romo Fabrics

With dark ebony stained floors and white walls, ceiling and trim, the Living Room and Dining Room turned out fabulous. Comfortable but with functional furnishings for young children to jump on, and a more modern aesthetic – exactly what the client asked for. I have no doubt they will enjoy the spaces for many more years to come.

DR- Before and after

A word of caution…I still tell other clients – “No, don’t paint!” It truly depends on the space, the quality of wood, the design goals, and the client. So think twice before wielding the paintbrush!

This design installation will be featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in October, and on Cleveland.com. Stay tuned! 

Photography by: Linda Smith of Blulens Design

Leave a Comment