What do the Guggenheim (New York City), the coastal homes of Santorini Island (Greece), Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (Paris), the Space Needle (Seattle), and the Sydney Opera House all have in common? They’re all white! Not cream, not vanilla, not “earth tone” - they’re stark white. Each were constructed of different materials, but they all share the same end game. But why? Surely each architect was aware of color theory, with an endless assortment of colors at their disposal and whim. Why not select a bold, saturated orange or a lush, natural green? I believe the architects’ collective reasoning can be summed into three goals: iconography, timelessness, and reverence for the architecture itself.
Architects love white because it matches absolutely everything, it shows off the anatomy of a building without calling attention to the color itself, it repels solar heat gain, it reflects light better than any other color and allows natural light to travel deepest into the interior, and it nods to the history of architecture no matter how modern a design is. No other color can claim all those benefits together. White often carries a negative connotation for being too stark, too cold, too sterile. The truth is that it’s not the building’s fault. Often, the interiors of “boring white” buildings lack interest because the occupants lack style or the building lacks architectural rhythm or layers of texture. A stark white house simply begs its owners to showcase their lifestyle. That’s where a white home’s personality and warmth is found. Whether you accomplish that through bold furniture selections, colorful artwork, a hot car in the driveway, a 12’ surfboard hung on the wall, or lush landscaping, a white house isn’t an afterthought – it’s a bold, intentional move that shifts all the attention to the activities and personalities that dwell within. Would you design a white house?