White and Cream; The New Trend Taking Over Your Neighbourhood

Shhhhh. . . . don’t tell anyone, but I’m starting to think beige is actually not back.  Not for wall colours anyway.

Cream, yes.

Definitely white (and when I say white I mean art gallery white).

Beige, no.

My Spring workshop season is in full swing. And recently, Terreeia and I (in our travels) drove around a lovely neighbourhood where I saw at least 6 or 7 new builds.

Every. Single. One. Was White or Cream.

With Black Windows (the house on the right had black windows all around the rest of the house).

The end.

When I was discussing this with Tricia (my senior colour designer) I mentioned that I wished I’d started taking photos sooner once I noticed that the 6th or 7th new build was identical. She replied “Well you can’t notice the pattern until you notice the pattern”.

Oh. Well that’s a smart observation isn’t it, haha.

It got me to thinking. It makes sense that white (or cream) interiors and exteriors are such a huge trend.

The colour pendulum had to swing all the way back to white

Because we’ve been adding colour to the white walls our parents or grandparents had for 30-40 years now.

The pendulum eventually had to come back to white because it felt the most current.

The brown trend came along (right after the sage green trend of the 90s which was earthy) and everything went even earthier, faux finished and very BROWN.

Then the grey trend arrived and we cooled it all down and added brighter, happier, cleaner colours.

Then. . . halfway through the grey trend when the oval-back french chair (upholstered in grey linen) trickled down to every nearby big box store for the bargain price of around $199 (so much that I had even started calling it the Parisian grey trend), the farmhouse/shiplap look started to overtake it. And we know exactly who to blame for this 😉

In the last year, suddenly everyone I speak to (who is designing a new build) is doing ‘the farmhouse look’ with black windows and a stark white exterior.

One of my friends, when discussing the plans for her new build, justified her love for this look by saying “Maria, our house IS in the country, so it will be a FARMHOUSE anyway”.


Hey, there’s nothing wrong with trends as long as you don’t overdo the whole thing.

I write these posts to rein you in so you don’t just close your eyes and continue to say BLACK or WHITE  or GREY when faced with yet another colour decision.

And can we talk about black for a moment since it’s suddenly being just as heavily overused as white?

It’s like white is the new residential exterior colour and black is commercial.

Photo by Maria Killam

Kelly green looks amazing with black. If you’re going to just go black-on-black, this is the way to make it look good (above).

But let’s be clear, this is the best photo I got from this black-on-black commercial building. Overall the look was bleak and overwhelming.

And what about this new restaurant? Not so much. I’m depressed just looking at it.

This black exterior trend might be much worse than when grey hit mainstream and I wrote about it in 2011 being used in commercial buildings here.

And one more thing, to add on to the post I wrote about black windows here.

Check out this house and how the windows were covered AFTER the homeowner realized they were not going to hang drapes everywhere, nor did they want to hang black 2″ shutters or blinds either.

Photo by Maria Killam

Over to you my lovelies, are you noticing this same trend? If anyone actually has painted their walls beige, please post the exact colour in the comments below! That will help everyone.

Please note, I am not FOR or AGAINST any trend. There’s NOTHING WRONG with brown, black, grey, white or cream, it’ the OVERUSE of any of these neutrals when they become the TRENDY neutral that SCREAMS “I just decorated or built my house in the ______ trend!”

PS. Here’s the poll I did yesterday on my insta stories.

Part of colour confidence comes from understanding trends and where they are going in your neighbourhood! That’s a big part of the conversation when you’re selling the right colour to your clients.

Learn how to choose the right colour and sell the right colour this Spring! San Francisco starts this Monday, and then Houston and New Jersey in May!

Register here.

Related posts:

What’s next after the Grey Trend?

Trend Alert: All Black and All White Exteriors

Are Black Windows the Best Choice for Your New Build?



leave aREPLY

  1. I love your blog, Maria, and it would have made life much easier if I had purchased your e-books before we did some renovations on our townhouse on the Big Island of Hawaii! I do see a lot of light grey, white and pebble/sand tones lately here. My husband absolutely hates grey 🙂 so for our place I tried to blend with the orangey, reddish tones of the hard surfaces. I chose Benjamin Moore Blanched Almond for the walls. It’s close to Stonehouse, but with just a bit more orange undertone. Simply White trim. Next up is the kitchen in the great room. Not sure if I’ll go with cream colored cabinets or soft wood tones. Right now they are too dark and reddish for my liking. The granite is going too.

    • My house in Kona has Simply White ceilings and Acadia White walls (formerly called Ivory). It faces the ocean and looks awesome.

  2. Four years ago I had my living, dining and kitchen areas painted BM Hush. We get light from windows on the south and north walls – we get light in the morning from an adjacent bedroom and in the afternoon from a door to our back deck. I truly love the color. It feels very inviting. My painter at the time told me that everyone was painting everything white – I told him I know – as I knew I was doing what I wanted and felt right to me. This is my first purchased home and I had been living with all white walls in rental homes for the past 20 years – I had all ready been there done that.

  3. We have a mix of beige, taupe and gray. Benjamin moore’s Litchfield Gray, Collingwood, and Shaker Beige in bathrooms. Lots of taupe, peach and pink beige tile throughout the house, so it is difficult to be current.

  4. Patricia from California

    Maria, you made my day. I am in the process of finishing a complete redo of my house. The walls and finishes are mostly white, cream, and ivory. I am thrilled with how it looks.

    Even though I took your class, I was not prepared for the fact that each time a new white, cream, or ivory element is added, the way the colors look together changes. Not being a decorator, it is just something that is evolving as we get closer to finishing. But, I am very happy with the results.

    The contractors thought it was too matchy, matchy, but I told them that color is in the furniture, the lamps, and the rugs. I have red sofas, etc. As we come closer to finishing, they are also very happy with the results.

  5. I had repose grey on walls and accessible beige was painted over it with a much more pleasing look. I am still earthy with creams and whites with a little black, grey charcoal color, warm natural leather with green and dark teal accents. Floor to ceiling windows overlook nature, so it all blends seamlessly

  6. Love your posts! We’ve covered all our 90’s red/yellow/greens with SW Accessible Beige. Our home has north and south windows. SW Olympus White did great in north facing bedrooms. Behr Drizzle in the southern bedroom. Behr Ultra White trim is my favorite!

  7. I like beige. I painted our hallway & kitchen Shirwin Williams Dhurrie Beige, and the kitchen opens up to our sunnier living room and I did the living room in Tony Taupe. Everything else is white, grey & small touches of black. I find the beige very soothing. The house had white walls previously and it was so cold and lifeless. I love white walls in pictures but just did not work in this house, but I would definitely give it a try in another home. Also our house exterior is white, so guess we’ll be considered “trendy” for a while haha

    • What color white did you use for your exterior? We will be painting our house white very soon and I am both super excited and nervous at the same time.

  8. I painted our kitchen & hallway Shirwin Williams Dhurrie Beige and I really like it. Maybe because I haven’t lived with beige before, but I find it very soothing & soft.

  9. My house (in Idaho) was done in 2014 by the people before me. The walls are Elmira White which definitely look beige to me, and the trim is a fairly white white (maybe Dove White.) I actually like the way I can use whites or creams, and they both work. (That said, my last 3 houses were beige and I’d prefer whiter just because I’m sick of beige. But the outside is mountains so maybe whiter white would be too stark.)

  10. Painted most of the interior of my home with Benjamin Moore Sag Harbor Gray and Carrington Beige. Have wood trim and refuse to paint it (built in 1989), but these paint colors enhance the richness of the wood. After 20 plus years, I still love these colors — almost any color can be used as an accent and looks great.

  11. I painted my walls in living room accessible beige sw over repose grey. I’m earthy. Floor to ceiling windows surrounded by nature. The beige goes. Repose did not. I recently painted over dark grey walls in bedroom. I used ivory lace. Sw. Of note in adjoining cream kitchen I installed white marble look quartz. Previously black granite. This room painted softened green sw. I use grey very judiciously. It’s tricky. Something designers may not know is at age 60 my eyes need lighter colors. Our vision darkens.

  12. Our new mountain home is almost complete. My last two homes in the South have been gray and white exteriors with gray based aquas flowing through the interiors. The last one had espresso cabinets and dark distressed wood floors. I painted the front door black inside and out and the foyer side of the office French doors were black too. Everyone loved the house, said it felt relaxing. It sold in 4 days. The mountain house is a totally different and new direction for me. I wanted the cabinets you describe but don’t feel they’d look right with the furniture I already own, including a cherry dining suite. The exterior is Hardieboard in Timber Bark with Espresso trim. It blends into the woods. The gathering room is Sherwin Williams Colonnade Gray which looks to have brown undertones. My cabinets have Old English Chestnut stain, the beams are Provincial. The floors are 5.25” distressed walnut planks. I stressed browns, no red undertones. My countertops will be Silestone Soapstone in a leathered finish which is very real looking. The backsplash is a white subway called Grunge with lightly distressed black and rust accents. The insert over the cook top is a slate and marble mosaic. So far it looks fabulous.

  13. just painted my living room Sherwin Williams Antique White with Benjamin Moore Simply White trim and ceiling. Love it!!

  14. I couldn’t settle on colors when I bought my house 15 years ago. The entire inside was poop brown, ick!
    Overwhelmed by the paint section at the store, I went to a local used building supply store to settle on 6 or 7 cans of paint from the 20 colors they had available. One of those cans was a cream color that looked great in my dark bedroom. Pittsburgh Paint called it “Vanilla Sparkle” at the time. Over they years that color has exspanded in the bathroom, hallway, one living room wall & now my kids want it in their room. It’s a nice warm color to match anything and brighten a north facing or small window rooms. No idea what it’s current name would be now.
    With everything getting totally covered in icky grey over the past 5 years (and still going strong here) I love coming home to happy colors. Grey in bits is ok, ceiling to floor and then the entire exterior is umm…. too much.