Janet Parrella Van Den Berg knows what she likes, and what she likes is white – lots of it.
The couple’s expansive modern home in Kent, a 1767-built Georgian rectory extended by the Victorians, acts as a hub for both their family gatherings and the business and their five children are frequent visitors.
Co-founder of pale-and-interesting design brand White & Faded, along with her husband Dino, Janet has turned a love of the chicest version of upcycling into a full-blown phenomenon.
The duo specialise in sourcing and restoring antique pieces of furniture and homeware from across Europe – the company beginning as an online shop in 2011 and since branching out into interiors and product design. Next in the pipeline is a paint range, five shades of (you guessed it) white, which will launch next year.
For Janet, it’s in the blood, kind of. Growing up in Holland, the family home was full of historic furniture, her dad opening an antiques shop in his retirement. ‘When I bought my first antique cupboard and painted it white, my dad was horrified,’ she laughs. ‘In its original dark wood it would have lived in the garage, but once painted, it moved into the living room. That was the start of everything.’ Let's look inside...
The house has undergone a dramatic transformation since they bought it – when the family first came here, four years ago, it was an ode to shadows. ‘It was a typical country house – gloomy and old fashioned,’ says Janet. ‘Dark green walls, dark red walls, dark pink walls, dark wood... The day after we moved in, we had it all painted white. All of a sudden there was light and a blank canvas.
Light floods the hallway, which features some of the only pattern in the house, a checkerboard floor painted by Janet and Dino. With six levels over three floors, stairs are a huge part of the house. ‘Guests tend to get lost’ smiles Janet.
The couple restored the living room’s 250-year-old floors, which contrast the space’s bright white walls.
While her children may now be adults, Janet has some tricks up her sleeve for navigating sticky fingers within a bleached backdrop. ‘Slip covers!’ she exclaims. ‘They are a machine-washable life saver, plus I love the look of them. And bathroom paint on the lower halves of walls and staircases – it’s wipeable and has a really pretty sheen.’
While the lack of color may initially seem shocking, it soon begins to highlight details in each room – textures stand out and light takes on its own personality.
‘To me, white is every single color,’ says Janet. ‘Depending on how the sun falls, it can look blue, yellow, red… It changes throughout the day. White makes me feel alive and uplifted, like I can breathe, and there’s a real calmness to it. Sometimes color does make it into the house, but it tends to go away very quickly. It disturbs my eye and draws attention away from the rest of the room!’
‘We like to take time to embrace the ritual of pouring coffee and enjoying that moment of downtime’ says Janet.
'I love pairing modern design with my antiques,' says Janet of her Panton chairs. 'I'm drawn to their organic shape.'
For Janet, white is the ideal color. 'It's so peaceful - it uplifts me,' she says. We call our look 50 shades of white.'
Time-worn pieces bring texture to this space, while the floor lamp lends an industrial edge.
As well as a flowing canopy, the bedroom also houses a freestanding bath and an antique Swedish wood burning stove. ‘We wanted it to have a hotel suite feel,’ explains Janet.
Janet and Dino are hands-on renovators, from sanding and painting acres of floorboards to room demolition (Dino’s favourite).
‘What we love is the transformation – now that the house is done, we’re getting restless and wondering what’s next,’ says Janet. ‘I don’t know if we’ll ever find a forever home, we just love creating something beautiful to pass on to the next owner.’
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Amy Moorea Wong is a freelance interior design journalist with a decade of experience in contemporary print and digital editorial, previously News Editor at Livingetc. She writes on a broad range of modern design topics from news and interior zeitgeist to houses, architecture, travel and wider culture. She has a penchant for natural materials, surprising pops of colour and pattern and design with an eco edge.
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