Working with White: Showing Off the Beauty of Colourless Design

Design duo Trish and Angelo Lucarino experiment with layers of white to create their dream home, demonstrating that a colourless palette isn't as limited as you might think

Credit: Janis Nicolay

This glamorous yet unfussy living room is a balance of crisp white anchored by dark elements, including a curvy-legged coffee table that rests on a chic shag rug

A Burnaby couple designs a dream home with layers of bright white

Going all white isn’t easy. It took Trish and Angelo Lucarino four houses and almost 20 years to get to the dreamy whiteout stage, an esthetic that Trish describes as “clean, fresh, chic and pretty without being too feminine.”

This very modern mash-up of sweet yet strong sets glam elements – a luxe chandelier and tufted sofa – against a serene backdrop – crisp white walls and dark floors. There’s yin and yang at play here, a balance between light and dark. Like in the dramatic stairway that combines white risers with espresso treads, which show off the beauty and simplicity of the “colourless” design.

This is what white can do. Emphasize and enliven.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

“I’m obsessed with white, and will only use white dishes, sheets, towels, flowers and candles,” says Trish. Yet this was the first time she went with white on the walls as well. The couple’s previous home was all about shades of grey. “I was a little nervous,” says Trish of going white, because the trick is finding a hue that’s not too stark or cold. “I think white is the hardest colour to pick. I agonized over it.”

With good reason – there are so many options with what people think is a very limited palette. White does not have to be nondescript and devoid of personality. “Designer Vicente Wolf [a Manhattan-based guru known for his simplicity-driven and light-filled spaces] says you can never get tired of a white room, and I totally agree,” says Trish. And the white here, in this lively and layered home, almost serves to reflect the sparkle and texture of every carefully chosen piece, radiating the homeowners’ character. 

DESIGNING DUO: Trish and Angelo Lucarino collaborated on the home’s design and decor. Elements like the marble-topped island and chandeliers (above) and a sophisticated staircase (below) are both practical and opulent (Image: Janis Nicolay)

Keeping the White Aesthetic

Now that Trish has achieved the right white (Benjamin Moore’s Decorators White, for the record) and lived in it, she can’t imagine going back. “I don’t love colour at all. I think it’s distracting, busy and loud. I want our space to be calm, soothing, serene and have a relaxing, almost spa-like atmosphere.”

That’s because after working all day surrounded by pink – she’s the owner of the unabashedly girlie and gorgeous line of beauty products, Principessa – Trish relishes decompressing in the serenity of her all-white home. “My whole office is pink, all the walls are pink, everything’s pink, and at home there isn’t a hint of pink anywhere,” says Trish. “Work is creative and so fun, and then I come home and just want to relax and chill with a glass of wine and look at the view.”

That view – on Capitol Hill in Burnaby – is what solidified the all-white palette for the couple. The Lucarinos bought the lot (the existing house was ready for the wrecking ball) for the view of Burrard Inlet, the North Shore Mountains, downtown Vancouver and beyond, and didn’t want anything to distract from it. White’s the perfect canvas. And from their bright-white hilltop aerie, it’s like the city below is theirs.

Angelo feels the same. A foreman on the docks by day, he’s right at home here (and, in fact, he’s integral to the space itself; he and Trish work as a contractor/designer team and built this home together from the ground up). With the sophisticated contrast and balance between light and dark, the feeling is contemporary and classy, and definitely conducive to both genders. This is a hers-and-his sanctuary.

Embrace White

And not only is it serene, it’s a snap to keep clean. Really. “Everyone thinks it’s hard to keep white clean but it’s so easy,” says Trish. Even the bone-white furniture. “I love it, because it’s slip-covered denim. I just whip off the slipcovers and throw them in the washing machine and bleach them and they look brand-new.” 

The couple has so wholeheartedly embraced the white, they’ve already planned their next home project. Instead of dark kitchen cabinets and espresso hardwood floors, it’ll be white on white with light, whitish-grey wide-plank floors. 

BOUTIQUE RETREAT: The master suite is also wrapped in white. Mirrored side tables and chrome accents reflect the light, while a black shade lends a dash of masculinity. Crystal drawer pulls and pendants glisten in the equally luxe bathroom (Image: Janis Nicolay)

It’s about evolution and experimenting. “It’s fun to try different things and see what works best for you,” says Trish. It helps if you have her passion, and pickiness, she admits. She constantly flips through magazines and even takes courses on interior design; 
“I would probably drive a designer crazy micro-managing them.” So she does it herself – and makes it work.

“I’m so glad we tried them,” she says of the white walls. Now, it’s like the Lucarinos live in the clouds – quite literally with the view and white surroundings. And even more so in the bedroom, with its cloud-like tufted bed, creamy soft microfibre sheets and snowy shag rug. 

“You could spend all day in our bedroom,” says Trish. “In fact, we have!” White hot.

Room By Room

A tour with Trish Lucarino through her white-hot house

Bedroom: Besides the view, our favourite feature is the bedroom. It’s like a boutique hotel. Our signature feature is the coffee bar in the bedroom so you don’t even have to go downstairs in the morning. We even have a mini-bar fridge with milk and water. 

Kitchen: We love a big island that friends and family can all gather around for pizza nights! White marble or granite countertops are a must and pretty crystal chandeliers stop it from looking too utilitarian. 

Living Room: I love a comfortable, relaxed space using only whites, greys, blacks and accents of silver. I also love using crystal chandeliers to add a hint of sparkle and glamour.

Window Seat: My husband likes to hang out there while I’m cooking, and it’s almost like having a piece of furniture in the kitchen. 

Dining Room: I love my dining room. I think it’s so pretty with the chandelier, tufted chairs and my all-white china in the buffet hutch. 

Staircase: For instant style, I love hanging a big chandelier in the middle of the stairs and accenting with step lights. The step lights are really pretty at night with the lights dimmed.

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For updates, subscribe to the free Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.