Q&A with Whitewash & Co’s Founder and Design Specialist, Jo Alcorn
Jo Alcorn has been an inspiration to many through the years with her remarkable designs and flair for adopting projects of all sizes; fostering warmth, function and a welcoming energy in even the smallest of spaces. Visually notable in her myriad of appearances on the likes of CityTV, HGTV, BT Toronto, the Discovery Channel, this bright-smiled Girl Boss is keeping us impassioned about white as a major player in our décor vision boards.
The name “Whitewash & Co.” is as lovely as it is chic. Tell us a little bit about how that name, and your career as a design specialist, came to be?
To whitewash something means concealment or palliation of flaws or failures, to cover up and made to look new or rejuvenated. In design we are not necessarily recreating the wheel, we are simply using what we have and making it look beautiful and functional once again! So designers are simply whitewashing over your spaces or design challenges and the result is stunning spaces that fit the client’s lifestyle.
As for being a design specialist, I wear so many hats that it seemed more fitting. I keep busy with my design clients and Reno side of the business. I am constantly designing new products under the Jo Alcorn collection and having fun filming with HGTV, the Marilyn Denis show, and morning and daytime shows on a monthly basis. I also write for the Toronto Sun, as well as a handful of other magazines/blogs monthly. I am the style editor at Canadian Home Trend Magazine, I teach at Humber College and then, on top of all that, I volunteer with the Jack Russell rescue of Ontario and I try to support animal activist groups when I can. So while I keep busy with a mixture of things all the time, the saving grace of it all is that I have ADD having lots on the go, and on my mind, is a must for keeping sane!
We read your bio and note that you spent time studying and growing as a designer in fabulous places such as New York & Europe. Can you share with our readers some of the things that inspired you most or influenced your design style?
I always dreamed of living in New York City, I truly have a love affair with it! As a person that likes to take advantage of every opportunity presented, when I was giving the chance to study abroad in London, England I jumped at it! Living in the U.S and England for a semester presented me with the drive and enthusiasm to conquer my dreams in the design industry. It taught me a lot, but most of all it gave me the fuel for my fire! I have been so fortunate and lucky to have lived so many lives already and to have experienced things I had never imagined. And the crazy part of it all, I’m I am still young and have so much more to do and see!
Your Para Paints collab. colour looks stunning in your home designs (pictured). Of all the colours of the spectrum, what was it about white, specifically JoJo Whitewash, that you were drawn to?
Years ago, Para Paints asked me to help with their trend forecasting colours. While I was in the meeting, I kept holding white paint chips next to the colours, however, they didn’t have a true white that was working. So I asked for a plain sheet of paper so that I could compare. When asked what I was doing, I said you can’t see the true form of a colour next to another and didn’t they have a pure white in their line-up to use? This sparked an idea in their minds and before I knew it, I had a paint colour designed and named after me – the first colour in Para history to have a colour named after an actual person. My little claim to fame!
The accents you’ve chosen for your living space reflect a personal style that we just love. What lead you to choose these pieces? Was there a theme, or feeling you were looking to evoke from this room?
To be honest I just have always wanted to live in a white, clean, crisp home and this place provided that opportunity. I have also always wanted to have a ton of white accessories on table tops, white frames on all white walls, white furniture – an overtly light, airy colour palate! I love naturally bright rooms and allowing light to be a secondary accent within the design. I also like a minimal clean design approach but there still is coziness to it. So when I moved into my place over three years ago, I did just that. I allow the space to dictate what design direction to take; every house I have been in has been completely different because of this philosophy I practice. Even with client houses, homes will guide you in the design process, whether it is taking a cue from the baseboards’ scale, or high ceilings, or the windows, it is the building’s architecture that is the key player in the design fundamentals direction.
Your affection towards your pups shines through in this picture of you. We understand that this love is extended to more than just your fur-family members & that you are an animal rescue group advocate, specifically with Jack Russell Terriers. As fellow animal lovers (and fur-baby parents), we are curious your best tips for keeping white furniture…well, white, in a busy lived-in home.
I am a big animal activist and supporter of just being kind to any creature, furry or not, in this world! When it comes to keeping furniture clean with animals, number match your colours to your animals as best as possible. Because I have white shedding dogs, I purposely decided to go with everything white as it makes me looks like a better house keeper! The other tip when it comes to living with white, or any light colour for that matter, is having durable and washable fabrics. My sofa, which is one of my prototypes from my Jo Alcorn Furniture collection, has a very high rub count which is key to its wash-ability factor; be sure to find fabric with a rub count of 75,000 and higher for optimal durability. What all this means is that a wet cloth gets dirty paw marks out easily. I also put white blankets down for them when guest aren’t over and I throw them in the wash every week. My pillow collection is fully washable, no need to remove a cover, so those are easy to keep clean. As for painted surfaces, I try to make sure it has a bit of a gloss. All my carpet runners are machine washable. So really, it is very easy when you can wash everything!
In no more than three words, how would you describe yourself?
Sassy, driven, kind.
Visit Jo’s latest interior designs, blog posts and more on www.whitewashco.ca
photography courtesy of Whitewash & Co.