The Finisher

Nettie White and her team of artisans transform spaces -- and the fixtures within their walls -- in truly inspired ways.

By Barbara E. Stefano
Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Nettie White’s stock in trade is transformation: designing high-end, custom artistic spaces that breath new life into just about everything in your home.

“My specialty is color. I started out doing walls and had to be creative with what was there,” she says, “and that turned into ‘What about our cabinets?’ and ‘What about the bookcase, and what about floors?’ We do everything.”

Nettie eventually teamed with a general contractor with a creative eye and in the 16 years since starting her business has added seven more artisans to her team, each with a specific skill set and each cross-trained in multiple disciplines. Together, they can take a “Summer of Love”-era kitchen with dated olive drab and metal to a warm and timeless castle-like space, complete with custom-antiqued cabinetry, charming distressed wood furnishings, warm stone backsplashes and countertops, faux leather surfaces and elegant wood ceiling beams. Nettie’s boutique style is seamlessly tied into the décor her clients already own without gutting the room. Want to replace narrow-strip wood flooring with wider boards? Nettie’s team has perfected sanding, staining and routing techniques to create the illusion of wide-plank floors without tearing out a single piece of wood.

This artistic approach to surface finishing not only results in masterfully reimagined spaces, but also is far less disruptive to her clients. Where total ripping out and replacement of walls, floors, furnishings and décor can drag on for months, she and her team can be in and out in a matter of weeks. Life in the home can go on more-or-less as usual, and the homeowner is spared the pain of manufactured pieces that don’t fit his or her personality and aesthetic.

One of the most commonly replaced fixtures in a home – and one with which Nettie has had some of her greatest successes – is custom-finished kitchen cabinetry. She uses complex layers of color to create depth and tailor existing cabinets in unexpected ways. “I don’t think people can always envision their existing kitchen cabinets being any different. So we come in and do what we do where you’re not having to tear it out and demolish and pay for new cabinets … [that] aren’t tailored to your colors and aren’t layered.”

Those who aren’t yet in the market for a redesign can still zhuzh-up a room with a piece or two from her Wildwood lifestyle boutique, The Porch. The shop includes a revolving selection of signature hand-painted furniture by Nettie and other artisans, and is the ideal place for would-be clients to preview furnishing styles and pre-plan a project.

“I am completely passionate and love my job – I really do,” she says, adding, “And I would not be where I’m at without prayer and guidance from God. I have prayed every step of the way, and it wouldn’t be the business it is without that.”