Q & A: Getting it Right with White


From Design Sponge

How do I choose the best white for my room?

Although I don’t usually head straight for a can of white paint, I do agree that white is the best choice for some spaces. The trick is to choose the right white to accentuate the light and furnishings in the room, rather than give an institutional pall. The white needs to look like it was intentionally selected by you for that room instead of being a builder’s fall back color. Finally, whites should be complex with subtle hues peeking through depending on the changing light in the room.

White is actually much more complicated than it might seem because white (a non-color) is all about the light reflected onto the wall from the light sources and the things in the room. Natural light changes throughout the day, ranging from pinkish hues in the morning to yellowish glows in the afternoon. Also, south facing windows will bring in more intense light while north facing windows give off a blue-gray cast. Artificial light further complicates the matter. Incandescent bulbs bring out warmer tones and flourescents bring out cool tones.

White Washed Sun Room from Martha Stewart

So what does all that mean? It means that it’s best to work with the light you have and to pull hints of color from your furnishings as the undertone of your whites. If you use the opposite tones, like warm white with cool light, they can cancel each other out and just look dull. No matter what, always test your white paints and observe them in different areas of the space at different times of day. And don’t assume that just because a white looks amazing in your friend’s house that it will be just as wonderful in yours.

My favorite white paints:

1. Alabaster SW7008 — Perfect balance between cool and warm.
2. Behr W-F-710  Hushed White — Nice brightness to it and it’s ever so slightly warm.
3. Zurich White SW7626 — Just a smidge of gray in it.
4. Aesthetic White SW7035 — A touch of beige.

More White Inspiration:

1. Top paint choices from Apartment Therapy

2. Photo gallery from Design Sponge

3. Whites paint palette from Sherwin Williams

4. Favorite whites from Benjamin Moore

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