I love color – it’s my passion and probably my specialty. For that reason, I am surprised I am learning to appreciate “white” more and more.
White is technically the absence of color, but it consists of all the colors on the visible spectrum. Ok, that blows my mind and I won’t even try to understand it.
I just know I like white, especially in combination with color.
I generally prefer to use it as an accent or in small amounts, unless we are going for a very contemporary style or some other deliberate style in which white in mass makes sense.
Typically, though, white, especially in mass on walls, is stark, cold and does little to warm up woods in furniture and flooring.
White can be depressing, particularly in winter or in a room with northern light that reads cool. I often say that paint companies need to give you a bottle of Prozac with each can of white paint.
White can, however, read fresh and clean and reflect light to make the room appear brighter. In the hot months of summer it can make you feel cool.
When white is combined with other colors, it can be grounding. It has the ability to set-off colors and make them pop. For this reason it is a popular choice for moldings.
How much white you use depends on the tone you want to set for the room.
Our goal in Julie’s bedroom is to use white to give the room a cottage-feel and to highlight the other colors in the room, especially her favorite periwinkle walls.
White samples from Behr and Valspar
I plowed through some 50 samples of white to consider for Julie’s room. Notice all the variations (above photo). It may be counterintuitive, but white is not straight forward. It needs to be selected as carefully as other colors for the room.
We quickly selected two that closely match Julie’s fabrics. Next we held the two choices up to her periwinkle walls. A winter white, appropriately named Polar Bear (Behr Paints at Home Depot) won-out over the other choice because it made the periwinkle sing.
Remember: strong color combinations should drive our choices rather than strong color preferences.
In other words, we make the best selections when we think in terms of how a particular color can complement other colors.
Designers think: “What is this color doing?” NOT: “what is my favorite color?”
In the case of Julie’s bedroom, holding the Polar Bear paint chip up to the wall broke the tie.
So hold those paint samples up to the other elements in your room, next to the floor, furnishings, fabrics and walls. You may love the sample in the store, but think less or more of it when you see it next to the other elements in the room.
And I am beginning to think more of white. Even considering painting “some” walls white in my home. We’ll see if it passes the Prozac-test!