Nothing will drive a designer crazier more than choosing the perfect shade of white paint. You find what you think is the exact hue and the next thing you know, the room looks yellow. And the yellow makes it look like Grandma’s house. What’s a designer to do?! I have the perfect solution – use my 3-step formula for getting that white just right!
1. Look at the Undertones
Only one or two whites are really completely white. Most have undertones that can read as blue, pink, yellow, gray, or green. And those undertones are really apparent when you put that “white” near another color, or another white. This is especially important if you’re going to use white as a trim or ceiling color. What I do is for each room is pull every sample together and put the samples in a clear tray . I am talking the tile, stone, wood floors, carpet fabric, pillow fabric, window treatments, wall coverings, and upholstery fabrics. When you check out white paints that may work, you have every element together, so you can see if the undertones work together.
2. Compare Cool vs. Warm
Those undertones are really critical when you’re pairing a white with another color. They can make a white seem cool (gray or blue undertones) or warm (yellow or pink undertones). A nice warm white can add a nostalgic tone to a kitchen, for example. While a cool white can be crisp and clean against a navy in a powder room. Find your balance between those warm and cool colors.
3. Check the Light
You paint the room the most luscious shade of creamy white that looks gorgeous in the natural light from the windows, but the minute the lamps are turned on in the evening, it isn’t the right white at all! What happened?? It’s crazy how much a white can change with whatever light is in the room. A north-facing room will give your walls a blue or grey tone. A south-facing room will warm up the white. And the bulbs in your lamps can change things, too, with yellower light making blue undertones read green! Reflected light can even cause trouble, with greenery outside a window changing the color of nearby walls, or fabrics casting colors onto white walls. So do a few trial runs, see where the light hits in the rooms you’re painting, and take all the light sources into account!
Even the paint finish can get you in trouble – so download my FREE Paint Finish Guide to help you decide whether to go with a satin or an eggshell! It will help you choose the white you need to be a design star!