March 25, 2011

Which white is the right white?

So many choices.  One is too creamy, one is too yellow, one is too stark, another too pink....  How can there possibily be so many different options when it comes to a colour that isn't even a colour?  In Colour Theory class, white was defined as being "achromatic", meaning no colour.  Essentially, you strip all the "colour" from a "colour", just bleach it away and you get white.  So once again, I ask why are there so many different white paints to choose from?

My friends purchased their first home and are now in the process of doing some minor renovations to replace the '80's decor and refresh their new place.  In doing so, they are re-painting all the kitchen cabinets, adding new countertops and a backsplash.  Not a super cheap project and one you'd like to get right the first time, so you can move in and just feel instantly at home.  We come back to white again and trying to decide what colour to paint the cabinets.  The final choice, with some advice from the painter, was to go with Marscapone AF-20 by Benjamin Moore.  It's a nice off-white that's not too yellow but has some depth and richness which will allow the cabinets to pop but not overwhelm the space (which is a kitchen/eat-in/family room combo).  Some of the choices that were nixed were either too starkly white, too much gray undertone that it looked flat and cold or an undertone of red that started to read  pink when against the selected granite (dark brown with hints of white and pink quartz).

So, how do you pick the right white?  I find that you need to see the swatch or even paint a sample on the wall and see how it looks throughout the day - when the sun is coming up (or at least around when you would eat breakfast), in the afternoon, in the evening and with the lights on/dimmed/off.  Look to see if the colour changes and if it continues to interact well with the other colour combinations in the room- wall paint, furniture, tile, flooring, art work, fabric, etc.  Once a colour changes into something you don't love (too cold, too purple, to bland), remove it from the pile and focus on what's left.  After a couple of days, you'll end up with the white that is just right.

Some all-time fave whites:
  • Swiss Coffee - Behr 1812
  • Cottage White - Behr 1813
  • Ultra Pure White - Behr 1850
  • White Dove - Benjamin Moore OC-17
  • Cloud White - Benjamin Moore OC-40
  • Oxford White - Benjamin Moore OC-30

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