Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Every artist will tell you that white paint is rarely just white. It actually contains a universe of subtle colors that span the color wheel. So, choosing the right white hinges on several key factors: the size of your room, exposure to natural and/or artificial light, your style signature, other colors within the space and your personal taste.
The key is to select the right white for your project. My advice? Take your time and follow these steps.
1. Uncover white’s warms and cools – Go to the paint store and gather a bunch of white sample chips. Then, one at a time, place them on a white sheet of paper. You’ll see a slight tinge of warm or cool undertones.
The warm whites will lean toward creamy yellow, a whisper of pink, or subtle orange. Cool whites go grey, light blue or a whimper of green. Do your white paper test outdoors in natural light to see the color differences accurately. Even on a cloudy day, you’ll get the highest color rendering.
2. Determine the feeling you want in the room – warm or cool. For example, if your furniture is earthy tones of beige and natural wood go with a warm white. Though, if your look features sleek black, blues and silver-tone metals, select a cool white.
3. Work with the Light – Allow light to lead you. Weather natural or artificial, light impacts the overall hue of white. Here’s a guideline; If your space has a lot of natural light, select the purest possible white paint. Though, if natural light is scarce, select a white with a slight pigment. Know also that the direction of natural light exposure impacts white too. The same white can look warmer on one side of the room and cooler on the other.
4. Audition Your choices – Once you’ve narrowed your whites based on color, style and light, it’s time to test ‘me out. Buy 3-5 small paint samples and a roller. Then paint large swatches on your walls. Go big … like 3 square feet on each wall. Record the color name under each swatch to avoid confusion. Use pencil for easier clean up. Then look carefully at each swatch in daylight and evening to get a truer sense of the color. Make your selection from there.
5. It’s Yours Now -This process brings you to the best white for your space. This is now your white, because you’ve made choices based on criteria unique to your space. It won’t look as good in your neighbor’s house!!
Still Stuck? Here’s are a few of my favorites. I recommend these whites because they offer true neutral color and play well with natural and artificial light.