I was recently quoted in Cottage White magazine along with other fabulous colour experts and it’s available in the newsstands now.
Here’s my quote:
“People seem to agonize over whites more than any other color because once you start comparing whites, that’s where the trouble starts,” says decorator Maria Killam, author of the e-books How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones and White Is Complicated: A Decorator’s Guide to Choosing the Right White. “And if your white doesn’t relate correctly, you can easily end up with something looking either too stark or dingy looking.”
Since so many of you are looking for just the right white to paint your house, here’s how I narrow down the options to just the right white:
If you are looking for anything from a blue white to a cream, you need to understand what they look like first.
Every day when I’m sitting at my desk in my studio (above), I look at the track lighting I installed in the renovation (below).
I had specified OC-117 Simply White for the walls and ceilings (there was no crown moulding so I wasn’t fussed that they should be a different colour) the paint store ended up mixing OC-130 Cloud White so that’s what the rest of my office is painted, including the ceiling.
Notice that the track is literally a blue white (below). It’s so cold and by the way it bothers me every. Single. Day. But not enough to change it, that would seem a little too OCD for me, haha.
Here you can see that the face of the clock (below) is just a plain true-white, which is what makes it easier to see that the walls around it are an off white.
When you’re looking at an image and trying to distinguish which white it is, look at ALL the whites in the room. Just like the white on the face of the clock (above).
I was talking to a client today about their renovation and we were deciding on a cabinet colour. Here is a glimpse of their marble (above). What’s a quick and easy way to see how creamy it is? Just compare the slab to the tag which is generally a true white. Then you can make a more educated decision if you don’t have a sample in your hands.
If you scroll back up and look at my office picture again, you can see that the chairs are whiter than the IKEA desks which are cream. Easy to see when you compare all the whites in the room.
But most often when people ask me for a white, I specify a white that is technically in the greige category (below). It is more forgiving and easier to work with.You need lots of white in your house to pull off painting your walls a true white!
SW Incredible White | Image via Pinterest
This one is the lighter version of SW Agreeable Grey.
SW Shoji White | Image via Pinterest
And I consider this one to be more of an ivory greige. Very similar to the colour in my house.
SW Rhinstone 7667 (source)
If a client has a lot of blue in their home, a pale blue grey (above) is a good choice.
OC-52 Grey Owl (source)
A very popular all-over blue/green grey is Grey Owl. My True Colour Experts™ mention it a lot on our private Facebook page as a go-to favourite.
If you have a house that is still completely entrenched in the Tuscan brown trend, then I would NOT recommend any of the above. They are mostly too pale and don’t have enough colour to stand up to the richer and darker colours and finishes in a Tuscan brown house. If that is your situation, you’ll need this neutral instead.
These whites and many more from both Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams can be found in my eBook White is Complicated; A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White. I go into much more detail on how to choose the right white and which white is right for your cabinets, trim, walls or ceilings. If you EVER need to choose a white, this is the book you need to reference.
And remember testing whites is close to impossible without committing to a large area, at least one wall and if you have other conflicting paint colours, even that won’t help you. You’ll end up doing this so it is a good idea to know which category of white you’ll need to narrow it down 🙂
The only way to choose the right colour every time is to combine my system of understanding undertones with the most indispensable colour tool available. You can purchase your own set of my curated large colour board collections here.
Have a great weekend my lovelies!