The Right White

Choosing paint colors can be tricky in general, but white may be the Mt. Everest of paint selection conundrums. Some whites look bright, some look dingy, some look a little gray, some have pink undertones…you get the idea. Not to mention the lighting! A paint swatch can look one way in the car on the drive home (natural light), another way at the office (florescent light), and an entirely different way when you finally get it home (incandescent light). So with all of these factors, combined with a general indecisive nature about most everything (oh, maybe that’s just me…)how are you ever supposed to get any paint on the walls? Here are a few (less than expert) tips that I’ve found help make the decision-making process a little easier:
1)      Stare at a bunch of samples for a really long time. Like until your eyes go a little bit crossed. No, really. This is how we chose our white this summer. It was a bit painful, but using a few “true” white swatches (like Behr’s Ultra Pure White), we were able to define the subtle differences and hone in on a shade that matched our style. If you’re looking to warm up a room a bit, then you might want a creamier white with yellow or pink undertones. If you’re trying to create a clean, crisp space, you might opt for something with a tinge of gray.
2)      Get inspired. After separating our swatches, we then compared them with a few inspiration photos. Think of how you want your room to feel. This summer, I found a picture of a kitchen in an old Country Living that I would’ve copied down to the hinges if possible. It had perfect vintage modern style. Using that photo, as  well as a few others, I was able to notice that I gravitate toward whites that have cooler undertones. As a result, I was able to choose our trim and cabinet color (Sherwin Williams’ Westhighland White). 
3)      Cheat. This is not a high school math test. You are allowed to look and see what the other kids are doing and copy the really smart ones. There are zillions of blogs out there with beautiful rooms in all types of styles, and many cite paint colors with their photos. If they don’t, chances are that if you e-mail the blogger he/she will be happy to tell you some of the details. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery.  If you need a starting place, Young House Love ( has some great suggestions. Some home décor stores, like Pottery Barn, even offer their own lines of paint to help you recreate the looks you find in their magazines.
As spring draws near, what better way to spruce up your space then to put up a coat of fresh, white paint? Happy painting!


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