White brick wall

Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky?

beautiful kitchen with white paint on cabinets
Beautiful kitchen and use of the color white

Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky? Maybe because there are so many white paint colors to choose from. Did you know that Benjamin Moore & Co has 372 colors with white in its name? Of course, I knew that there are many different white paint colors. However, until a client was trying to remember a “white” she had in her old home, I had never checked to see how many.  It is no wonder why picking a white paint is not an easy task for most people.

I stood there at the consultation with my paint deck asking, “was it cloud white, white Christmas, oxford white” until she said, “I don’t remember and they all are looking so similar.” 

white paint on brick wall in room.

With there being 372 whites, it is no wonder picking a white paint color is so difficult for many people. White paint is not just white. More importantly, you can make a mistake by picking the wrong white.

Understanding Color

It is helpful to understand some color theory basics to explain the difference between the many different white paints available. This will also help you when picking colors for your home.

fan deck showing colors of paint to pick from

Warm and Cool Colors

First, all colors can be categorized as either warm or cool. Warm colors have an underlying color of either orange, red or yellow. Warm colors advance towards you. This means they can make large rooms seem smaller. Logically, this tells us that warm colors can help us create cozy rooms. On the other hand, cool colors have an underlying color of either blue, green or purple in them. Cool colors are known to recede. Painting a small room in a cool color can make a small room seem larger. Additionally, using a cool color on a ceiling can make the ceiling seem higher. Cool colors can help create a feeling of calmness and tranquility in a room.  

When critically looking at a color, you will see its underlying color. This is sometimes called an undertone. If this is a new concept to you, the best way to discover this is with the color white. Many people think white is white. As I said above, it is never just white.

living room showing white paint on walls with warm colored accents
Cool white walls with warm accents

Some are warm whites, and some are cool whites. Looking at each white separately, it may appear to just be white. When you compare them to each other, you will be able to identify their underlying tones. Some have cool underlying colors like blue or purple. Others have warm underlying colors such as yellow or red. 

These are the nuances that can cause you to pick a color that ends up not being what you thought once you put it on your walls. If something is not quite right, it is probably the underlying color that needs to be tweaked.

Don’t make this white paint mistake

A client of mine painted her walls off white to create a monochromatic look with her off-white pickled oak cabinets. Sounds simple enough—what can go wrong? The “off-white” cabinets had a pink undertone to them. The “off-white” paint she chose had a yellow undertone to it. Guess what? They clashed! She could not figure out what she was unhappy about until she called me in to help.

A blue undertone would have brought coolness and balance to the room. A red undertone would have continued the warm cozy feeling the cabinets had. Any other undertone then the yellow one she picked would have been a better choice.

living room showing white painted walls with warm colored accents
Warm white walls

When you pick a paint color, blue, pink., white or any other color, be aware of whether it is a warm or cool color. Next, know it’s underlying color tone to make sure you selected a color that will work in your home.

If you are starting a decorating project and need to pick paint colors, you may find Decorating with Colors Inspired by Nature helpful. Another great resource is Personality Types and Colors. If you need to plaster your walls before you paint https://happydiyhome.com/how-much-to-plaster-a-room/ is another great resource for information.

  • Living Room Design & TEN MOST COMMON MISTAKES

    June 29, 2020 by

    Make your living room design the best by avoiding these ten most common livingroom decorating mistakes.  Mistake #1 Creating a rarely-used room. Think about your needs to make sure you design a living room that will be used, loved, and enjoyed. In the past, living rooms were used for formal entertaining. Continuing this tradition sometimes… Read more

  • The cause and effect Covid-19 will have on interior design and home trends.

    May 31, 2020 by

    Table of Contents Cause: Staying at home effect: greater importance put on “home”Cause: working from home effect: home office and housing boomCause: Desire to avoid crowds effect: surge in entertaining and recreational activities at home.CAUSE: Diminished travel EFFECT: More money to spend on home projectsCause: awareness of our footprint on the environment effect: love for… Read more

  • outdoor room

    Five Tips for Creating an Outdoor Room That You Will Love

    May 28, 2020 by

    Table of Contents 1: Plan carefully And Pick The Perfect Location For Your Outdoor Room2: Define the space3: Keep it Easy4: Choose comfortable AND Durable furniture5: Don’t Forget To Add Your Personality An outdoor room can be a beautiful extension to our home to relax and entertain in. Outdoor rooms should receive the same amount… Read more

  • damaged wallpaper

    How to fix damaged wallpaper The Easy Way

    May 17, 2020 by

    Table of Contents Material list To fix damaged wallpaper:Method 1: TearsMethod 2: Scrapes and scuffsMethod 3: Nail and molly holes I did not save a spare wallpaper roll for repairsDON’T BE SCARED OF WALLPAPERFavorite Wallpaper BrandSubscribe Any designer will tell you nothing can add interest and texture or convey a mood of a room like… Read more

  • virtual design living room picture

    Virtual Design Consultations: This is so exciting!

    May 5, 2020 by

    Virtual Design Consultations have been amazing and have allowed my clients and me to stay safe, which is the absolute most crucial thing now. In a few short months, many things have changed. Business is different, but that doesn’t mean bad, quite the contrary. Virtual design and technology I once used technology to make things… Read more

  • Feel Good Ideas For Your Home

    April 17, 2020 by

    Hello all, I hope everyone is doing well despite that life is very different these days. This week I am re-posting one of the very first blogs I wrote. I decided to share it again because It is much more meaningful today than it was six months ago when I first posted it. I hope… Read more

  • How is your New Normal Going?

    April 5, 2020 by

    Table of Contents New Normal #1: Staying HomeNew Normal #2: Social DistancingNew Normal #3: Loss of Control I hope everyone is well and staying safe. It’s week three of staying at home, and I am wondering how you all are doing. I am hoping you all are using “Design to be Happy” ideas as a… Read more

  • Creating gallery walls

    How to create an amazing gallery wall with family photos

    March 30, 2020 by

    Table of Contents Step one: Determine where to hang your galleryStep two: Select your photos Step three: Design your galleryPhoto framesphoto sizeLayout A gallery wall using family photos is just what the doctor ordered to bring a smile to your face during this time of uncertainty. It is also a fantastic project that the whole… Read more

  • Home safe Home

    March 20, 2020 by

    Table of Contents Finish spring cleaning Organize Closets and Drawers Go through old photos Spruce up your home gym Refinish a piece of furniturePaint a pictureRearrange a room’s furnitureMake Pinterest Boards My home has always been my safe-haven, but now the Corononavirus Pandemic and flattening the curve, gives that a whole new meaning. I have… Read more

  • Spring is Coming

    March 12, 2020 by

    Table of Contents Design2bhappy Ideas for March Spring clean and OrganizeDecorate for SpringBrighten up your decorBuy yourself flowersFind your whimsyEnjoy the extra daylight Spring is coming but I like to jump-start it because March is always a blah month. Usually, there is no snow, no signs of life in the garden, and more than usual… Read more

View all posts

Published by

Barbara Rose

Hi I am Barbara Rose. I am an Interior Designer and I started design2bhappy to inspire others to think of Interior Design as more than just creating a beautiful home. It is about living comfortably, while being surrounded by things you love. It is about creating an environment that we feel good in while providing a sanctuary to counter- balance the stress that life can throw at us. This blog is aimed at helping others achieve that "there is no place like home" feeling.

2 thoughts on “Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.