Cindy Bailen
Color Consultant
 
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As much as I love color, I realize that sometimes, when you have to paint, white is right. Itís useful when youíre moving into a new place and you haven't made your color decisions yet. White is fresh. Itís expansive. It provides a backdrop on which you can use calming neutrals and jewel-tone fabrics. Itís a rest for the eyes when the adjoining rooms are brilliant colors. White is the perfect trim for colorful walls. So in this monthís newsletter, weíll look at white and help you decide which one is right for your home.

There are thousands of whites at the paint store, from pure white to ivory and pastels. Benjamin Moore offers the OC Collection, a group of off-whites. Ralph Lauren has the White Wash line. There are cool whites and warm whites, creamy whites and bright whites. Which one will work for you?

Letís start with some popular whites. Ralph Lauren has two that I favor: Pocket Watch White (WW01), and Polo Mallet White (WW05). Both are great trim colors. I love Benjamin Mooreís Navajo White on the wall because it has a little bit of peach and rose in it. Their Linen White (#72) has a yellow undertone from the yellow oxide in it. It looks great in apartments. White Dove (Benjamin Moore #06) is a little less yellow than Linen. In recent years the formula has had more gray added to it for better coverage. Now it looks slightly greenish to my eyes. I often use Cloud White from the Benjamin Moore OC (Off-White Colors?) collection, which is just white enough, but never harsh. From Benjamin Mooreís classic palette, some beautifully warm off-whites include 904, 905, and 925. Pratt & Lambert also has some lovely off-whites: an ever-so-slightly green Milk White (#1664) and barely peachy Halfín Half (#1844). Sherwin-Williams Kestrel White is lovely in hallways.

Whites look great in multiples. Ivories and whites can be used together. One example: a glaze made with Sherwin-Williams Collectorís White (SW1907) ragged over Irish Cream (SW1115). Matching the undertones works too. Benjamin Mooreís Atrium White, a bright, modern white with a pink undertone, is a great trim color for the rosy Opal (OC-73). If youíre using a few different whites in a room together, pick one for the walls, one for the trim, and one for the ceiling. Whichever white you choose for trim, for continuity, you could use it for trim color throughout your home. Thatís my goal, but I havenít gotten there yet.

When you look at white paint chips, itís often difficult to distinguish between them or to determine what the undertones are. To help yourself see the differences, cut out each chip and glue it to a sheet of white paper or posterboard. Label them with brands, names, and numbers. Carry them with you into the room and see how they look in different light. What looked like a pale beige on the chip might look purplish on the wall. Before you start your paint job, test the ones you liked best in swatches on the wall in the room.

If you canít find just the right white for trim in a room with colored walls, you can use the wall color on the trim (in semi gloss) or you can mix your own. I recently had fun with this when looking for a trim color to complement creamy yellow walls. Working with the fellow at the paint store, I first tried a quart of the yellow paint mixed to 25% strength. For a whiter choice, we also mixed up a quart of white with one drop of each pigment that comprised the yellow. Either would be nice with the yellow walls. Ultimately, you could just add a cup of the wall color to a gallon of white paint to tie the trim color to wall color and make them look coordinated. Itís subtle, but it works. Regardless of the proportions you use, remember to make note of the formula you used on the can, in case you ever need more for touchups.
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