Written by Carol Weil, The Decorating Therapist    

Of all the possibilities, four major paint companies chose a shade of white as their “Color of the Year” for 2016. Yes, you may be surprised, but I think it might be perfect timing.

These paint companies are onto something. More and more we need our homes to provide respite and sanctuary from the constant buzzing and pinging of instant communication, the grating din of noise pollution and the pressure of our packed schedules.

Although the whites chosen by these kings of color are each different in hue, they are soft and neutral enough to be used generously in almost any space, rather than simply as accents.

  • Benjamin Moore selected Simply White OC-117, characterizing it as transcendent, timeless and having unmatched versatility.
  • Sherwin Williams chose Alabaster SW 7008, describing it as a hue that is symbolic of new beginnings, and that it offers a sense of personal solace and revival to weary minds.
  • Behr Paint chose Ivory Keys T16-17, and recommended it for creating balance with other colors in their current palette.
  • Glidden chose Cappuccino White GLC17-01F as a color that offers silence and creates a peaceful space away from the hectic landscape of a constantly connected world.

 

Before You Paint with White

White can feel cold and sterile, but that can be counterbalanced with striking architectural details, intriguing furniture, artwork or lighting fixtures.

If you love white but are afraid of it being boring, try using several subtle variations of the same color from room to room, ranging from pure whites to grayed whites to brown whites. A bonus in doing this is that rooms in this palette won’t feel dated as quickly as those with vibrant colors, and you can always switch out your accessories for a fresh look.

You can also pair white with bold colors to create the “negative space” that artists use to allow the main elements of the composition to shine. It could be using white trim around a window to frame a stunning view, or a white painted brick fireplace in a room full of color, or wide vertical stripes to separate open-concept rooms.

Also, you can add texture to white to avoid the sterile look. Culturally we associate white with cleanliness, but reducing all of a room’s elements to a single color can make it feel like an operating room or laboratory. Probably some of the last things you’d want your home to remind you of! Texture is what ramps up the cozy factor and it can be visual, like a herringbone pattern in tile or the visible grain in painted wood, and it can also be tactile, like a shaggy sheepskin pillow or a velvet throw.

As with all colors, white has an associated temperature, mood, light reflectivity and style. If white is just white to you, talk to a designer about the the ideal shade for your space and its function.

Carol Weil is the Decorating Therapist. She changes the lives of her clients through the décor, design and function of their homes. Learn more at www.thedecoratingtherapist.com.

The rooms featured on this page are from a home in Glenwood, Md., listed at $775,000. Click here for more details and photos.