Interior Painting: How to Choose the Right White

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White paint is simultaneously one of the most popular choices of paint color for indoor walls and one of the more complicated ones to choose. A great white paint can really transform the mood of a room and make it feel mellow or stimulating, depending on the type of shade used. However, finding that perfect white paint is not as easy as it may seem given the variety of hues that are available in white. With that in mind, there are several factors to consider before choosing the perfect white for your indoor space.

Explore White Variations

Believe it or not, there are hundreds of different hues of white on the market. These variations are often not noticeable until they are compared directly to other hues, but when they are compared the differences are easily seen. Warmer shades of white have a bit of yellow, rust, pink, or brown coloring mixed in and tend to generate a more mellow feeling to a room. Meanwhile, cooler whites have shades of blue, green, or gray mixed in and tend to offer a starker, bolder look and feel.

Create a Test Comparison

Taking all of these factors into consideration, make sure you do a few test runs before you pick a white and start repainting your space. A simple color test will help make sure the color looks as good on the wall as it does on paper. An easy way to do this is paint a 1x1-foot square of at least three different hues of white in various spots on the wall. After painting a few coats, examine the test spots over the course of a few days during different times in order to get a good idea how the changes in light affect the coloring. Once this is done, and after taking everything into account, you should have a good idea as to which hue of white fits best with the room.

Mood: How Do You Want to Feel?

One thing to keep in mind when choosing a hue of white you want to paint with is to determine the room’s primary purpose. Is the room supposed to be a mellow or stimulating space? If the room is meant to offer relaxation to guests, then consider a more mellow white. A mellow white can soften the appearance of a room and is great for reading spaces or living rooms. If the space is meant to be more exciting and lively, such as a kitchen, then choose a brighter white that tends to create a bolder space, especially when paired with other colors.

Natural Light: Compare and Contrast

Another thing to consider is the amount of natural light the room receives during the day. If the space gets a large amount of natural light, then a cooler white can be used without sacrificing warmth. In contrast, if the room doesn’t have the luxury of natural light, then a warmer hue of white is more appropriate to use because a brighter white tends to come off as cold in dimly lit spaces. Keep in mind that natural light varies depending on the time of day, so a white might look great during a bright and sunny day, but not so good during the evening.

Existing Furniture: What Are You Working With?

Something often overlooked when painting a room a new color is the tone of the existing furniture in the room. Since whites are made up from a variety of different undertones, the color of the furniture tends to exaggerate these shades and make them more pronounced. For example, if you have a sofa with pink pillows, then the white you use to paint the walls might appear to be a shade of pink instead of pure white. Keep this in mind as some colors of white don’t blend well and can even make a space look dirty. Additionally, don’t forget about flooring and make sure the colors you choose compliment the furniture instead of working against it.

Don't Forget the Ceilings

After you have settled on the perfect white paint for your room, don’t forget about the ceilings. The ceilings of a room are often overlooked despite their importance. The perfect white on a ceiling can draw eyes upward and make a space appear to be taller than it actually is and can even be used to accent the white color you picked out for the walls. Typically, it is a good idea to use a pure white on overhead spaces because it's more neutral than other hues and does a good job of drawing eyes up without attracting too much attention.