• Kayla Lindgren

Painting with Whites Explained

One of the biggest colour trends right now in interior design is using whites. White cabinetry, white walls, white tile, white countertops. The beauty of using this colour no matter which finish it is being selected for, is it is actually extremely impactful. What many don't know, is there are hundreds of whites to choose from. So, when a client says, "I think I want to go with just white", it sparks an entire new conversation.

Whites come in all different undertones- warm, cool, neutral, and even pink.

Without boring you with all the technical details of how colour works, I am going to break it down nice and simple so you can better understand how to choose the best white for your space. The first objective is to understand how the colour wheel works, and how those whites are actually generated.

The centre of a colour wheel will always be white when determining tints of a colour. If you are selecting shades of a colour, the colours will become darker toward the centre as they become more saturated. Either way, whether the less saturated tone is on the outside of the wheel or the inside, the whites are always the ones that have less saturation, therefore, being classified as a shade of white. All whites are born from one or a combination of colours. The wheel below from Maria Killam simply breaks down where we get so many variations of whites.

Now that you are able to visually understand the origin of where a white is born, we can further discuss how you can work with whites without making costly mistakes. There is no doubt about it, everyone sees colour a little differently. That is another topic of discussion, but, this is also what makes some designers so great at selecting colour schemes for clients. I always say that I am blessed with a sensitive colour eye, so without comparing very desaturated tones next to each other, I am able to see what undertones they carry. Others might only be able to determine the undertones when comparing whites next to each other, and sometimes even then they cannot identify. So, how can you work with whites and ensure your result is satisfactory?

Well, you have two options. Hire an interior designer who can assist you with choosing your colours, guaranteeing an optimal result. If you are bound and determined that you are going to execute a project with whites on your own, follow these tips:

  1. Determine the mood of your space. Is it cool and crisp, warm and cozy, or bright and airy?

  2. Identify the design elements that you have existing in the space that you do not plan to change, and determine their design characteristics (colour, style, reflection, how do they work in the space?).

  3. Stick to one undertone. I cannot stress this enough. If you choose a white for your walls that is a cool undertone, but a warm creamy undertone for your cabinets, I can assure you, you are going to think your walls look blue!! Avoiding combining undertones will ensure you don't have yellow countertops, blue walls, green cabinets, and grey tile. That will leave you with a big costly situation!

  4. The exception to the rule - if you are going to combine white undertones, stick with combining those whites with neutral undertones!

I am going to leave you with some of my favourite shades of white! These might not look like whites digitally, however, in the right application, it is hard to tell they even have "colour" to them!

Stay tuned for my follow up blog post which will feature some spaces I have used these colours in! You can also expect that I will elaborate on how those whites behave different times of the day depending on natural light source, how they behave under artificial light source, as well as how the elements around them affect how they are perceived by the human eye.

Thank you for reading, following, and I hope you have gained some colour knowledge!


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