Tag Archives: Decorating with White

Heading in the White Direction

27 Oct

I recently attended the CDECA (Canadian Decorators’ Association) professional development day just outside Toronto. Janice Lindsay – colour guru and PPG Pittsburgh Paints spokesperson gave a fabulous talk on the use of white (specifically paint) in interior decoration. Suitably called “White or Wrong”, her presentation was thought-provoking, entertaining and very informative and I thought I would share some of her wisdom with you all.

So when is white right and when is it wrong? Well, it’s wrong when there is too much contrast – using white paint in a room with a lot of dark wood, for example, will not lighten the room, it will just make the dark wood appear darker. It’s wrong in a room with no windows – white needs light, especially natural light, in order to look it’s best. White is a highlighter, so if you don’t want to highlight something, don’t paint it white – poor trimwork is an example. Her analogy of not wearing white spandex workout gear unless you have the body of a Greek God got that point across loud and clear!

Now, we have all seen a fabulous room done in white, right? What is it that makes white right? Well, for one: texture, texture, texture. The subtle changes in shading caused by texture helps make white more inviting and gives it more life. Using shine is another tip: take a bathroom for instance, paint in one shade of white, but in bands of different shine levels (perhaps matte and eggshell) and you have white look that works.

As any design professional can attest to, picking the right shade of white is an art. Janice Lindsay specifically cautions against assuming that the same white paint “works” on all ceilings and trim in any colour room – even going so far as implying that a certain designer “go-to” shade from a well-known maker  (we hear designers gush about this shade on TV alllllllll the time – and, yup, I have used it, too!) could be likened to a four-letter word…. Well – fair enough – I wouldn’t use it in every room either! But her point was made clear: when selecting a white trim paint – the supporting colours, along with other room elements, must be fully considered for each instance. A blue-tinged white looks the best in most rooms with blue walls. Green walls, need a white with a hint of green. The trim will still look white in contrast – but it will give you the best overall result. She suggested mixing the wall colour (about 25%) into a pure white paint for this purpose. Another caveat: be careful what will be reflecting in to the white. A white room, with green leafy trees right at the windows may make the walls appear to have a greenish hue – choosing the right white can help ensure that any casting from other sources (not just windows – think brightly hued drapes in a white room) does not reflect poorly (couldn’t resist!) on the look you are going for.

So this much is clear – there is no “perfect”, “go-to” white that simply “works” anywhere. I personally love white when used properly – in fact I have a current project which is heading in the white direction (haha)- and it will not be cold or boring – it will be bright and warm and inviting – stay tuned for the progress shots! 

Finally, I have attached some shots of white done right – won’t find any white done wrong here – we have all seen that so no visuals are required!

…think I am now feeling a post on using BLACK coming on………..

Happy decorating!