Purity, balance, harmony; these states are associated with white in colour psychology. White spaces are known to help us experience restfulness, peace, and joy. In a light white space, it’s almost impossible to feel anxious or depressed, and in turn, the sense of calm it evokes allows us to create ‘white space’ mentally and emotionally as well. It helps us slow down and be more mindful, which of course, boosts productivity and effectiveness in everything we do.
White rooms are timeless. They make a home feel fresh and clean, relaxed and invigorating, all at the same time. They work in classic or contemporary spaces. They can be serenely cool or romantically warm. They play well with all other colours and with natural materials. They’re easy to clean and touch up when needed, making them a sustainable choice. And they provide the perfect neutral backdrop for showcasing the things are meaningful in our homes- artwork, books, plants, antiques, mementos, collections, photographs and so much more.
It’s funny then, isn’t it, that white is the colour that many people shy away from most? I hear them stressing over choosing just the right white and never pulling the trigger because it seems too complicated. Or they take a month trying a zillion different white swatches on the wall and can’t decide. Look, I admit it can seem overwhelming when faced with the hundreds of choices in the paint store. And there are all kinds of conflicting designer recommendations on the best whites, when to use warm vs cool, glossy vs flat, and everything in between to complicate things even further.
But let’s get real.
Most normal folks are not going to be able to tell the difference between white and extra white on your walls. Stop overthinking it. Keep it simple, stick to the classic tried and true shades of white as shown below, and be done with it.
If you’re into design and love to debate the nuances of how different whites look in your home, all the power to you. If you’re like me and like to simplify decisions for the home but still have it look great, follow the only 3 guidelines you need as per below, and choose one of these safe whites.
Three simple guidelines to help you get it right:
1. If you have a dark space with low natural light, white walls will look dingy. Instead, choose a neutral grey or greige that will help brighten the space and make it feel crisper. I’ve got you covered here too with
2. Paint your trim untinted white – yep that’s right – you don’t need to fuss over what white to paint your trim 90% of the time – untinted will be a nice crisp white that pops against the other walls. Or, if you’re choosing a neutral crisp white for the walls too, just paint them all out the same colour.
3. Use flat on the ceiling, eggshell on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim to provide contrast and depth.
Stop stressing and simplify design. Paint your walls white already and reap the benefits. You can thank me later. I accept chocolate. White chocolate.
Here are some great examples of these whites in action. Click on photos for source.
SW Extra White
SW Pure White
BM Simply White
CIL/Dulux Raindrop White
Ready for a little more colour help? Want to go further than white? Download this guide to simplifying colour that works with the existing finishes in your home.