Hello friends! If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I’ve been trying out white paints for a couple projects here at The Striped House. Choosing paint colors it HARD. I love so many colors out there, but I’m especially picky about my blacks and whites. And if you have followed The Striped House for some time, you know those are my go-to-colors for most of my house. I get a little commitment phobic of putting a color on my walls. I used to go nuts with color in my house, but would grow sick of it soon after. I learned to stick with the classics 😉
Let’s start with whites
There are many factors that can play into how your eye “sees” a white.
- The direction of the room. If your house faces or backs up to east or west light, consider yourself lucky. If your room faces south or north, you’re less likely to get good natural light throughout the day. I fall into the latter, unfortunately.
- The amount of natural light that shines into a room (and during what hours). Where and what size are the windows in each room? Do you have trees that are outside your windows that block the light? Do you get more light during the morning hours, but not much when you’re home in the evenings? I have a pretty big window in my living room, that faces south, but the tree outside that window keeps this room incredibly dark all day long. So I have to take that into consideration.
- The other colors that are in the room (and what proportion they are in the room as a whole). Do you have more warm than cool colors in your decor? How light or dark is your flooring or kitchen cabinets? What color is the trim in the room? What are the undertones of the wood (if any) in the room? Now if you’re conscientiously trying to make a shift in the color scheme of your home, then by all means, go the direction you want if you’re going to be changing other things.
Case Study #1: In my kitchen (north facing with a big tree over my deck), I have black countertops, Carrera tiles on my backsplash and wanted white cabinets. But because the Carrera has a certain softness, I didn’t want to go bright start white. It certainly looks white to the naked eye, mostly because of the black countertop! But it’s actually Misty Gray from Benjamin Moore.
Case Study #2: In my office (adjoining to my kitchen, and south facing, with some natural light), I have nearly pure black walls and wanted the classic ‘black & white look’. So I painted my filing cabinet, credenza and gallery shelves all a very pure white with zero undertone. And it looks kinda awesome 😉
Case Study #3: In my dining room, also adjoining to my kitchen, and faces north, my walls are a soft warm gray. Because my kitchen and dining room are so connected, I carried the Misty Gray into that room to paint the built-ins, fireplace, and trim. And you know what? It looks white in that room, too! The slight gray base of the white compliments the gray undertones of the wall color, but contrasts the warmth enough to make it pop like a traditional white.
So back to my living room debacle. Because this room gets almost no sunlight, I know I need go with a brighter white with cool undertones. What’s funny is that I have the same Modern Gray color from the dining room in my living room, hallway and entry and it looks so dark and dreary! So I’m bringing in the sunlight through the paint.
On to Black Paints
Here is the biggest tip I have learned about black paint in a room: Don’t go pure 100% black in a room. It’s too much. Believe me, I painted my bedroom true black (and used pure white on the trim, and it is contrasting to say the least. Going full black and white in one space is almost too much for your eye. Good thing I like my bedroom super dark! But the secret to black is that you can go with a near black and no one’s eye will register that it isn’t true black. I have two rooms in my house that aren’t true black, and I’ve never had anyone stop and ask “wait, so what color is this?” It definitely photographs black. Using a soft black will soften the energy that comes from a traditional black paint. Another bonus of soft black is that nearly any other material or color will look good against it 😉
Disclaimer time: Color is subjective. For example, some people consider Decorators White to be a classic, bright white. Other’s consider it to be a cooler white with some blue undertones. I always get a kick out of posts on Designers Favorite White Paints, and the comments that people write below. It’s fascinating to read how a color looks amazing throughout one person’s home, but was yellow and dingy in another’s dining room! It never hurts to read these to help you when making your own decision. Good reads: Design Sponge article, and Elle Decor article.
Disclaimer #2: All of the colors mentioned are Benjamin Moore. This is for a few reasons:
- They have the best whites, hands down.
- They make awesome paint for doors, cabinets and trims – which is what I’m looking at for this project.
- They don’t test their paints on animals. (The ingredients used are tested before they get to Benjamin Moore as they are with all paint companies, grr)
- Benjamin Moore didn’t pay me for this post, although maybe they should…;)
I hope you found some of this information helpful. I’ll keep you posted on what I decide on for my projects! Happy painting 😉