What Color IS White?

color, residential designon August 3rd, 2010No Comments

Many years ago I attended a color seminar that featured an expert in color theory and color trends.  His question for the participants was, “What color is the most popular or favorite color in the United States today?”  The speculation and answers to his question waxed poetic…after all we were designers who knew how to sell our colors.  As he began to nix all the answers, the enthusiastic crowd became silent..what was that favorite color?

The answer was “brown”.  Seriously??  BROWN??  Well, his answer taught me something.  The most popular color that year was “Navajo White”…which is a very, very, VERY light color tint of BROWN!  I’ve never forgotten that answer.  This memory was conjured up today as I was preparing for a meeting tomorrow regarding the selection of a color palette for a home being built for a young professional couple. 

The public part of this house will have a tone on tone white theme.  We have selected a beautiful white (Benjamin-Moore’s Chantilly Lace which is actually a white tinged with a minute color of gray) for painted cabinetry and all of the interior moulding, but we need to select another contrasting darker white.  I have provided some selections from my favorites, Benjamin-Moore and Sherwin-Williams, and together we will look at the impact of the shadows and light of the Arizona sun and then make our choices.

Whites can be tricky…well all colors for that matter can be tricky, but most unforgiving are whites as they also reflect the colors surrounding them and those surrounding colors (carpet, tile or fabrics) can impact them favorably or negatively.  The trick is to know how your color will work in the whole palette scheme of your design.

This brings to mind the call I received from a potential client referral with a 911 color question.  “Why did the white he had recently painted on his walls turn peachy?” he asked.  One look at the fan deck from Dunn-Edwards, the paint used in this case, I saw a slight peach tinge in the color he had selected and with the bright terra-cotta color of his Saltillo floor reflected onto his walls, his white turned to peach! A new paint color was eventually selected and he lived happily ever after.

If you have questions related to paint color selections for your home, don’t hesitate to call for a consultation with your local interior designer who can, for a small fee, assist you in selecting the best colors for your walls given your furnishings and your exposures…northern, southern, etc.   It’s money well spent and you can avoid repainting over newly painted walls as the gentleman did in the above story.

So, tomorrow, a big leap of faith for my client…making the BIG color decisions.  I’ll be there to hold her hand.

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