By Max Mervis

Take a look in the dictionary and you’ll find that the synonym for white is colorless. Some people would even say white is boring or lacking in creativity. I think not! There is nothing more beautiful than a pristine white room, and painting your walls white is one of the most underestimated ideas in home design. Far from being colorless, the many hues found within white paint can help you create a space that is cool, minimalist and modern to one that is warm, romantic and inviting. But make no mistake – despite what some might think, pulling off a white room is not a simple task by any means.

Visually, what your eyes perceive when looking at a white wall is a whole palette of colors that produce a variety of effects depending on how it is used and how the room is furnished. Warm whites typically have a yellow, pink/peach or even a magenta undertone which can be soft and romantic. However, depending on the brightness of the room and the tones of your furniture and textiles, warm whites can turn dingy or dirty-looking. Cool whites have a blue, grey or slightly green undertone which can look clean and crisp, or sterile and lifeless for the very same reasons. To alleviate some of the confusion and help you choose the perfect white for your home, the following may help streamline the process:

Minimalistic Modern – Cool Whites

Cool whites with blue or grey undertones set the stage for the ideal modern palette. The trick to pulling off cool white room is by the use of texture. A cool backdrop throws any texture into high relief, bringing to life what otherwise can come off as uninviting. Natural textures including wood and stone coupled with rich textiles such as rope, wools and natural linens will look particularly lavish. For a sleeker design, the use of glass, mirror and metallics will naturally add depth and reflection, creating a look that is clean and contemporary. But be warned – basic accessories simply won’t work in an environment that is all white. Instead, opt for items that are particularly striking such as sculpture, larger pieces of artwork, and furniture with clean, straight lines.

Recommended White: Great White, No. 2006 Farrow & Ball

Great White is anything but sterile – in fact, it’s a white with character. This white works best in rooms with a lot of natural light, particularly in the morning when fresh, warm tones peek in. Throughout the day it slightly changes its tone from all-white to not-quite-gray. Great White is the perfect backdrop for calming neutrals and dynamic pieces of art.

Soothingly Restoring – Warm Whites

A color often found in our beach communities, warm whites will create a look that is naturally inviting, calming and relaxing. Generally better suited for rooms that receive a generous amount of sunlight, warm whites come to life when combined with natural textures including woolens, unglazed porcelains and marble. Vintage furnishings blend beautifully against a warm white backdrop, from eclectic mid-century modern to distressed or glazed pieces. Over-bleached pine or light oak floors will play upon the warmth of the white backdrop, creating an environment that exudes a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Recommended White: Lily of the Vally, 905, Benjamin Moore

Lily of the Vally works beautifully in rooms that get a lot of light, but offers just enough lightness for rooms that need it. This white is also great for kitchens because it is slightly warmer than your standard kitchen white.

From refined modern to inviting warm rooms, white remains far from being boring or lacking in creativity. When used correctly and in the right setting, there really are no limits as to how you can use white. Easy to work with as it goes with every color imaginable, by combining the right textures and tones white can be the perfect backdrop for a sophisticated environment you maybe wouldn’t have thought possible.