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White’s the toughest of ‘em all

complexity contrast elegance metamerics textures White

Interior space with multiple architectural, arched doorways, white walls, wood floors

(Photo source: Glen Nagel via 500

Whites are probably the most popular color selection for rooms and they are assumed to be the easiest to select. Nothing could be further from the truth!


White is the most reflective of any color in the paint spectrum. Therefore, it will change drastically to lighting conditions. It is also very difficult to formulate the perfect white.

White bedroom, white walls, minimalism, black modern chair, white floors, high ceilings

(Photo source: Love Minimal Style)


The smallest amount of colorant, say red, will affect the color, turning it pink. (Tinting machines have minimum measured amounts for adding colorant). This has been a great frustration for me, over the years, when trying to engineer the perfect white for a room. Often, when working with the colorist, we have had to formulate the color in a gallon, instead of the typical quart, so that those minimum dosages don’t affect the color as much.

My trick to engineering a white is to add small amounts of varying colors, creating more complexity. Because whites are so reflective, the added variants will dynamically deflect light that passes over them. For instance, if there is a small amount of black colorant in the formula, the color will gray in an overcast or foggy light.

White interior bedroom, fireplace, minimal design

(Photo source: Imperfect Interiors via Apartment therapy)


Adding a blue colorant without adding a complementary colorant, will result in a very cool white.

Cool white bedroom interior, white walls, white bedding

(Photo Source: looks like white)


Interior design home office, white walls, desk, books, modern painting

(Photo source: Derek Swalwell)


For me, an entire room painted the perfect white is a slice of heaven.

Bedroom with white floors, white walls, monochrome, white on white

(Photo source: Petra Bindel via Fashion Squad via Elle Decor.)


In the end, a complexly formulated white can be the most active, dynamic, elegant color of all.

Victorian architecture room,  high ceiling, gloss white wood floor, white walls, white furniture and white sheers

(Photo source: Alexander Van Berge via Purple Area via Apartment Therapy)


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