Building Home & Family


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ISO: The Perfect White

While we are not quite at the painting stage yet, I wanted to select the colors we will use at White House now so my husband can pick them up at the same time as another client’s paint (he’s a general contractor) whenever it’s convenient.

Fittingly, I knew I wanted the walls at White House to be white. I figure (a) it’s an inoffensive color when we move out and rent the unit, and (b) I love color and won’t have to be quite as restrained in my choice of decorative¬†items. It’s just that there are about a million shades of white.

For a handful of reasons, it is easy and inexpensive for us to buy paint at Sherwin Williams, so knowing our source helped me narrow the selection of white paint colors initially. Then, I picked my top six colors, including a variety of warmer and cooler shades, and bought quart-sized samples (the smallest size available at my local stores). There’s no magic to the number six: I wanted a small variety without spending too much on sample sizes, so it’s just what fit the bill.

My brother-in-law cut me some spare pieces of drywall to paint so I could audition them on all the walls of the various rooms. If you paint either paper or drywall samples, definitely aim for several coats, the same finish you will use in the room (satin, eggshell, etc.), and LABEL your samples!

Johann laughed and said they all looked the EXACT. SAME. I disagreed outdoors but had to admit some of them looked pretty similar in the poorer indoor lighting.

I originally thought a really bright white would make the nursery, which has only one window that is partially obscured by a large and too-beautiful-to-remove lilac bush, would be the best way to brighten the room. I was surprised that colors like Pure White and Extra White actually looked garish in there. Instead, I opted for a more muted white. (Note: All the colors looked significantly different on my computer screen, even after calibration, than they did as in-person paint samples. You get a sense of relative color, e.g. one is brighter than another, but not actual color.)

My final(-ish) selections are Marshmallow for most of the unit and Snowbound for the nursery. Marshmallow is slightly warmer, and Snowbound is a little more blue-grey. Like I said, I was really surprised my nursery selection didn’t follow conventional wisdom. I’m glad I tested the samples indoors before committing to a color. With that quart paint sample of Snowbound, I might even paint a full wall of the nursery before finalizing the selection.

The selection process was reasonably smooth for me. I’m glad I had a direction before I entered the store or I might have died from being overwhelmed. There are just so many colors! If you have any paint color selection tips, I’d love to hear them!