Decorating with White

By Joseph Pubillones

April 2, 2016 4 min read

From the White House to your house, white is the most used and specified color to paint walls, ceilings and trim. Since 1883, Benjamin Moore has been producing paint that has made changing the colors of any room seemingly effortless. Paint is generally not expensive, and short of hiring painters, painting is an easy enough project to tackle on your own. Benjamin Moore has chosen Simply White OC-117 as the color of the year for 2016.

Painting everything white seems easy, but there are infinite shades of white. Which one to select? Not all whites are the same. Whites come with nuances of many colors, from pink to yellow, blue and even gray. One of the few ways to see the difference is to compare them side by side. One will seem brighter, another will look subtle, and yet another will reflect the colors that surround it.

Decorating with white needn't be sterile. Whites can offer sophistication, casualness, warmth and elegance. It is a versatile color that can be paired with any other color, and can be center stage or take a secondary role just as well. White is interesting in that it can set different moods for a room, depending on the time of day or night. During the day, with natural light streaming in, white can reflect extremely bright light, and then during the evening, the same shade can be glow in the light given off by lamps.

White is a friend of most architectural moldings and detailing. There is a certain crisp quality that white offers millwork, and in unrivalled by any other color. Architectural details such as columns, rosettes, dentils and swags almost become like icing on a cake when painted in white. Sometimes the millwork looks best in a pure white when paired with another white, an off-white and even a creamy wall tone.

Using white as a central element of your decorating scheme allows your interiors to evolve as you add colors to your home. White is accepting of accessories in soft pale colors such as pastels, but also equally accepting of strong pure colors such as red, blue and yellow.

White can also be seasonally appropriate. In summer, the brightness of the sun can be reflected in whites and remind one of crisp white cottons and linens, and in winter, whites allude to white of snow and animal furs. It is a color that is easily adaptable to any time of the year.

A curious quality about white is its versatility in decorating style. White is a perfect color in that it can be mixed with antiques and heirlooms in warmer hues, and with contemporary interiors in cooler hues with a dash of gray.

As with all colors, white rooms are all not just one shade, but rather a mix of different shades of white and also different paint finishes. Using one shade for all surfaces can make the room seem boring and lacking interest. Using combinations of color and finish allows your interior to have depth and character.

Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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