White paint

mondrian The other day I was providing color advice to a client when she phoned me to tell me that a friend had asked her why she was painting her walls in color and just to paint it white “which would bring in more light”. It is a valid point. It raises the question – why do designers have this “aversion” to white? I think if you look at art you will find most canvases (particularly up to the 19th century) were filled with every colour but white. A judicious look at the use of white since the 20th century usually shows that the most successful use has been by artists like Mondrian or Malevich where the use of minimalism and colour block uses white as a feature rather than as a mere background. In other words, white is as much a player as every other colour. Most people tend to use white as a background colour rather than as a statement piece. This is where things can get tricky. To take this analogy further, white in your room is really only effective when it is used as a dramatic statement; as a part of the colour scheme. White walls – particularly in this country – tend to reflect a harsher light than perhaps a different tone or colour on the walls which diffuses light more subtly. Think of your walls as the canvas on which you will paint: if you want a dramatic statement using block colours, then white could be of use; however, I find most people want homes that they feel are elegant, warm and have a varying degree of sophistication where the walls take far less importance against other colours in the room. Other colours – or even white with a hint of colour in it – will diffuse the light differently in a room and add that blush or hue to enhance the atmosphere. It must be said that there are many other colours that are more effective at bringing light PLUS atmosphere into a room. Think about how often you actually wear pure white yourself? No one should stop you from painting your walls white if you want to -but it is important that you consider WHY you are painting walls white. This will help you focus on white or not.