The Right Shade of White for Every Room

Four rooms, four paint hues
A living room featuring Farrow & Ball “Old White,” No. 4.

Robin Daly of Fremont-based Daly’s Paint & Decorating talks how the right shade of white  can emphasize natural light, neutralize green shades from the outdoors, and make any Seattle room feel sunny year round.

If you are near the water...

With the blue light reflected off the water, you can either accentuate or neutralize it by playing with complementary colors. “Typically, I caution people from going to steely gray, because it can look flat,” Daly says. “Instead, get something with nuance to it, like a white or neutral. When you are near [or above the water, like in a high-rise] the color of the light can be very, very blue—so warmer undertones help balance that out.”

SWATCH THIS: Farrow & Ball “Wimborne White,” No. 239, is a great off-white that will still read as a true white to act as a complementary neutral.

If you are surrounded by trees...

The light that filters through trees is tinged with green. Instead of painting your walls a stark or pale white, choose creams with orange undertones to neutralize the green in the light streaming in from outside. “You want full-spectrum, luminous color; these are the key words for white paint,” Daly says. “Choose white or a neutral like beige or gray that has pigment to it; never choose a white with any black in it, which will make everything appear flat and gray—not luminous.”

SWATCH THIS: C2 Paint’s “Vellum,” No. C2-868 has a slightly orange undertone to balance out leafy greens.

If you want your room to feel brighter...

To make a room feel sunny 365 days a year, Daly recommends a shade of white which “has a kiss of yellow to it.”

SWATCH THIS: C2 Paint in “Lumen” C2-948.

If you want a sophisticated neutral—but not white...

“Colors are definitely lightening up,” says Daly. “Choose grays and beiges [as alternatives to traditional white] to create beautiful backdrops for any room.”

SWATCH THIS: Farrow & Ball “Old White,” No. 4. Don’t let the name fool you; this gray/beige shade is the perfect paint for any neutral palette.


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