The 3 Wicked Whites of the West
When it comes to picking a white paint colour for trims, doors and cabinets, there is a fiiiiine-line between what is flexible and what is most definitely not. Would you rather have a white with the flexibility of a 10-year-old gymnast or a white as flexible as an 80-year-old armchair aficionado? Personally, I’d rather have a white that is in the form of wine – in ma belly.
And I know you’re just shakin’ in yer boots right now hoping that your white trim isn’t on the hit list…and it might be. In fact, I can just imagine some of the comments I’ll be getting from readers who have ‘said whites’ and LOVE them. And I agree, there are some homes that can pull off these whites fantastically! But THIS blog post is about long-term flexibility, about choosing a trim/cabinet colour that will work EASILY with a variety of products, styles, changing tastes, etc… So, I’m not saying these particular whites are BAD, they are just a bugger to accommodate.
The whites I’m referring to have too much yellow in them. I rarely come across whites that are too blue, green or purple (only because they aren’t used very often) – it’s always the warm whites that throw things off-whack in a design plan.
If these whites look good now, that’s GREAT, but should you want to change decorative directions, you could have a big problem on your hands.
You see, there are many fantastic warm whites that are flexible and also happen to be some of my FAVE paint colours. They don’t even come CLOSE to being too cream or yellow, they are just ‘subtle and warm’. They suit warm colours, cool colours and a wild range of neutrals. Now the buggery colours that I’m going to reference are ALSO warm – they just aren’t as subtle about it. The stronger yellow in them reduces their flexibility and won’t let them accommodate a whole whack of colours – which is snobby designer speak for ‘lots’.
So. You’re probably wondering what’s so WRONG with choosing these colours for your cabinets or trim, what’s the big deal? WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? These colours are setting the STAGE for wall colours, finishes, furnishings and accents. They’re the framework to your walls, windows, cabinets and floors, they’re the starting point for any successful colour scheme. If these colours are limiting, you’ll have a FRACTION of the choices you might have had had you used a more flexible white.
So what ARE these white wonders you ask? Let’s take a peek…
1. BENJAMIN MOORE NAVAJO WHITE OC 95
I’m not even sure why Navajo White is even on the TABLE as an OPTION for trim or cabinets as it isn’t white – yet I deal with it ALL the time in my E-Design. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an AWESOME colour for walls, but when it comes to other surfaces – it’s not so hot.
BM Navajo White walls
At the beginning of any E-Design consultation I ask the question, ‘do you need a trim colour suggestion or do you have an existing trim colour that you’d like me to work with?’ When Navajo White or Creamy (coming up next) are mentioned, I make a mad dash for the wine cabinet and grab the nearest funnel, anticipating the glory of explaining why these colours are hard to work around and probably WON’T work with the owners desire for gray or greige walls.
In the above photo of the home office, look at the colour of the small window trim vs the crown moulding – that’s the difference between Navajo White and a more flexible white. The thing is, when we buy a home, we’re rarely walking into a perfect slate and in this case, the owners weren’t all too excited about having to paint ANY of the trim. So, it was about finding a happy medium between what worked best for both trims AND the homeowner – and I think we did it! However, if there wasn’t any of the Navajo White trim, our options would’ve opened up CONSIDERABLY.
‘Whites that have too much yellow in them will be harder to work with short-term AND long-term’
2. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY SW 7012
Oh, I’m going to be burned at the STAKE like a wicked lil’ Ginger witch, but seriously, please don’t choose Creamy for your trim or cabinets. If you already have it and it’s working for you, then kudos, however, if you’re starting from scratch choosing trim/cabinet colours – you may want to look elsewhere for your perfect white.
Why? It has too much yellow in it. If you ever dream of having anything but warm-toned beige walls, this colour and the likes will be the BANE of your existence. If you are considering RESALE and want a trim colour that is flexible to accommodate a range of neutral walls – don’t do it.
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In the photo of the stairwell below, you’ll see SW Creamy on the WALLS and BM Cloud White on the trim – right where they belong! Of course, everything washes out with sunlight, so you’ll want to see the contrast where the baseboard/wall meet to see the shift.
In the photo below of the hallway, you’ll see Creamy and Cloud White again. Had we put Creamy on the TRIM, we wouldn’t have been able to do that fantastic feature wall colour – no way Jose.
Navajo White and Creamy are off-white, bordering on light. They are best suited for WALLS – not trim, not doors and definitely not cabinets. Are there exceptions? Heck yes! There’s the odd granite/backsplash combo that just BEGS for warm yellow-based colours like this – that actually NEED them. HOWEVER, they’re few and far between.
3. SHERWIN WILLIAMS ROMAN COLUMN SW 7562
Again, Roman Column has tooo much yellow to be flexible. Unless you’re Big Bird.
Oh, did I say 3 worst whites? I meant 6…
4. BENJAMIN MOORE COTTON BALLS OC-122 / 2145-70
Cotton Balls ALWAYS slays me as while it might LOOK like a lovely fresh warm white, it has a little nugget of yellow-green in it. THIS COLOUR WILL LIMIT YOU SO HARD – please stay away if you can. If you already have it, you WILL have to make some serious accommodations on your walls as Cotton Balls isn’t super flexible.
5. SHERWIN WILLIAMS ANTIQUE WHITE SW 6119
Antique White is another white #notwhite that is super popular – personally, I LOVE it…on walls. However, it’s awfully warm for mass appeal and tricky if you want to go outside of the warmer beige range and into the gray/greige or cooler range.
The above client hired me to work WITH the Antique White trim work. And while Antique White was on the island as well, I suggested she paint the island to help cut back on the AMOUNT of Antique White in the room and ALSO to accommodate her style (based on the photos of her furniture in her previous home). But even then, it was SUPER hard to get her very far outside of the beige world – it was more about an adjustment in undertone than a huge shift in colour. The current wall colour (Macadamia) was just a bit too green for the warmth of her travertine flooring. In her E-Design consultation, I gave her some new options to consider as well as a few thoughts re: the island, just to reduce the amount of yellow-cream in the room.
There IS one white that I wouldn’t necessarily PICK for trim or cabinets, but if it’s already in place, it’s a bit easier to work around than most of the others and that colour is…
6. SHERWIN WILLIAMS DOVER WHITE SW 6385
7. SHERWIN WILLIAMS EXTRA WHITE SW 7006
Don’t believe everything you read (unless I type it), as Extra White is anything BUT extra white (kind of like Benjamin Moore Decorators White)! With its LRV of 86, Extra White has a slightly softer white approach and some darned coooool undertones. If you love grays, blues and other cold colours, Extra White might seem super appealing. However, if you EVER want to change into something even slightly softer, Extra White will limit you as it ONLY likes cool colours.
High Reflective White
I also think there are WAY better whites that will bounce more off of cool paint colours, colours like Sherwin Willams High Reflective White and other SUPER WHITE white paint colours.
Now, you probably want to know which whites I DO love, the whites that are warm – but flexible. Well, that’s a blog post unto itself and you’ll find it RIGHT HERE!
Not sure which white is best for YOU and your home?
Check out my E-Design packages – I’d love to help!
KYLIE M E-DESIGN ONLINE, VIRTUAL PAINT COLOUR CONSULTING SPECIALIZING IN BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS BEST PAINT COLOURS