We are not talking here about antique white or Navajo white or a nice Bavarian cream white. They are all lovely colors and they have their place. But we are talking about white-white, the kind of white that architects love. The kind of white that's as crisp and fresh as a snowflake.
Everyone makes it. Behr has Polar White. Sherwin-Williams has Super White. Benjamin Moore has Decorator's White. The list goes on, and to be sure, there are subtle differences — some are bluer or grayer or yellower. A positively true bright white is a matter of your eye and the light, and what direction your windows face. (Bright white looks better on south-facing walls than on north facing ones, by the way.)
But regardless of minor gradations, we can all agree — even those of us who adore color — that nothing looks quite so clean and confident as a superwhite white.
So put it everywhere. Or almost everywhere. As San Francisco designer Chloe Warner says, "The only place I would never do bright white is on a ceiling. It just looks like someone forgot to paint."
Go Big or Go Home: The All-White Room
Ceiling, floor, walls, trim. An all-white room is a blank canvas just waiting for you to make it your own. It can go old or new, modern or cottage, but it usually goes spare. Bright white is simplicity and minimalism, not opulence.
Bright white goes well with sunlight. This dining room has "spare Scandinavian" written all over it.
A crisp, all-white room isn't exactly cozy, but it is calming. There's no distracting clutter allowed in a room like this, because everything that isn't white pops into focus. I love the contrast of this traditional painting with the modern white walls.
Another spare all-white room. A botanical theme (reflected in the prints and the foliage in the vase) adds some earthy organic-ness to the whole thing.
Pop Up: Bright White With Hits of Color
White is a good choice if you are a collector of objects or art. Nothing makes color and pattern pop like bright white. And it gives even kids' scribbles a gallery-style backdrop.
Bright white is the color of choice for an eclectic room where one color is not dominant and the eye is divided among lots of vivid shots of color. Anything else on these walls would muddy the effect.
Vivid color, meet vivid white. You two will get along swimmingly, what with your contrasting but complementary personalities and all.
Blue turns bright white beachy, especially navy blue. But turquoise does it too.
Vegetable and Mineral: Bright White and Wood
If you want to bring out a beautiful piece of wood, whether it's a table or some trim, go bright white. Every line of grain seems to show up when wood is against white.
More wood with bright white. The wood warms the white up, and the white makes the wood look crisp and modern.
The Effect Frame: Bright White Trim
A bright white trim makes wall colors look crisp and clean. It looks especially good with dark colors and helps keep a room with dark paint bright.
"I love Benjamin Moore Atrium White for supercrisp trim, woodwork, and picture rails," says Warner. "My favorite is when there is wallpaper below the picture rail and a slight tint above — the bright white really snaps both into focus."
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