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Choosing the Right Shade of White

White is by far the most popular paint choice in the world thanks to its fluidity among design styles and innate ability to make even the smallest, darkest spaces feel bigger and brighter. But this seemingly perfect paint choice can go horribly wrong if you choose the wrong shade. Luckily for you, we’ve put together this guide of design expert tips to help you avoid a decorating nightmare.


Undertones can be your ally or enemy when it comes to whites. Undertones are what set each shade of white apart from the next which is why white rooms may appear to be a different color in certain lighting. All white shades have some level of undertone ranging from so subtle you would swear no undertone was there to a level that adds a noticeably different shade to the mix, such as a creamy yellow or peachy effect.

Not sure you’ll be able to see the different undertones without a trained eye? We’ve got a tip for that, too. Compare your paint samples to a white sheet of paper. The undertones will be obvious and you’ll have a good understanding of each shade’s “true” color.

Narrowing the Choices

One design blogger suggests opting for whites with “no undertone” or whites with green, grey, or blue undertones because these tones react well to lighting changes. But you’ll also want to consider the room’s other design elements. What design style are you going for in the room? Stark white choices tend to lean toward a more modern look while creamy whites pair well with contemporary and traditional room designs. If you do go for a stark or bright white option you can neutralize the effect by tempering the room with color.

Other colors used in the room can make or break your paint choice. Will the room have white or wood trim? Light or dark wood? What color furniture do you plan to use? Are you going for a monochrome look which will require different shades of white on the walls, trim, cabinetry and any varying design elements in the room? If you are using warm tones, you’ll probably want to choose a warm shade of white to avoid a garish effect. The same idea goes for cool tones, too. If you’re still unsure of what shade to choose, go for a neutral white with subtle undertones.

Don’t rely only on print paint samples for choosing your colors. Most hardware and paint stores offer affordable sample sizes so you can actually test the paint at home. Trust us when we say that this is essential. Putting that paint color you think you love on the wall can totally change the color’s appearance and it may not have the effect you were hoping for.

Still not sure you’re up to the task of choosing your own paint colors for your remodel project? You don’t have to when you choose McCarley Cabinets to build your cabinetry and storage solutions for your project. We’ll work with you to help you navigate through all of those painstaking remodeling decisions throughout your project. Click here to request a free project estimate now.

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