About Interiors FurnishingsWorking with You Attache Design Press PGD Blog Contact Us

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Monday's Method ~ Off White Dilemma

Lovely, aren't they? These designs are from the master herself of off~white, Barbara Barry.

Glinda asked me the question below in a comment ~

"I read your Monday's Method post tonight and since I am one frayed nerve away from a nervous breakdown, I was hoping you would be able to help. I am trying to find an off-white paint that has NO yellow in it but is creamy enough to be warm...I just can't seem to find the right one. I plan on using it in our entire house."

I answered her pretty quickly because I was concern about Glinda being "one frayed nerve away from a nervous breakdown." Oh dear! However, I thought I would expand here and show some detail because I think picking paint is one of the most difficult things to so IF the color is not based on the design as a whole. I have written this before but I never select paint color until I am certain about what fabrics or art will be in the room. Why? Because the room will be much more coordinated if the paint color is based on what will actually fill the room plus it is a heck of a lot easier to do it that way. Picking a paint color out of thin air is very difficult. Then you are left trying to find furnishings that coordinate with your paint color. The thing is ~ paint color is infinite ~ everything else that goes in the room is not (unless you have things custom made).

In Glinda's case, she simply wants to find an off-white that is on the warm side but without yellow in its formula. I actually told Glinda the wrong fan deck to use so I will correct myself here ~ take the Benjamin Moore Color Preview fan deck (not the Classic which is what I told Glinda ~ sorry Glinda) and find off-white colors that are the lightest tint of colors other than yellow. I found several that originated from greens. Even though they originated from green, a typically cool color, these still appear quite creamy and on the warm side. I also found some that were derived from neutrals. Can I say that they contain NO yellow? No. Green is derived from yellow but it also contains blue. Browns are made by mixing many hues on the color wheel so yellow may be a small variable. It will be tough to omit yellow altogether. Here are a few that do not appear yellow~ish...

2165-70, 2164-70, 2163-70

2162-70, 2161-70, 2148-70

2148-60, 2147-70, 2146-70

2145-70, 2144-70, 2143-70

And my all time favorite ~ I use this color for trim a lot...

2149-70 (aka White Chocolate)

Now that you have all these colors side by side, you can see that some are warmer than others.

This is actually a good exercise to do when trying to select an off white (or other neutral) paint color from thin air. After looking through the fan deck, use the website ~ My Perfect Color ~ to copy and paste colors side by side and see which are warmer or cooler, depending on your preference (if out of thin air, I would choose a cooler neutral as it will coordinate better with other colors). You may not pick your one color this way but it will narrow down the small samples to purchase. Choose only two or three colors to buy samples of. Too many samples may make it more confusing than it needs to be. Paint white boards with your sample choices and place them throughout the room (or home). View the boards over a couple days to see them in different lights to see how they perform as light ~ specifically the light in YOUR home ~ will make a big difference.

Benjamin Moore also offers a service on their website ~ Personal Color Viewer. This allows you to see paint colors in actual rooms. You may upload your own photos or choose from samples photos (I find the latter easier and sufficient). This will also give you a good idea but it does not replace the exercise above. It may help to narrow down your choices to two or three.

Please don't fret, this is a simple exercise that will help relieve your worried mind. It is also ok to use different off-white or neutral hues in different rooms if needed. The variation from room to room will likely be negligible to the eye. And lastly, please remember its just paint. Unless the color is completely off, once you fill the room with your belongings, the paint color won't be the prominent feature. Your focal point and supporting furnishings will.

There you go Glinda, I hope this helps!

If you do have a question about this or another topic, leave me a comment. If you would like advice about something specific to your space, send me a couple of pictures at paula@paulagracedesigns.com.

I'm linking with these lovely ladies ~ all fabulous parties worth a long leisurely visit.

Monday ~
Between Naps on the Porch Metamorphosis Monday
Little Red House Mosaic Monday
Cottage Instincts Make it for Monday

Tuesday ~
A Soft Place to Land DIY Tuesday

Thursday ~
The Shabby Chic Cottage Transformation Thursday

Saturday ~
Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Nite Special

See you tomorrow for Timeless Tuesday!


  1. Great tips, thank you!
    Although, I'm not letting my husband see this post - he is an enormous fan of off-white and in my opinion needs no further encouragement!

  2. Hi Pretty Paula! Oh, I learn so much when I come to visit you!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  3. This is a very informative post on selecting color. I certainly agree it is one of the hardest design choices to make...YES, test the colors, it can be a bit of trial and error and sometimes requires taking a leap of faith! As you said, it is only paint!

  4. Interesting post, One can learn visiting your site.

  5. White is my favorite color for walls. Unfortunately, I have just shifted into a rented apartment, and have to live with the pink walls that the landlord gave me. But I have been working with my space, converting it slowly into something i can live with happily.

    Your blog is beautiful, and inspirational. Thanks for sharing all the tips.

  6. The rooms you posted are gorgeous ! I like to use the BM personal color viewer too.

  7. My favs are BM OC-19 White Dove and BM Linen White.

  8. Great post Paula and brilliant advice. There's a logic to all of this and I love your methodical intelligence with paint colors. Brava!

  9. Good advice given here. The one other thing I might add is you can talk to your tinter and find out what pigments will be going into the mix and depending on how much of one pigment or the other you can tell what hue will show up the most. I do this all the time and even have my own special formula's mixed in qts and try them out. I am sure your post is going to help a lot of readers. Great advice, Kathysue

  10. Thank you for all your wonderful comments and additional advice. Keep them coming ~ knowledge is key!
    Paula Grace ~

  11. Well, here I am nerve cauterized and no longer frayed...I so appreciate your taking the time to elaborate on this topic. I learn so much from you.
    I will say that I have chosen the perfect hue and I am over the moon (hint hint) with the color I chose. I have a rather unconventional approach to design and at the risk of being ridiculed, I will tell you that when I go into a room, I feel the color it should be and that is what led me to the color I chose; of course, all of the furnishings had been bought so I knew that all would be well...Thank you for your graciousness...

  12. It is so interesting. When you really start comparing white/cream paint colors what a huge variety there is.

  13. Thank you for the awesome tips.It really can be quite challenging picking just the right of white or cream.

  14. I like all of your alternatives. On my screen they look pinkish and I love every one.


How wonderful! You are leaving me a comment. Thank you!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin