The cream, the bone, the off-white, the white, the ivory or the beige?
The 12th Man’s parody of Richie Benaud’s blazer options is no joke for home decorators picking a shade of white paint. Pavlova, bombe Alaska, clotted cream, cumulus, Mont Blanc or cottontail? With minds racing between desserts, natural formations and underwear, they must choose from thousands of options on the market.
”People just think white is white and it’s not at all,” says Stephanie Souvlis, who is updating her home’s colour scheme.
”It could have a little bit of green in it or blue in it … or a touch of pink that makes each white colour look slightly different.”
Faced with so many options, she turned to a colour consultant for help.
There is a science to choosing the right white, but it is complicated by the fact that people are suggestible when it comes to shades. The American colour guru Donald Kaufman uses numbers instead of names to negate those preconceptions. ”Mint sounds like the colour of a hospital, but call it ‘faded eucalyptus’ and people love it,” he told the Elle Decor website.
Everybody sees colour slightly differently, and the human eye is capable of perceiving incredibly subtle variations. Lighting, surfaces and floor coverings all affect the appearance of the white. The same white might look pink against blackbutt floorboards and yellow against a carpet.
”We tend to find more faults in white than you would in bright, dramatic colours as we see more subtleties in white,” Damien Salomons, a technical adviser for Porter’s Paints, says. He recommends that people test several different shades of white against a purely stark white background.
Lighting is key. ”Essentially, if you’ve got a room which has low natural light … the warmer the white, the more inviting that room will be,” he says. ”Whereas if you have a sunny room, which gets a lot of western light, you might want to try and cool that down so it seems almost like a refrigerator.”
A colour consultant, Renee Henzell, has fielded many distress calls from people floundering in 50 shades of white. Her business, Roar Canvas, scopes buildings for the lay of the light. One client, a bridal retailer, had covered her wall in a patchwork of white swabs to test what background would work well with every dress.
”She had gone through a lot of whites and … got herself terribly confused,” Henzell says. ”We were trying not to compete with the creams and whites of the wedding dresses but still make it look crisp and clean.”
Henzell often prescribes different whites within the same room in order to make the colour look even across different surfaces. The same white will look darker on gyprock than it will on a rendered surface, for example. She always uses a stark, flat white on the ceiling, to make it look higher and mask any imperfections.
The best-selling Dulux whites are ”antique white USA”, ”whisper white” and ”hog bristle”. Paint companies simplify matters for consumers by narrowing their ”white” colour palettes to a mere 50 or so, even though many colours that could be described as white appear elsewhere in their spectrums. But as far as colour options go, the only way is up, with paint companies continually adding to their colour collections in an effort to keep pace with fashion.
Henzell says the latest trend is for mostly white houses with feature walls. This is a departure from the late 1990s and early 2000s, when everything was white, and a welcome one, in her book, from the 1980s, when salmon was ubiquitous.
”If I could, I would paint out Sydney of salmon,” she says.
”I can’t stand it, it’s the most disgusting colour and I’m happy to say I’ve got rid of a lot of it.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.