Eduardo Rodriguez

Color 101: The Spectrum of the Color White

By Eduardo Rodriguez

The color white is commonly perceived as the absence of color, but in reality it’s the mix of all the colors of the spectrum—this is why it plays so well with other colors. Probably the most undervalued color, white is one of the most used colors in decor for its fresh, pure and pristine qualities. Although frequently seen as basic and harsh, white can do magic for your home; it brightens up a room, helps accentuate other colors and instantly opens up small spaces (especially when natural light is a commodity). White is commonly used as the starting point for any decorating project, as it creates a clean slate where you can mix and match other hues and patterns. Besides, white instantly brings sophistication, serenity and luminosity to any space.

To most people “white is white,” and every white looks the same. But like any other color, the versatility of this neutral is pretty extent due to its range of shades. These variants—generally known as off-whites—are slightly pigmented with other colors like red, yellow, blue and black. Depending on their undertones, they’re categorized into warm and cool whites, yet they still provide a magnificent array of tones that will induce a mood of relaxation and sophistication to a space. However, it’s rather important to remember that light will play an important role when choosing the right white, since it will change its tonality throughout the day. Even artificial lighting will affect its hue; incandescent bulbs will make white look warmer, whereas fluorescent and LED lights will give it a cooler tone.


Warm whites have red, yellow or brown undertones and are mostly recommended for spaces drenched with natural light (or rooms facing South). Because of their earthy qualities, these warmer hues work best with natural, organic materials like wood, terracotta, wicker, linen and canvas, to name a few.

Warm whites

If your goal is to create a soft, intimate and comfy sanctuary, a creamy Muslin White or Antique White is a great start.

Warm shades of white in decor


On the other hand, cool whites have subtle hints of blue and black in them; since they tend to recede, they will make any space feel larger. These brighter whites are a better fit for modern homes and minimalist interiors. They go hand in hand with metals, lacquered and mirrored surfaces, concrete and stone.

Cool shades of white

A white with a dash of grey like Stone White and a crisp White On White will help you achieve a more contemporary space and bring pizzazz and a sense of newness to your home.

Cool shades of white in decor

All whites are not created equal, but they all go well together. Playing with different shades of white in your home will not only add visual interest, but will also add dimension to your interiors. Although warm and cool whites work best under certain circumstances, be mindful of your needs and preferences, as well as of the amount of light in the room. But most importantly, you MUST bring your personality into the mix.

As you might have noticed through some of my previous posts, I’m white’s number one fan. Its versatility gives me endless opportunities to play with in my designs. It’s one of the few colors that’s timeless and that I’ll never get tired of. GO WHITE!

Explore more white options with the Glidden® paint color palette.

I have been sponsored by the Glidden® brand paint for PPG to write this post but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.