When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream)

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

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Trends are always moving. You can’t pin them down. When you’ve been in the colour business for as long as I have, it’s fascinating to watch.

And it’s also the reason I’m so jaded about each new tile trend fad that comes along.

I’m talking about hard finishes because they are the most permanent. I really would like to save the world and especially YOU from so many unnecessary renovations.  It’s simply not reality to rip out tile every time the trends change. Yet we keep installing the trendy tiles like we’ll love them forever.

Related post: Ask Maria: Help! I Don’t Want the Same Kitchen as Everyone Else

Last month when my participants-designers and colour enthusiasts-started arriving at the location where we held my Specify Colour with Confidence workshop, they had barely  walked in the door when they started asking questions about greige.

“Maria, will you be talking about greige?”, was the overwhelming question.

And then while in LA, Tricia my design assistant, wrote a post about the newest trend which is painting your trim and walls the same white (or cream) because we’ve noticed that it happening in our eDesign consultations.

Related post: Paint Your Walls and Trim White (or Cream)

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

Design Chic

The white-on-white trend was born out of necessity.

There are way too many homes filled with moulding and millwork that were built or decorated in the Tuscan Trend and before that in the 90s with lots of dark slate. Not only would it be very expensive to paint all the woodwork white from the existing cream, but you can’t do it without changing out the Travertine or dark earthy tile floors because the contrast would be too high, and white or off-white would start looking too stark. Keep reading the example photo is below.

After my workshop in LA, I was home for one week and we flew to Washington, DC for my next course.

Here the questions were largely about white.

I don’t launch into my training about white until the afternoon of Day 2, but the questions kept flying, so I’m moving the section about colour and light up to Day 1.

This is one of the big reasons why my course is never the same.

And here’s what’s new about white that you should know:

Cream Hard Finishes = Cream Cabinets, Greige Walls = White or Off-White Trim

If you have earthy hard finishes or more creamy tile or countertops in your kitchen which dictates a creamier colour for the cabinets, then this is when you should break the usual guideline of coordinating trim colour with cabinets and simply choose a coordinating lighter trim for the rest of the house.

Why? So your overall wall colour can be a paler colour or a greige.

If you choose a lighter colour for the walls but your trim is still cream, it might start looking dirty.

Related post: Ask Maria, When is White Dirty?

Often when I talk about trends, I’ll get comments saying it has to do with marketing and sales. That companies have to continue to make money by telling you to switch your finishes from silver to gold, for example.

Consider that after 7 – 10 years, you’ll be craving a change no matter what’s happening with the trends.

I know a woman who changed her living room every 7 years whether it needed to be done or not.

We can’t all do this of course, but paint is cheap, so if you’ve been living with an earthy palette for a few years now and want a change. This is how you can pull it off.

Obviously paint can’t do all the heavy lifting. Sometimes you’ll need to freshen up your accessories or change your upholstery.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

Kitchen | Living Room

This kitchen (above) is cream because the granite is cream and not white. So if your kitchen is BM Ivory White (for example), then your trim could be BM Cloud White.

If you need the gradation of light to dark for blue white, off-white, true-white or cream you can find it in my White is Complicated eBook which you can download here.

Earthy slate tile or dark Travertine needs cream woodwork to look correct.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

The fixed element dictating the trim colour in this house is the dark Travertine floors (above). The current trim is way too white and should be cream.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

Enchanted Home

This slate has cream in it which is why the cream cabinets look good. However, the wall colour in this kitchen can NEVER be white because of these floors.

Therefore, if this is your kitchen and you’re clear this tile is not coming out anytime soon, AND you are craving a fresher colour throughout the rest of your house, then you have to treat the woodwork elsewhere like you are ‘moving forward’ and choose an off-white that works with the cream cabinets in your kitchen.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

Slate Floors

In this floor, there are about 5 colours and not one of them is white or cream giving you no alternative except to paint the cabinets a colour.

A white or cream kitchen with this slate will always look a little bit wrong.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

source

This kitchen has a similar slate floor but the orange has been repeated in the wood stain.

Better.

Moving forward.

That is what you have to do when the trends change. And that means you have to break the regular guidelines of having everything coordinate.

Because we just don’t live in a perfect world. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

If you need help with your whites, you can download my eBook here. It’s 150 pages filled with photos and instruction of how to get your white right. Way more that could ever fit into a blog post. Plus it includes my Bonus Book of Whites to narrow it all down for you.

When to Break the Rules Around Choosing White (or Cream) | Maria Killam

Just had 3 fabulous days in Vienna, Virginia last week with 21 new True Colour Experts and then Terreeia and I stayed at the Jefferson Hotel (above) in DC for the weekend.

Don’t you love how my shoes (from my recent trip to Paris) match the marble inlay?

Specify Colour with Confidence in DC | Maria Killam

DC True Colour Experts at the Westwood Country Club

Specify Colour with Confidence in DC | Maria Killam

We are often at Country Clubs because we always need windows for all the in-class exercises.

Specify Colour with Confidence in DC | Maria Killam

Lori Steinman, Deb Landy, Maria Killam, Susie Marentis, Jenna Steckler

Lori Steinman from Everett Scott Designs (above) said this about the course:

Taking Maria’s 3-Day Specify Color With Confidence course was time and money well spent.  Each day was chock-full of information, exercises, and tools to make the job of specifying colors a snap. Not only will this course strengthen my skills as a designer, but will give me the tools to help my clients understand WHY colors I specify work. Priceless!

I also enjoyed Maria’s warm, approachable style and wonderful sense of humor. She is an exceptional instructor who reads the needs of the class well and adjusts her instruction accordingly.  She is truly amazing and inspirational. 

I think we all benefitted from the wonderful camaraderie of the group and came away with friendships that I expect to last a lifetime.  

I am so thrilled to have been part of this experience!

Register here if you’d like to transform the way you see colour!

PS. I’ll be at High Point Market this weekend coming up after my course in Charlotte so you’ll want to follow me on Instagram to see all the trends I’m snapping!

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  1. The trim in most of my home is BM Cloud White. My kitchen floor is tiled and the tones run from tan to cream. The cabinets are a creamy color. A few years ago I painted the trim in the kitchen and the walls and trim in the dining room BM Rich Cream. It works wonderfully but I don’t like how it flows with the rest of the house with its Cloud White trim and doors. Any suggestion on how to remedy with without painting all the trim in the house?

  2. The trim in most of my home is BM Cloud White. My kitchen floor is tiled and the tones run from tan to cream. The cabinets are a creamy color. A few years ago I painted the trim in the kitchen and the walls and trim in the dining room BM Rich Cream. It works wonderfully but I don’t like how it flows with the rest of the house with its Cloud White trim and doors. Any suggestion on how to remedy with without painting all the trim in the house?

  3. The trim in most of my home is BM Cloud White. My kitchen floor is tiled and the tones run from tan to cream. The cabinets are a creamy color. A few years ago I painted the trim in the kitchen and the walls and trim in the dining room BM Rich Cream. It works wonderfully but I don’t like how it flows with the rest of the house with its Cloud White trim and doors. Any suggestion on how to remedy with without painting all the trim in the house?

  4. Off topic here, but Maria, I am so curious what you think about Ben Moore’s color of the year 2017, Shadow. Are people asking for deep purples? Just curious about your take on this one.

  5. Off topic here, but Maria, I am so curious what you think about Ben Moore’s color of the year 2017, Shadow. Are people asking for deep purples? Just curious about your take on this one.

  6. Off topic here, but Maria, I am so curious what you think about Ben Moore’s color of the year 2017, Shadow. Are people asking for deep purples? Just curious about your take on this one.

  7. (To Cindi, sorry this comment didn’t want to go in the right spot). I think lots of off-whites are pretty, and if I’d been a little more advanced in color theory at the time, I would have picked off white. Even though what I love is crisp white, which is what I have. I think my jerk countertop though caves a warm cream, and that I could not live with in rest of house. I’d like to replace countertop with butcher block, not a huge fan of granite. But people gasp, husband included: replace GRANITE??? Like, have you taken you’re pills today madame?

  8. (To Cindi, sorry this comment didn’t want to go in the right spot). I think lots of off-whites are pretty, and if I’d been a little more advanced in color theory at the time, I would have picked off white. Even though what I love is crisp white, which is what I have. I think my jerk countertop though caves a warm cream, and that I could not live with in rest of house. I’d like to replace countertop with butcher block, not a huge fan of granite. But people gasp, husband included: replace GRANITE??? Like, have you taken you’re pills today madame?

  9. (To Cindi, sorry this comment didn’t want to go in the right spot). I think lots of off-whites are pretty, and if I’d been a little more advanced in color theory at the time, I would have picked off white. Even though what I love is crisp white, which is what I have. I think my jerk countertop though caves a warm cream, and that I could not live with in rest of house. I’d like to replace countertop with butcher block, not a huge fan of granite. But people gasp, husband included: replace GRANITE??? Like, have you taken you’re pills today madame?

  10. On another note, I almost hate reading this stuff. I was actually quite happy with my white kitchen (countertop issue excluded), which is the white in the rest of my house. But the more I read, the more I suspect it’s wrong, thinking: (bleep), I probably messed up. But I’m NOT painting it again. Not just yet, it was a lot of work…

    • krista Marcheschi

      Agree. But read Maria’s 10-10-16 blog post that talks about homes are not trendy. It will make you feel much better!

  11. On another note, I almost hate reading this stuff. I was actually quite happy with my white kitchen (countertop issue excluded), which is the white in the rest of my house. But the more I read, the more I suspect it’s wrong, thinking: (bleep), I probably messed up. But I’m NOT painting it again. Not just yet, it was a lot of work…

    • krista Marcheschi

      Agree. But read Maria’s 10-10-16 blog post that talks about homes are not trendy. It will make you feel much better!

  12. On another note, I almost hate reading this stuff. I was actually quite happy with my white kitchen (countertop issue excluded), which is the white in the rest of my house. But the more I read, the more I suspect it’s wrong, thinking: (bleep), I probably messed up. But I’m NOT painting it again. Not just yet, it was a lot of work…

    • krista Marcheschi

      Agree. But read Maria’s 10-10-16 blog post that talks about homes are not trendy. It will make you feel much better!

  13. I have just finished Maria’s class in Charlotte. I Had previously read her two books and expected a lot from the course, but it exceeded my wildest expectations. In my adult life, I’ve lived in seven different homes and expect to live in at least two more. I’ve never had the opportunity to be the initial decorator, so have had to work with the existing hard finishes. The informattion and training would have improved each immensely and guided me to different choices in upholstey, rugs, paint, etc. So even if you don’t work in the design field, this class is for you and might prove to be more valuable than to a professional because it is personal.

  14. I have just finished Maria’s class in Charlotte. I Had previously read her two books and expected a lot from the course, but it exceeded my wildest expectations. In my adult life, I’ve lived in seven different homes and expect to live in at least two more. I’ve never had the opportunity to be the initial decorator, so have had to work with the existing hard finishes. The informattion and training would have improved each immensely and guided me to different choices in upholstey, rugs, paint, etc. So even if you don’t work in the design field, this class is for you and might prove to be more valuable than to a professional because it is personal.

  15. I have just finished Maria’s class in Charlotte. I Had previously read her two books and expected a lot from the course, but it exceeded my wildest expectations. In my adult life, I’ve lived in seven different homes and expect to live in at least two more. I’ve never had the opportunity to be the initial decorator, so have had to work with the existing hard finishes. The informattion and training would have improved each immensely and guided me to different choices in upholstey, rugs, paint, etc. So even if you don’t work in the design field, this class is for you and might prove to be more valuable than to a professional because it is personal.

  16. Great advice for troublesome kitchens.

    I have long favored antique white, a sort of white with a slight brown/burnt umber undertone to it. It is not yellow like cream or ivory and actually works quite well with bright whites. I think it also works well for older homes, particularly Craftsman and Victorian era homes where white whites look out of place. White white didn’t really come onto the scene until the 1930s or so, and even so the creamier tones were favored well into the 50s and 60s.

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