White: Messages & Meanings

Have you noticed, there seems to be a white trend on my blog this week? It’s probably connected to Christmas since I’ve been wishing for a white one and so far I’ve got my wish [now if it would only last until the 24th!]

Brett Walther an editor at Style at Home wrote a post about my blog this week, specifically about my most popular post on The Best Trim Colours–NOT Cloud white. Thanks Brett!

So since white is the theme I thought I would take this opportunity to distinguish what it means for my lovely readers! Isn’t this white peacock beautiful?

“As in the utter quiet of falling snow, white expresses silence and the almost total lack of sound. A quiet ‘shushing’ frequency is called white noise.”

“Cleanliness is always best represented by white as there is no other colour that gets the concept of hygiene over as clearly. White is immediately understood as pristine, untainted and unflawed.”

“For packaging purposes, especially for products expressing cleanliness or the concept of extreme cold, utilizing a stark white can be a definite advantage. But in expressing warmth, unless there are puffy white clouds in a tropical setting, humans simply don’t see pure white as warm.”

“White becomes far more friendly and approachable when combined with another colour, or when the whiteness is not quite so pure-as-the-driven-snow, as in cream, ivory, ecru, bone or off-white.”

“There is an innocence to white, a christening-dress kind of chasteness, a childlike naivete.”

“The medical profession started to wear white in the early 20th century when it was discovered that dirt and grime so easily hidden on dark colours could spread infection.”

“Faber Birren said in his book ‘Colour Psychology and Color Therapy’ that working in bright, white environments is quite objectionable. White walls may close the pupil opening, make seeing difficult, and set up annoying distractions. He felt that a working environment of dark floors, material, or equipment must have soft colours on the wall in order to have the best viewing conditions.”

“Many professionals are encouraging a movement away from pure white particularly in hospitals and old age homes where people are confined indoors a great deal. Monotony can bring boredom, the enemy of the sick, anxious, inform or aged.”

Photo from flickr

“This is certainly true if the white is too pure. The human eye sees pure white as a brilliant colour, so it can create glare, which in turn can cause headaches and eyestrain. White walls need some visual stimulation—they will work as a background for large colourful works of art because there is so much attention focused on the art that the background almost disappears.”

Above excerpts from Leatrice Eisman’s books on colour; ‘Colors for your every Mood and Color: messages and meanings.

As a colour consultant, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been hired to just pick a ‘white’ for the walls. People don’t typically hire a colour expert for that, keeping their walls white is generally something most people can do on their own. If you make a mistake and are not happy with the ‘white’ you end up with, you are the only one that will notice.

For homes filled with artwork that had white walls in the past, my clients are now looking for a ‘warm white’, like a linen colour that doesn’t fight with their art and still creates a warmer feeling over a stark white.

Need help choosing the right white? My White is Complicated: A Decorators Guide to Choosing the Right White eBook will help you get your whites right for your cabinets, trim, ceilings, and walls. This eBook also includes my Bonus book of Whites which will take the guesswork out of your decisions.

You’ll need them both if you have an entire house of whites and neutrals/colours to choose, get them here.

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.
Related posts:

White Kitchen Cabinets
Can White be a Lonely Colour?

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  1. MEADE DESIGN GROUP

    Maria, I was going to leave a comment about your post and I am just reading about the fact that you just got published in Style at Home – How cool is that !

    Tomorrow first thing – I need to go to Chapters and get a magazine.

    I have now a famous blogger fellow 🙂 yeah!

    PS Thanks for your comments on my blog and as always another great entry.