It’s easy to detect warm whites and chilly whites, but interior designer Michaela Scherrer sees an entire rainbow in between. This chromatic sensitivity led her to not only dress in shades of white but live entirely in a world of pales. Chez Scherrer is far from one note: Her serene house, which we featured in the Remodelista book (including on the cover), is a study in the many nuances of white.
Not surprisingly, getting the paint shades she’s after takes some doing. Like many designers, Michaela mixes her own whites, a process she admits can take hours, even days and weeks of experimenting. Here are some tips from the master mixologist.
Photography by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
“The undertones in whites, such as green and red, each give off a vibration that has an effect on how the space feels, and to me the wrong whites can make a room feel stressful,” she says. “I like when white tones layer off each other: My living room is a bright white and my dining room is a cozier white. When I mix whites, I often muddy them: I add a bit of umber or black to take away the sharpness and create a more relaxed mood. If you want warmer results, introduce a bit of ochre or yellow. And if what you’ve got is too yellowy, add purples or blues. One shift and your results can be so much more refined.”
To make sure her whites look good in the space they’re intended for, she always mixes her paints on site and tests them on the wall (or on a painted masonite board) at different times of day and night—”but never on a rainy day; you can’t see the proper color.” For one of her clients, Michaela tried out 60 hand-mixed whites throughout the project.
“Now so much white paint has a weird underlying lime green in it,” she adds. “I’m always fighting this one color. It’s citrusy and here in LA that’s the last place I like to go.”
For more white paint advice, take a look at:
- 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Paint Picks
- 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ Exterior White Paint Picks on Gardenista
- Remodeling 101: How to Choose the Perfect White Paint
- All You Need to Know About VOCs in Paint
Go to Palette & Paints to find a full spectrum of color posts.
N.B.: This post is an update; the original ran on April 21, 2016.