Seeing undertones in white kitchen cabinets

dckitremMarch 20, 2013

Someone recently suggested that a poster should compare their white cabinet to a piece of white printer paper to see what undertones it had. So I am trying it at home and wanted to know if I am seeing what you are seeing. I know that everyone's monitors read differently, but I never see undertones, so I thought I'd give it a try anyway.

Here are two small cabinet samples on a piece of white printer paper with some Benjamin Moore swatches next to them:

The sample on the right reads yellow to me and the one on the left white. I like the one on the left better.

Can any colors (counter/backsplash) be matched with brighter white?

Any thoughts are appreciated!

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Kathy Rivera

I'm seeing the opposite...the left as I am looking at it (the one next to glacier and simply white) looks more yellow to me.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:27PM
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It's the one next to Simply White that reads more yellow to me, too.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:47PM
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The sample on the left looks yellow to me too.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:48PM
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Fori is not pleased

me three. me four i mean.

But I like the one on the right better.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:09PM
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Ditto the others. I'm seeing more yellow on the left.

Re color matching/complementing: I find almost all colors go well with bright white.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:11PM
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Printer paper varies in shade and undertone too, so I'm not sure if it's a good idea to compare as a "true" white.

I used Simply White for my cabinets, it has no obvious undertones and is a very nice neutral white. I first tested White Dove and it looked green-yellow and dingy in my kitchen.

THe cabinet sample on the left appears to have some yellow and slight pink undertones to me. The one on the right has some pink. But your camera/flash may be adding those!

This post was edited by tinan on Thu, Mar 21, 13 at 1:28

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:27AM
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Thank you all!

Sorry for the confusion, when I loaded the photo on my computer it was upside down so I wrote the post looking at the photo on my phone, which is the reverse of what you all saw so we are actually all in agreement on which one looks yellow!

Thanks for giving me your thoughts, so it seems like I won't be boxing myself in if I go for a more bright white...

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:03PM
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The fact that White Dove and Cloud White look beige next to the right cabinet sample makes me think that the right sample is really stark white. Stark white is a look and can be a good one in some kitchens; in other kitchens, it can look bargain basement.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:46PM
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If your color preferences are towards "clean" colors (true hues) rather than "dirty" (muted, greyed or subdued by addition of their opposite), go with the bright white.

However, pure white is hard to work with if you add "dirty" colors because it makes them look muddy by contrast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clean versus dirty

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 2:55PM
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White Dove IS pretty off-white.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 6:41PM
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To get a true read you might try putting the swatches between the two cabinet samples on the paper to see how the same paint chips look against the two different samples. You might see some undertones in the paint chips better against the brighter white paint. What colors are in the rest of your house? Yellow based or gray based? What is the trim in the kitchen area? Unless you plan to repaint, your trim may appear dingier near your cabinets if it has yellow undertones.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:04PM
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On my monitor they both have yellow/green undertones. I like a cleaner white and the one on the right.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:10PM
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White Dove is very white in my kitchen. I have lots of natural light and was shocked how different it was in my kitchen compared to the showroom.
How much natural light and also what kind of light you install will greatly effect the way the kitchen will look.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Wolfgang80- Bargain Basement is my fear! I don't want it to look like the cheap cabinets we have in my children's bathrooms.

Thanks for the link lazygardens. Interesting.

Tinan - It looks off white next to my trim.

Socialsister - I'll try that in natural light tomorrow. I don't know about the undertones in the rest of the house but the trim is builder white, as are all the doors, (closet, bedroom, etc). So I think anything that is slightly off white will look dingy next to the trim and we have an open floorplan.

Thanks blondelle

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 7:57PM
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One on the left looks more yellow to me also. I prefer the whiter one on the right.

If you're wondering which white will go with more countertop and tile choices i'd suggest taking both to a granite yard and compare.

I have 2 door samples and in the showroom and in my home one of the whites looked too bright so I grabbed a softer white for comparison. Took both to a granite yard and the softer one looked so dingy next to most of the countertops I liked. So back to a whiter white for me.

What is it you're trying to achieve? Are you trying to chose between those 2 cabinet colors, trying to match trim color, or ? What's the purpose of the setting them next to the smaller paint swatches?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:51AM
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Echoing what island just posted. I am finding off-white to be more difficult to integrate with granite slabs than the neutral white sample cab colors I have.

Today I viewed my color samples next to both Virginia Mist and leathered Via Lattea (a lovely black with white quartz granite) and the neutral white went better than my present choice off white (chosen for walnut stain wood floor tones).

I'm also finding POC (catalytic opaque varnish) finish to be less desirable than I expected. May be back to real paint finish rather than opaques.

Thanks for the thread and good luck.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 1:19PM
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I think you are doing it all backwards. There are an infinite number of paint colors and only a few counters you will like. Why not pick your counter and backsplash first and then choose your paint color after to complement them.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 1:53PM
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I think blondelle is right. You need to compare the cabinet colors to those elements in the kitchen you are keeping. So, compare cabinet color to the trim (and floors if you are keeping them) in the kitchen in differnt lighting conditions. Do think of what lights you will be using as LED, halogen and incandecent lights all cast different tones.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Ditto on the last two posts. If you can choose any paint color for your cabinets, start with your countertop or your backsplash (whichever element is more important to you) and then work to the paint color. Definitely only look at it in your actual space in daylight conditions. When I was having a tough time choosing things, one of the things I learned here was that daylight is daylight, but artificial light can be changed. So make sure you love it in daylight and THEN start looking at artificial light. We hates our choices in some LED lights and loved it in others, so we had to make sure we choose the correct LED color as well.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:54PM
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One other sugestion. Be careful about color cast from the wall/floor/cabinets currently in the room. For instance if you have yellow walls and look at your samples, that will make your colors look different than if you have red walls.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 5:04PM
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Island - That's a good idea about comparing them to counter choices at the stone yard. I am trying to decide between those two samples. I like the brighter white, but am worried about a cheap looking kitchen. Everyone talks about the creamy white they chose for their cabinets. The smaller paint swatches were just some colors that are mentioned A LOT on GW and I originally got them for comparison sake for me, but thought they might also help people "see" the shades of white more clearly.

Sparkling water - I'm leaning toward Virginia Mist also, though I had never heard of Via Lattea so I looked it up. It's lovely! I guess once I get a door sample in I should head off to the granite yard. Not sure about the finish. Why are you finding a POC finish less desirable?

Blondelle - the paint sample chips were not there as choices, but rather to help people familiar with those colors to compare them to the swatches.

Lannegreene - Nothing in the kitchen is staying, we are tearing down to drywall/studs. The floor is being ripped out and replaced with a darker wood and the walls will be painted. Here is the trim and wall color on the rest of the first floor (fairly open floor plan). Good point about the lighting- thanks! (Though I have no idea which light does what) I realized that I put the samples on a black piece of furniture that was showing through the copy paper a little.

wi-sailorgirl- Ok counter and bs samples it is and then in natural light. Thanks!

This post was edited by dckitrem on Sat, Mar 23, 13 at 15:56

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 3:55PM
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I can't get the html code to copy from photobucket, but the floors are oak (golden), the trim is white and the walls are beige (SW tavern taupe)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:00PM
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POC finish: "post catalytic opaque conversion varnish" finish. Very common paint finish by name brand manufacturers due to fantastic durability of the finish.

Higher end and some mid range semi custom cabinetry will have the lower matte sheen, some will have the higher gloss sheen.

I dislike the plastic high gloss sheen look. Two frameless brands I am interested regrettably have the high gloss, smooth finish sheen but, aside from noticing something was off to my eye on the finish (duller gloss), I didn't truly catch on until one day rubbing my fingers and palms on the doors, and recognizing the doors were completely smooth everywhere and no longer felt like real wood :(.

I like when cabinet doors and drawers feel like real wood, a slightly rough finish with low sheen (matte). As I said, higher end custom and semi-custom offer this. Actually, one high end said I'd have to pay to reduce the sheen to the matte I like, which I won't do.

I'm going to keep on my search, but sometimes it seems it's the "brush stroke" feel and look I'm missing. I think that might be more achievable by going with a less durable, but more in-home touch up capable, pre-catalytic varnish that many custom cabinet makers use. Added benefit, most allow you to pick your own paint brand for a small up-charge.

That is why I said I might not be as content with the POC, even though it's the most commonly used paint finish technique by large manufacturers on the market. And for good reason: it's so durable in kitchen use.

This post was edited by SparklingWater on Sat, Mar 23, 13 at 18:30

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:17PM
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White cabs looking "cheap". That's also my concern with the whiter white.
However if I look on Houzz at all the white kitchens with marble counters that I love, they have to be very white or those marble countertops wouldn't match. That's what I'm finding when I take door samples to the slab yard. If you haven't done that yet, try it and hopefully your can bring some samples home.

Another instance when looking at white wood samples I immediately vetoed some of the whitest, and did the same with the door sample. Then the KD took me around the corner to view a wall display with range, marble countertop, etc and it was beautiful...and also one of the whiter ones I initially rejected.

I prefer white over off white vanilla and cream or anything that usually coordinates well with tan, brown, etc, so not sure why this is so hard.

I think for me it's the stark white, almost blue white that I don't like. Don't want it to look like Thermafoil and if it's too glossy it looks cheap to me unless its an uber contemporary Seimatic or similar cab.

Looks like you can tell when the undertones are off so you just have to find a color that goes with the other elements you want. My countertop choice (whatever that is)will probably lead me to the right white.

And regarding the cabinets alone, I think the devil is also in the details to avoid cheap. The right crown, hardware, etc, and not overdo gimmicks. Just not sure what the equation is yet! I think I know more about what I don't like than what I do like. Hopefully my KD can help me sort that out.

Hmmm, sounds like a good idea for a new thread. How to avoid a cheap looking kitchen!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:01PM
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