Conflicting information re warm or cool whites

bundy123August 28, 2014

I know you have all been asked a zillion times about cabinet and trim color but I ran into two color ":experts" that had conflicting information.

Our trim is SW extra white and I was looking to pair this with SW Divine white. I have this combination elsewhere in the house and it looks fine to me so I was going to use the same for the kitchen cabinets. One person at the SW call in color experts stated it was fine with the correct lighting and the other said no as extra white is a cool white and divine white is a warm white. I know there is no umber in the extra white but I thought it was one of those colors that went with anything.

The husband and chef of the family wants the extra white cabinets and trim and I am okay with that so if I need to switch the wall color I can.

Flooring in the kitchen will be a wood look tile.

Is using these two with the added weight of the cabinets bad? What say you?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My take is go with the white you like on the cabinets and if the trim doesnt work with it after they are painted, change the trim. Divine white is a creamy warm, smidge of peachy undertones right? Would look great as a cabinet color. The extra white is very cool, but I don't think it will look bad, unless it makes the cabinets look like a dirty white because of the pure cool crispness of it. Not sure if that makes sense.

My favorite warm white is Benjamin Moore Alabaster. My whole house trim and builtin book shelves are painted that. When we redo our kitchen it will also be the cabinet color. Its a warm inviting white. Maybe that for trim, if you want two types of white.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 1:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For good reason, most people choose the same colour for their cabinets as their trim colour, if they go white. If Divine White is creamy and yellow enough, it should work to have the cabinets that colour and the trim extra white. However, if divine white is just a cream colour (and not really yellow), than I think you should choose a warmer cream white for your trim too. In other words, if you want your cabinets to be white, your trim should be white (ideally the exact same white). If you want your cabinets to be cream, then the trim should be the same cream. If you want your cabinets to be a pale creamy yellow than the cabinets will read as a colour and not white, so you can pair that with a white like SW extra white. The rules for a warm white wall colour and trim are not the same -- here you want contrast (perhaps why your current application looks good). With the cabinets and trim you want a match or a deliberate contrast (colour cabinets/ white trim).

I will note that much of what I have written is what I picked up on a course I took with Maria Killam who is a well known colour expert here in Canada. She has a blog you might be interested in, and she is soon to publish an e-book all on white.

BTW, SW Extra white is supposed to be a true white, not a blue white or so I have read.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2014 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

But Carol, that advice conflicts with Lynda Reeves advice that for an all white room, you should use multiple colours of white. More expert conflict! :)

You could probably say that Lynda is talking about the white-on-white-on-white colour schemes. Having subtle variations on the colour creates texture, which is necessary to keep a monochromatic colour scheme from being flat.

But then Maria is probably assuming that your room isn't going to be all white. So you don't need the texture, and it's easier to just have one white.

That doesn't answer OP's question, though. I am terrible at paint names. And I just put up what I think works. I use different lighting as an excuse if someone says I broke some rule. :P

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 1:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Maria Killam advice I was writing about related to having white cabinets and what to do about the trim. In the course I took with Maria this summer, she clearly advised white or off white cabinets are paired with matching white/off white trim. Cream cabinets are paired with matching cream trim. Pale yellow cabinets are paired with white trim as you would not want to do yellow trim everywhere else. She advised us to pick a lane. If our hard finishes are white, then the trim and other hard finishes should be white. If our hard finishes are cream, then the trim and other hard finishes should be cream. She was not speaking about decorating a room in white, but picking hard finishes (counters, tile, cabinets) and trim.

Maria also told us that it is okay to go crisper white for the trim in the bathrooms if a crisper white trim is better in there, but still have a warmer white trim in the rest of the house if that is what is more appropriate in the main space. If you switch trim colours, it has to be inside a different room with a door. That surprised me, as I had assumed having matching trim throughout the house was best. If you have to switch trim colour for the bath, one side of the door is painted to match one trim colour, the other side is painted the other trim colour and the door jam is painted the trim colour of the room it swings into. Based on this advice we are going one shade crisper white in the baths as a crisper white was more appropriate to the hard finishes we chose for the baths, but a warmer white was more appropriate to the counter top and other finishes we are choosing for the kitchen and adjoining rooms.

Could it be that Lynda Reeves is not speaking about cabinets and trim but how to decorate other rooms all in white. I have not read anything from Lynda Reeves. I believe I read about using different whites creating textures if you are doing say a living room in whites.

It is frustrating when colour experts have different opinions.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Gah...sorry I think I have lead you all down the wrong path with my description and for that I apologize.

I want to paint the cabinets in SW extra white to match the current trim and the walls will be divine white. One person said no as extra white is "cool" and divine white is "warm" and the other said yes because SW extra white goes with all...these are both color experts within Sherwin Williams Sorry if I confused you all.

So if I understand the points made, as long as my cabs and trim match and being as I am using SW extra white I should be okay with the divine white walls and my cabinets wont look green or purple or pink etc??


    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elraes Miller

I got so tired of looking at white samples, the paint distributor happened to be there and gave me a free sample book. I was so pleased and then got home to become confused again.

All those colors to play with, I ended up jumping the boat and chose by common names...Off White for walls and Bright White for trim, doors and ceiling. Sounds dull, but gratefully turned out being the right choices. The off white is not what was remembered of yore, nor antique white which was my original direction. The colors used still have undertones at times of day and lighting. But all goes well with my home. And a wonderful change from gray/beige after 14 years of living in 2 homes with this. My house feels so much larger, clean and still cozy.

Am not the colorist, but still amazes me how many whites to choose from and how different each looks on walls. I tried the colors suggested here and on other posts, but they just didn't work for me. So many personal choices to deal with in just paint. And I haven't seen a room with suggested colors I didn't like.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 7:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


My apologies for completing missing your original question. Thanks for clarifying it was the wall colour you were debating and not the cabinet and trim colour. Unfortunately, I don't have much of an answer for you on that topic. You said your floor will be wood look tile. What about your counters? If divine white has cream in it so should the counters (assuming the counters are light coloured). Your wall colour should relate to your counters and back splash. Does divine white relate? Is the space open concept? If so, what is going on colour wise in the other rooms?


    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ontario, Yes its the walls.

The kitchen is open to the dining room. The counters have not been chosen yet but will definitely go with the wall color. I am trying to decide to do all beigey granite or a granite perimeter and butcher block walnut color on the island

So it would be dining room and kitchen walls in divine white and trim for both in SW extra white and the cabinets extra white as well. Island would be a stained wood to break up the white a bit. Hope that helps

Technicolor I hear you on the colors....give me like 10 to chose from and I am cool....put me in the paint store and I will spend 3 hours vacillating over a color. I have gotten it down to picking 10 samples bringing them home and then getting the hubby to help out. Color is not my strong point but I can spot a crooked stud from a mile away lol.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2014 at 11:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


It will be so much easier to choose your paint colour after you choose your counter (there are tons of paint colours and only so many counters). Your plan sounds lovely.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 12:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lori A. Sawaya

One person at the SW call in color experts stated it was fine with the correct lighting and the other said no as extra white is a cool white and divine white is a warm white. I know there is no umber in the extra white but I thought it was one of those colors that went with anything.

"White" paint colors aren't white.

They're all colors and each belongs to a hue family. All of them. And just like more chromatic (or colorful) colors, the basics of color relationships to create harmonious color schemes still apply.

It gets super challenging when a paint color is so close to a "true" white that it's hard to detect any hue at all in order to distinguish what hue family it belongs to.

The same can be said for gray and black. When paint colors are so near a true neutral gray or black, it's really hard to identify hue family.

Color relationships and schemes hinge on hue family, right? So if you don't know the hue family, it's impossible to purposefully coordinate colors.

Colors of white, however, have an extra, added challenge. When the chromaticity (amount of colorfulness) is super low, the tiniest differences (in hue, value and chroma) matter a lot.

I'm going to use three colors as an example: Sherwin Williams' Pure White, Extra White and Ceiling White. They all belong to the Green-Yellow hue family. Seriously, they do. Not kidding. Take a look at the numbers:

Hue 0.87GY - Value 9.3676443 - Chroma 0.327977538

Hue 5.11GY - Value 9.448748589 - Chroma 0.224431425

Hue 9.12GY - Value 9.297595978 - Chroma 0.222947001

Don't panic. The image attached below plots these differences on a color wheel:

-Pure White has the most chroma and its position within the hue family, 0.87GY, is closest to the neighboring hue family, Yellow.

-Extra White is in the middle in terms of both the amount of chroma as well as its position, 5.11GY, in the Green-Yellow hue family.

-Ceiling White has the least amount of chroma. Therefore, it looks the most "grayed" and "cool". Plus, its position of 9.12GY means it is very close to the neighboring Green hue family.

When you compare Pure White to Ceiling White, Pure White will look "warmer" than Ceiling White. Again, Pure White is close to the Yellow hue family and Ceiling White is close to the Green hue family - which explains why Pure White will look warmer. Looking at the image below, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

As you might imagine, comparison and context is crucial when it comes to colors of white paint.

Next, let's take a look at Divine White:

Hue 1.36Y - Value 8.870009422 - Chroma 1.16972518

It belongs to the Yellow hue family. It's position of 1.36Y means that it is very near the Yellow-Red (or orange) hue family. So it is indeed a "warm" white and will likely show as "warm" in most contexts.

Divine White's chroma is more than 1 and that indicates that seeing some chroma or colorfulness should be pretty easy. If you can pull a chip to look at it, you'll see this is true.

So, what about Divine White and Extra White together?

Hue 1.36Y - Value 8.870009422 - Chroma 1.16972518
Hue 5.11GY - Value 9.448748589 - Chroma 0.224431425

They work just fine together and here's why. Extra White's position of 5.11GY means that it is * just close enough * to Divine White's hue family of Yellow to work. Much farther past that point of 5.11 and the color combination of Divine White and Extra White would be iffy at best.

Technically, Pure White would be a better choice to go with Divine White because it is closer in proximity to Divine White - but, again, Extra White is close enough and should be perfectly fine. Testing the colors together in the space should easy any worries.

If you're still with me, you've probably already put it together that in comparison, ceiling white being so close to the Green hue family, is too far away from Divine White in the Yellow hue family to work well.

In summary:

- You can find a "white" from every hue family - maybe not from just one paint brand, but they are out there.

- Sometimes what matters more than hue family relationships is the white paint color's amount of chroma or colorfulness. The color could be knocked back so close to a "true" white that the factor of hue becomes diluted in context of adjacent colors. It depends. You have to be careful. Your eyeballs might not pick up any trace of hue from the paint chip, but the space's inherent light will "see" it in a test swatch. This is why testing colors in situ is crucial.

- Don't ever look at the paint formula to try to determine anything about a paint color because the formula means absolutely nothing.

- When it comes to warm and cool, it truly all depends. If someone tells you the "rule" is to not mix warm and cool colors, they are full of crap. Mother Nature mixes warm and cool and so far it seems to be working.

A picture is worth 1,000 words.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 2:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Elraes Miller

I bought a true white without any mixing of other colors. It turned out to be exactly what I wanted...thankfully. The off white wasn't exactly what I was after, but on the walls has turned out to be great in combination with the true white. Although it is interesting that painting over beige the off white is a totally different color than painting over white. I thought painting the trim and cove ceiling all one color would make the room look larger. Somewhere a couple of people have done this with success, so I took a chance. The ceiling is definitely a different shade than the walls and won't work. Am painting both in true white. Although I did paint my son's room entirely in a beige and it looks great, no cove ceiling though and the light is totally different.

Bundy, the stores put out paint cards to draw our attention, I think it is a marketing ploy. I knew there was a catalog of colors which showed every color available together, rather than 4 whatever matching they offer on those little cards. Blues, greens, reds, whites, etc. are grouped together in chapter form. This made it so much easier to see all the whites together and find what I was after. The catalog is behind their barrier to you, one has to ask to see it.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 7:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That was an educational post, funcolors. Where can a customer get that information to see where a white is plotted (or any other color for that matter)? I wondered how SW Alabaster aligns with the other whites you discussed?

O.T. Funcolors, I sure wish you would chime-in on my thread on master bedroom decor as combining colors is challenging me in that room.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 9:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lori A. Sawaya

Even the plain paint base with zero colorant added starts out with some degree or lean of hue. Might be red (pink). Might be blue. Might be gray.

You never know. And since formulas are constantly changing, one week it might lean blue and the next, green. Plus, sometimes reformulations are publicized but most of the time they're not; keeping up on all that across all brands would be a herculean effort.

Three things to remember are: 1) this is why there is no such thing as "pure" or "true" white, 2) this contributes to why reading formulas is moot, 3) this contributes to why it's sometimes impossible to get Paint Brand A's paint color matched using Paint Brand B's paint base.

Hue - 5.45Y Value - 9.299163818 Chroma - 0.609335899

Alabaster is from the middle of the Yellow hue family with a healthy amount of chroma at .609. Which means a normal human color acuity should easily see its character and the signature of yellow - or creamy - will likely hold out in most contexts and light sources.

I plot colors manually, there isn't ready-made reference source. Sometimes I have the color notation directly from the manufacturer and sometimes I have to calculate it.

I love working with Dunn-Edwards and Glidden especially because they provide color notations in addition to LRVs.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


You have quite the eye for colour. Thanks for your info.


    Bookmark   September 1, 2014 at 4:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

WOW Funcolors. Thanks so much for your detailed post. It makes a whole lot more sense to me now. I will go with the divine on the walls and extra white for the trim. Based on what you said for the ceiling I think I may just really tone back the divine white and have that on the ceilings. Not sure of the correct term but where they make the same color lighter. I cannot thank you enough for your information both here and elsewhere on the site. Appreciate the time you take to explain why and not just a "yes" or a "no"

    Bookmark   September 2, 2014 at 1:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lori A. Sawaya

No problem.

Thanks to the interwebs there is a wealth of misinformation propagated about how color works. I do what I can to set it straight. Unfortunately, doing so requires rather long explanations. Big color questions, will have big answers.

Out there on the interwebs and in blogosphere I am definitely outnumbered by the color confused. Even tho they have the best intentions, they don't always have the best information or most accurate facts about color.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2014 at 8:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi - Noticed this thread - I'm painting a majority of my walls with SW Divine White and using SW Alabaster for the Ceiling/Trim/Kitchen Cabinetry. What are people's thoughts on this? Will there be enough of a contrast? My home gets alot of natural light.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2015 at 8:26AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
What wall color with these woods?
Helping a friend on her bedroom. Right now the wall...
Where on Fence for Exterior Closet
I'm purchasing a "shed closet" to be installed...
Carrie B
Area Rugs - Will Viscose rug last?
Hi, I am in the midst of redecorating my LR & DR....
House exterior - cedar siding alternative?
I love the look of horizontal cedar slats, and would...
Photoshop Help with my exterior remodel!
Help! I want to remodel the exterior of my house. I...
Sponsored Products
Signal Floor Lamp - SI833 - Jielde
$668.00 | HORNE
Pre-owned Mid-Century Rocking Lounge Chairs - A Pair
Windster RA-60TB Series Range Hood Ductless Kit - RA-60TBDK
$55.00 | Hayneedle
AC-130U Gunship IV - AC130TR
$159.06 | Hayneedle
Pre-owned George Whitman Red and Yellow Sunset Oil Painting
$450.00 | Chairish
Loft Floor Lamp - D1200 - Jielde
$1,252.00 | HORNE
Signal Zig-Zag Floor Lamp - SI433 - Jielde
$668.00 | HORNE
Butler Avignon Solid Wood Chairside Table - 2755288
$209.00 | Hayneedle
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™