Do most people paint their closet walls white?

fiddledddOctober 23, 2011

We're finally getting around to painting our master bedroom closet (a thankless task), and we're considering painting the walls a taupe color. We've always used white in the past because we wanted the closets as bright as possible. But from a decorator standpoint, what would be best? We're fixing up the house to sell. This closet adjoins a bedroom and bathroom that are both painted a light taupe color. There is a window in the closet, but it's still a bit dark in there. And the ceiling is painted white. We're going to put in some closet organizers that are also white.

Thank you so much for any guidance about this.

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I would paint it the color of the bedroom. Like most homes, builders usually paint closets/pantry/laundry room
the standard 'builders white'. ;o)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:29AM
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So far we've been painting ours white (as we've renovated each room). Looks clean and bright.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:38AM
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First time we painted rooms in this house we matched the closets. Not anymore. I much prefer white. Agree with cat mom ... looks clean and bright.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:41AM
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I guess I could just use a flat paint the same white color as our painted woodwork. My inclination is to go with white because of brightness, but I thought it would look nicer to use the wall color. Thank you all for your input. I'd be curious to hear from some other folks about the pros and cons of this.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 1:39PM
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I would go with white unless you use the exact color of your bedroom. Getting the right undertone with taupes can be hard.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 3:05PM
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My master closet is a walk-in and you can see a lot of the wall in there, so for continuity sake, I had it painted exactly the same as the bedroom. However the other bedroom closets, linen and coat closet are all white. I didn't want to drive myself crazy emptying and painting closets when I wanted to change wall colors. Plus they are much smaller closets and you can't seem much of the wall to begin with.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

From a visual ergonomic point of view a white closet is the better option because it suits the function of the closet.

Lighting is usually dreadfully under-planned in closets and white closet walls do help reflect whatever illumination there is to work with. And you need abundant light to see into the closet because you need to find things and color coordinate.

White is functionally a better choice. For durability purposes I never spec less than an eggshell for a closet. Sometimes that means buying an additional gallon of paint but it's worth it. Prep and paint a closet right and it will last for many years and transition thru several room color changes. Don't ever skimp on quality of paint for a closet.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 3:43PM
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I think a lot of people (me inclded) paint their closets white because you don't have to empty out the clothes to paint the closet again when you change the wall color of the room. If you did not have doors on your closet, it would be different...but I prefer the cleaness of white and because I would not want to paint them when I change the color of the room.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 4:09PM
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When we painted our bedroom closets we used semi-gloss on the walls as well as trim. Ten plus years later it still looks as good as the day painted.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 4:30PM
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Mine are all the color of the room.

We have NO trouble finding things or color-cordinating outfits, as suggested above.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 5:25PM
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I prefer white, because the color of the closet walls will reflect onto the clothes. Taupe walls will reflect a taupe color onto your clothing. You might not care. But it's a factor to consider.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 5:42PM
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Lots of great suggestions here. Thanks everybody! We never close our closet doors, so the closet is definitely visible from the other rooms that are painted a light taupe. So your point about continuity is good Boysrus2. However, we're going to install a white shelving system (Elfa from the Container Store) anyway, so I guess white makes sense too.

We only have 1 light in the center of the closet, so we're actually thinking of installing 2 can lights, one on each end of the closet. We can do this because there is attic access above this room. So if we do that, we could use the taupe. And funcolors.....your point about using eggshell is right on. Although since we're moving I'm not too worried about the long-term durability. I know it might be better for the new home owners, but we're already spending so much money trying to make the house nice....we can cut corners on little things here and there. Houses in our area aren't selling very quickly, so we're renovating our bathrooms and doing a bunch of costly things. I hope it pays off. :-)

Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 5:51PM
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I have mine painted the room colors as well. I like it and don't think I need to worry about the colors reflecting on the clothes...unless I decide to just stand in the closet after I dress-most of the time, though, I am wearing my clothes outside of the closet area. ;)

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 8:13PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

The color reflectance, its influence and issues with acuity is actually mathematical -- not subjective. Most closets have one fixture and depend on the lumens from one bulb - most often an incandescent. Can be physical considerations as well because it's not reasonable to assume everyone has the same level of color acuity.

i.e One person might have no trouble picking out the navy blue trousers from among a dozen pairs of black trousers. While another may literally have to take several pairs over to a window to make the same color determination.

The case for white closets and visual ergonomics reaches beyond aesthetics. Has some interesting points to explore. As another example, we've noticed here just in this thread is that closets are not repainted as often as rooms. So it's feasible that the chosen color for a closet will span a decade or more.

In ten years time, the average human adult's visual acuity will decrease as the eye ages. Ten years on an eyeball after age 30 is a LONG, hard ten years.

A novel color coordinated turquoise closet would be a fun pop one day and then before you know it, it annoyingly interferes with your deciphering a dark chocolate stripe from a dark forest green stripe.

As with all things color, it depends on WHAT color we're talking about. Midtones aren't going to have the same visual acuity interference issues as a dark saturated color.

And if there is adequate illumination for the square footage and function of the closet, then that will obviously help support the use of color in a closet as well.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 8:37PM
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Yeah - what she said ;-)

Seriously, though, other than something like a guest a coat closet (which can be fun to paint r wallpaper) I like white closet interiors.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 8:50PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Absolutely. Even painting just the top, back of the closet shelves -- there are many creative ways to do color in a closet without compromising function. Definitely a place to have some fun and be creative with color.

And if you can add extra lighting -- BONUS!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 9:13PM
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We painted our closets to match the room, however, we chose light colors for the rooms. So far I don't see a problem, but we are used to rather dark cedar closets which are in the original part of our 1930's house. So the light colors are a real improvement for us.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 9:50PM
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We wallpapered our closet with a beautiful Osborne and Little design that went in the master bathroom. All the cabinetry and crown molding is creamy white as is the ceiling. We put in four can lights and have a five arm chandelier and two mirrors, and neither of us has any trouble discerning black from brown or navy. Some other closets in our house are painted white and some are the room color.... I think white is a good color for a reach-in closet, which is not so big and may look overwhelmingly busy otherwise. A walk-in or large closet/dressing room should be treated---and painted or papered--- like a room, IMO.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 9:58PM
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Good God!
I don't have a living room in my closet, so I've always painted mine white just for simplicity.

The thing I've learned, which is only briefly touched upon previously, is using a semi-gloss. I don't care about the shine, but 99% of the time you don't need to repaint a closet, you just need to scrub off the scrapes and dust.

Whatever color your choose, make it washable! :)


    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 10:22PM
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CEFreeman,, ours isn't a living room either, but it is about 10 x 13, so it feels like a dressing room. My point is, the smaller, the whiter; the larger, the more you **can** do with it.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 8:20AM
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You don't have to! I'd love to paint the inside of my closet a color - thanks for the great spark of inspiration. Found this - I say go for it!

eclectic home office design by san francisco photographer Ed Ritger Photography

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 8:04PM
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