Guest blog written by designer Lisa Janvrin of YouthfulNest.

One might think that painting your room “white” is due to a lack of imagination or because it’s easy. While in fact it’s probably the hardest color to get right.

When I use the term “white” it refers to a wide range of the palest hues that can reflect a hint of brown, gray, blue, gold or even pink. Which is why selecting just the perfect “white” is such a challenge.

I recently experienced this challenge myself working on a client’s room makeover. My client Liz is the co-founder of LittleList.com and came to YouthfulNest for help transforming an existing guest room into a soothing nursery to welcome home and care for their second child, a baby boy. The four walls of this large room were covered in wide vertical pink stripes. There was also a custom sky mural painted on the ceiling by previous owners in a mix of baby blue and billowy white clouds. Liz dreamt of a much lighter, cozy space full of calming neutrals and pops of rich dark accents. So why did she second guess the lightness of the three Colorhouse “whites” I presented in her YouthfulNest color consult?

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(Client room before painting)

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(Client color consult)

A less than positive reaction to seeing “white” sample colors, which at first glance seem to be all the same, is understandable. Or a slightly panicked feeling to an empty room that has been freshly painted in the palest of colors is also a common client reaction. It’s not until you start installing furniture and layering in décor that you see the benefit of “white”. White is the backdrop to show off all those wonderful furnishings and décor pieces you meticulously picked out. The key to curating a cozy neutral room that is painted “white” without it feeling cold or sterile is in the styling. Choose pieces in various shades of white, cream and even touches of taupe or gray. Selecting room décor with texture, pattern and different finishes also adds warmth to any space.

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(Final nursery room design/Style Board)

For Liz’s nursery I was also up against an additional challenge – her beautiful existing furniture for the nursery was previously painted in a light ivory, so the concern I had was making sure the pieces were slightly defined against the walls and didn’t blend right into the background.

I first purchased a sample of the dresser paint color and three Colorhouse sample paints in BISQUE .01, AIR .01, and The Land of Nod, Marshmallow. I painted a large scrap of white base molding with three coats of the ivory furniture color. Next, on a separate piece of scrap molding I painted sections of the three Colorhouse colors leaving some space in between each color so I could clearly see each shade. Then I watched the paint dry. Literally. Be sure the paint is completely dry before passing judgment. Also make sure and give your sample swatches at least a couple coats to be sure you get the most accurate result.

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(The bottom board color is her existing furniture with three Colorhouse samples above)

These are the five considerations I use when deciding on a paint color and should help you when picking your perfect “white” (or really any paint color):

1. Consider your room style, is it modern, bohemian, vintage etc.?

2. What’s the overall vibe you want in this space? Should it feel sophisticated, edgy, cozy, etc.?

3. Look at painted sample colors up close and from across the room. It’s amazing how you start to clearly see the subtle difference between them.

4. Look at sample colors next to the main colors of your furniture and decor pieces that you will have in the room. Notice how the colors play off each other.

5. Lastly, live with it. Give yourself a couple days to experience these new colors. Notice the way the color samples look in natural lighting, artificial room lighting, dusk, dawn and everything in between. You’ll start seeing more and more nuances of the colors and their undertones. You’ll be able to see which ones look bright, nutty, golden, or even pinkish.

I went through these five considerations for the three “whites” for Liz’s room until I saw a clear winner, well actually I still couldn’t decide so tested a fourth color. I admit for this sweet baby boy’s room I desperately wanted to use The Land of Nod color Marshmallow. In the end I wound up not going with any of my original three colors and choose the fourth, Colorhouse IMAGINE .02. It was just a touch paler then all my original selections and would ensure a better pairing with her existing furniture.

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(Freshly painted room in Colorhouse, IMAGINE .02)

As it turns out, the client fell in love with her light “white” walls and the overall serene feeling they created in her new beautiful nursery. (Shoooo!)

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com

YouthfulNest nursery makeover for the LittleList.com
(Admiring the new nursery with the client)

Photo Credit: Rich Alfonzo

— Lisa Janvrin, YouthfulNest