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off white living room wood flooring

Does off-white sound boring as a color trend? It’s not! There are dozens of uses for it in your home. Here are some prime examples of how to use it.

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The 2015 Pantone Color of the Year was Marsala, a dark, drab, wine color. I was not crazy about it. It has its place, but it was nothing I would want to use, except maybe for a pair of shoes.

Pantone has not announced their 2016 Color of the Year, but the paint companies have. The 2016 trend is off-white, and I am really excited about this! Off-white is something I can work with and have been for decades.

Off-white walls with dark-stained wood trim created the look in two of my favorite rental houses. They make the perfect backdrop for color surprises in furniture, textiles, and accents. The living room in a Craftsman bungalow I lived in had off-white walls, turquoise trim, and hardwood floors. It was a beautiful combination.

What to do with off-white

Color freaks are not happy about this seemingly non-color being given so much attention. I’m a color freak, and I love it. White and off-white are timeless and elegant, and they have dozens of uses.

If a room has interesting architectural details, a white will show them off. Light creates shadows that define beams, lattice, brick, or hand-carved trim.

White walls and dark woodwork or furniture make for high contrast and a very sharp look. Think black and white.

Contemporary Family Room by Atlanta Interior Designers & Decorators Dillard Pierce Design Associates

If high contrast is not your style, it can be softened with lighter woodwork, and muted neutrals, such as brown, gray, and other whites. If that is too devoid of excitement, use a splash of color in a centerpiece.

For an even subtler look, pair off-white walls with pastel furniture, trim, and accessories. A room like this has a gentle, soft, and non-invasive feel.

A monochromatic color scheme

A white monochromatic color scheme sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but there are hundreds of off-whites. They are warm, cool, crisp, creamy, red, blue, green, yellow, purple, gray, brown, and everything in between! Off-white is the essence of a hue. You can create a warm or cool off-white room through your choice of ‘essence’.

Aside from painting the walls, you can create visual interest and texture with airy white curtains. Anything with texture will create shadows, which adds depth to an all white room. As the light changes during the day, so will the look of the room. The lighting you choose will create shadows at night that you don’t see during the day.

Make your off-white walls stand out with a white ceiling or trim. The texture and details of white or whitewashed furniture will stand out when placed against an off-white wall.

I think the choices are unlimited for off-white paint, either in a high contrast situation or an all-white room. How could color freaks not want to play with the hundreds of colors available?!

The paints

Last year, Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year was the very light Guilford Green. I had said it was so gentle, it would be as versatile as off-white. This year, the Benjamin Moore Color of the Year is Simply White, a warm and creamy off-white. According to their website, white is complex with subtle beauty, creates definition, and shows off texture and color. I agree!

Glidden’s Cappuccino White is soft, warm, and creamy, creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Behr’s 2016 Color Forecast is a variety of colors to create ‘sensory stimulation’ that can be lacking in our hi-tech lives. Ivory Keys is their off-white Color of the Year. It is crisp and neutral, coordinating well with warm or cool colors.

Sherwin Williams’ Color Forecast, Pura Vida, is of warm and simple colors inspired by nature. Alabaster, a neutral color suitable for all applications, is their off-white 2016 Color of the Year.

Paint shopping

I love to look at paint chips! Color fascinates me.

Visit a paint or hardware store, and browse through the cards. Notice the colors you like, and look at the lightest one to see if it is off-white. If it’s too dark, don’t worry! That tint will pair up with off-whites of the same temperature.

There are also cards of whites and off-whites. Explore them all. Bring them home, and see what works best in your different rooms, taking into consideration room size, natural light, and artificial lighting.

Have fun!

Most of all, have fun! Paint is an inexpensive way to transform a space in a short period of time. Off-white is timeless, so you can get trendy with your accessories as seasons change.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.