96 Shades of White

When it comes to crafting a neutral palette, all white is alright.

The breakfast bar, outfitted with LED lighting and electrical outlets, is concealed behind pocket doors.
The breakfast bar, outfitted with LED lighting and electrical outlets, is concealed behind pocket doors.
Photo by Laura Moss

The neutral palette and calming vibe of designer Amy Yin’s kitchen is right on trend. “Neutrals, including a wide range of whites, are naturally soothing,” says Yin.

There are 96 shades of white, says designer Robin Wilson, author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle (Greenleaf, 2015). Wilson says exploring the subtle differences in white is a top design trend for 2016.

Several paint companies have embraced this neutral palette. Benjamin Moore calls 2016 “the year of white.” The New Jersey-based paint giant named Simply White its color of the year, describing it as an elegant, sophisticated and refined choice. “There’s an honesty in white,” says Eileen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore’s creative director. “White doesn’t go in and out of style.”

At Sherwin-Williams, Alabaster—a mix of cream and ivory—is the color of 2016. “It provides an oasis of calmness,” says Jackie Jordan, the paint maker’s director of color marketing.

Farrow & Ball, a boutique paint company offering a palette of 132 hues—in contrast to Benjamin Moore’s 3,500 colors and 1,500 from Sherwin-Williams—added nine new colors for 2016, including two off-whites, Shadow White and Drop Cloth, both light neutrals without yellow undertones.

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