Benjamin Moore's Color of 2016 and how it goes great with art

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore

For those who haven't heard yet, our friends at BM decided that the color of 2016 is Simply White OC-117. 

I've heard a few people say- "White? Can white really be the color? Is it even a color?". 

I would say it's not the absent of color, because every white has an undertone of some color. For example, you can have a warm white (undertone of red or yellow) and a cool white (undertone of blue/violet). But I would say that Simply White clearly a neutral. And why does everyone like neutrals? Because they go with everything!

Especially art.

I'm going to tackle what other colors look good with art, but today I'm going to start with the basic white background.

Image of the Menil Museum in Houston, TX

Why is white the main color in galleries? The two main reasons are: 

1. To make sure the colors in the pieces are the most dramatic thing on the wall. They want it to "punch" you in the face, or let the subtleness of the piece not be crowded out with other colors.

2.They also want your eyes to be visually "resting" before they look at something. If you had a colorful piece and then the wall between that piece and the next piece was red (which in color theory is a color that causes stimulation/excitement) and then you saw the next piece and the next piece etc....your eyes would get tired really fast. They wouldn't want to look at the 4th piece down the wall because they would be fatigued from the change in colors. Since galleries are usually one long wall, you have to walk along it to look at the art (thus making your eyes tired going from color to color to color).

Note: In your home if you have a large wall that you paint red and then hang a piece of art, it's a completely different effect (and I'll explain that later). 

But who wants to live in a sterile gallery? You want to live in a home that feels like a gallery but without the sterile part. And white can feel sterile. So how do you use white in your home without feeling like you live in "blank" walls? 

Add color! 

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful. Designed by Christina Murphy Pisa and Nina Carbone

Photo courtesy of House Beautiful. Designed by Christina Murphy Pisa and Nina Carbone

I love how when you have simple walls, you can really play up colorful art work. Since it's the main color point in the room, it not only draws people's eyes to it, but it's actually a little easier to incorporate your artwork's colors into your room. 

This NY apartment featured in House Beautiful is a great example of this. The whole place is white but the room colors are simple and brought in through the art and then translated into the rest of the room. I love the little pops of purple with the golden yellow (and it may be because I went to a school in Baton Rouge, LA).

This house it the opposite of sterile- despite all the walls being white. If you are trying to figure out if you should paint your room all white (and don't want the all white looking room), but not sure about the overall look I would ask you this- Do you have other strong pieces of color in the room? 

You want to make sure you have a couple of prominent wall pieces that have color in them and then use that as the jumping off point of for the rest of the room.

And notice how in these rooms they use a lot of small patterns and textures. When you have a limited palatte you have to have materials like velvet, grasscloth, laquer, wood, mirror, seagrass to create interest. If they were all cotton or linen it would be "flat" feeling and wouldn't look as good. 

I would say that OC-117 Simply White is going to be used a lot this year. And even though neutral is the main trend, I would suggest you use some art to give your walls some bold contrast. GO big or GO home, right?