Take a look in any paint fan deck, no matter what brand; there are over 10 whites alone! Let's look at one of my favorite brands, Benjamin Moore- they offer "subtle nuances of white" in their white dove, super white, decorators white, atrium white, white, antique white, linen white, china white and that is just to name a few. They have an entire White and Off-White collection of 140 soft hues with a wide range of whites and off whites. Some are pure white, some have a touch of grey ( Jerry Garcia would love that!), some have peach undertones, or blue. I remember when taking a photography class, one of the assignments was to shoot white eggs on a white background. This meant understanding light, and how to use it - depending on the shadows you would have shades of peach, grey and blue. Now I understand that white is light. It adds a lift and can reflect all the other colors in a room.
Another favorite paint brand for your home is the Donald Kaufman Color Collection. I have found that not many people outside of the design trade know of him. He uses over 12 pigments when mixing his colors. To me he qualifies as designer paint. "The Donald Kaufman Color Collection is known in the decorating trade as the ultimate in designer paint" quoted from The Washington Post, on the Donald Kaufman web site. He offers a beautiful palette, with illuminous colors, ones that add light to your walls. Donald Kaufman's white collection contains 18 different values of white, and they "never add oxides because they diminish the ability of paint to reflect light".
Adding white to a color, any color, cannot only make it lighter, it can make it brighter. White is a wonderful accent for any room. I love to use it on moldings, doors and door frames. When you put it next to a chosen color for the walls, it pops! White gives freshness to a room. White moldings define the parameters of a room – the same white molding throughout a home can be the one color that ties the home together. You can use dark colors in some rooms and light colors in another, but when all the moldings and doors are the same white, it creates continuity throughout the house.
Next time you are in a paint store, browse thru the fan deck to see the possibilities offered in what we call 'white' . I think it will bring a smile to your face after reading this.
The best way to choose which one to use is to determine the feeling you want to have in your home and the colors you may want to surround yourself with. Do you want a pure white or a touch of color? Then choose a white that is most reflective of that!