It doesn’t just look pretty—this popular paint shade has some secret superpowers.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated: July 11, 2019

White paint is having a years-long moment in the spotlight, and its popularity might just keep going—but this popular paint color isn’t just pretty. You may not have been able to quite put your finger on it, but white paint does a few things for its surroundings that other paint colors don’t. Call these benefits visual effects or design principles or white paint superpowers; they are one of many reasons you see white paint so often, and likely have helped white paint stay so popular for so long.

Wall painting is pretty subjective, so white paint might not be right for your space or lifestyle; there are plenty of dark paint colors out there that are just as beautiful on walls, trim, ceilings, and more. But if you’re trying to decide if you want to paint your walls white, these extra benefits of using the color from Leigh Spicher, national director of design studios for homebuilder Ashton Woods, might just push you closer to making a decision. (If that is the case, the next step is learning how to pick a white paint color.) And if you’re staunchly a fan of more colorful paint colors, at least you’ll have some smart design facts to share at your next dinner party.

1. It clears visual clutter

“White just clears your mind,” Spicher says. “It makes you a little bit more relaxed, and it gives you a little bit of space in your mind to make good choices.”

As the absence of color, white serves as a blank slate. Spicher uses it in her studio as a foundation because it makes it easier to choose other colors for décor, furnishings, and more; in a room with white walls, picking complementary colors for the other items in the space is a little bit easier than it might be in, say, a room with pink walls. If you struggle to pull a room together, starting with white walls might make it all a little bit easier.

2. It offers an illusion of space

A lot of people are using white paint to create the illusion of space, Spicher says, to make rooms feel larger than they are.

“If you’re working in a smaller space, [white paint] immediately will make it feel larger,” she says. “If you’re working in a large space, it will open it up even more.”

3. It makes us feel good

Maybe this should have been white paint superpower number one—who doesn’t want to feel good, after all?

Picture the white flag, the white wedding dress, the white dove: In the psychology of color, white symbolizes peace and purity, Spicher says, feelings most people are drawn to.

“People just might not cognitively realize that white is actually the presence of light,” she says. “White gives us a lot of light in our homes, and that makes us feel good.”

So there you have it: White paint can do a lot more than make your wall look fresh. Bring it into your home, and you might be able to take advantage of some of these surprising superpowers, too.

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