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Color expert Cristina Acosta talks about white paint colors

Benjamin Moore’s 2016 Color of the Year is a Safe Bet for an Election Year

Will the 2016 election year be a white-out or a clean start? It’s impossible to say what the future holds, and one color that can swing in most any stylistic direction says it all – White. Benjamin Moore Paints, a U.S. paint coatings company based on the East Coast recently announced their choice of the “Color of the Year.” Welcome, Simply White OC 117, to the top of the color sample pile.

Simply White is a beautiful warm white paint color (which means it has a golden yellow undertone). Is it intrinsically more amazing than the other 250+ shades of white in the Benjamin Moore color palette? No. Similar Benjamin Moore whites, such as Snowfall White OC-118, Mountain Peak White OC-121, Cotton Balls OC-122, and Cloud Nine OC-119 are just as lovely.

Just like a menu listing or a book title, the name says it all. Can you imagine “Cotton Balls” as the color of the year? It’s a name stuck in the baby’s bathroom. Mountain Peak and Cloud Nine carry names just a bit too aspirational and over-reaching for a country dealing with the many shades of gray born of economically doubtful times.

So, Simply White it is. Its a gently optimistic name defining a white the color of whole-milk. But don’t let the name fool you. Layer whites of texture and shape and various temperatures (bluish whites, peach whites, mauve whites, etc.) and white can transform from a neutral clean slate to an aggressive assertion of pure dominance. Context is everything.

How you use a color is as important as which color you choose. Like the twenty six letters of the English alphabet, it’s the combinations that count. How a color is placed in a room, the quantities of that color, the architecture of that room, the latitude and longitude of that room, and the time and place that room occupies in human history are all influencing how the person or people in that room perceive the color.

If you are a real estate developer or a car manufacturer, learning that white is the new “It Color,” in the world of design might give you some peace of mind. Nothing about the phrase, “paint it white” seems risky or edgy. It’s been done before. And it never seemed to really bother anybody. Investments are safe and bets are hedged. If thoughts of beige and gray add to one’s free-floating anxiety, white is the panacea.

And, there is a lot to be anxious about. Global climate change, economic downturns, water scarcity, rising sea levels, species die-offs and human greed have weighted all of us with uncertainty. It’s time to settle in, minimize distractions and make changes that reduce pain and suffering. “We” is no longer just humanity. All species are connected.

Though there might be a bit of hubris defining the “color of the year” for 318 million Americans, anticipating what those Americans will want next year is not only fun, its big business. Hubris becomes self confident forecasting. Billions of manufacturing dollars follow the color trends and predictions, trickling down to the colors in our homes and on our backs.

A blank white screen or piece of white copy paper is an expanse with the potential to be filled with absolutely anything. White appears simple and open with unlimited possibilities. Solutions are just a page away. Simply White is a perfect election year color defined by an American company projecting a reservedly optimistic future.

Loft home colors red green gold © Cristina Acosta

Rich Wall Colors for a Great Room Loft

Three deep, saturated colors combine in one two-story open loft space. The architecture is inspired by a mid-century modern aesthetic with a Pacific Northwest inspired color palette. The client wanted a color plan that brightened the gray winter days giving their vacation condo a ski lodge feeling.

The two story loft area consisted of the dining area downstairs and an office upstairs. The entire loft area is open to the living room and kitchen and is part of a great-room. The architectural space was complex and mulit-use, which made it a fascinating project. I love architectural projects that are complex juxtapositions of space and structure. Designing a interior color plan is like creating a lovely rubix cube of color you can walk through.

Benjamin Moore Master Color Palette:

  • “Green” Dry Sage 2142-40 (eggshell)
  • “Gold” Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40 (eggshell)
  • “Red” Rhubarb 2007-30 (eggshell)

Kitchen – Walls and ceiling including outside wrap and structure on dining side – Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40

Dining – Walls all the way up stairway wall and North wall to the top  of second story loft– Rhubarb 2007-30. Ceiling in lower dining area — Roasted Sesame Seed 2060-40

Ceiling of Great Room (living, dining, entry) All Dry Sage 2142-40

*note: these particular colors are effective in this particular architectural environment. Test them before using them in your home.


Hire Cristina as your color expert for: Residential, commercial and institutional architectural projects. On site and remote projects welcome. Traveling is an additional option.

Classic taupe and brown neutral wall colors © Cristina Acosta

Warm Gray Taupe Neutral Paint Colors are Calming and Serene

Three mushroom taupe neutral paint colors link the open plan master bedroom suite. Neutral colors can be “neutral” in several different tonal directions. This client’s master en suite bath is a selection of three mushroom taupe neutrals that coordinate beautifully as they merge within the architectural space of the room.

I specified Benjamin Moore Paint colors for this project. Areas of the master bath were open to the bedroom, so the color palette was used throughout the suite. The house is a large adobe style ranch house with contemporary and traditional accents. The color palette we developed for the entire home flowed beautifully in each wing of the home, changing moods with the rooms. It was a lovely project.

View From Master Bedroom into Bath with Rock Pillar and Wood Horse Sculpture:*

Ceiling of bedroom and Bathroom: Benjamin Moore, Whitall Brown HC-69, eggshell sheen.
Walls of Bedroom: Benjamin Moore, Jamesboro Gold HC-88, eggshell sheen.
Bathroom Walls: Benjamin Moore, Bear Creek 1470, eggshell sheen

*note: these particular colors are effective in this particular architectural environment. Test them before using them in your home.


Hire Cristina as your color expert for: Residential, commercial and institutional architectural projects. On site and remote projects welcome. Traveling is an additional option.

Classic Paint Colors ©Cristina Acosta

What’s Your Color Personality?

Originally published in Latina Style magazine, Su Casa home decor column, by Cristina Acosta

Dear Cristina,
I read somewhere that the colors I like tell a lot about my personality and that certain colors can affect my moods. Is it true that you can you tell what a person is like when you see the colors they paint their home? Can color change the way I feel?
J. Vigil

It’s certainly true that color, like music can encourage a particular mood or express an attitude. Don’t get carried away with the symbolic meanings of color just yet.  Often a lackluster color scheme is the result of a lack of confidence or knowledge of the design world, not a commentary on one’s character.
If people choose colors with as much confidence as they choose their music, you’d definitely get more of a sense of who they are when you view the results. Far more people are confident about their taste in music that are sure of their color sense.  Because of that, many people are afraid to experiment with color and often will choose colors for their home that seem safe – These are usually colors that they think other people will approve.

It’s time for a change. It’s time to ask yourself – What is my color personality?
Doty Horn, the Director of Color at Benjamin Moore Company says, “The trend is going to the individualizing of the color palette so that the person choosing it has a sense of ownership. This is who I am. This is my personality.”Johns Home-Livingroom.jpg
Just as we all don’t dance to the same tunes, colors don’t have the exact same effect on everyone. You may find that a color you love in one place doesn’t work at all in another location, whether that’s another room or another home. It’s the same thing that happens when a favorite album cut just doesn’t suit your mood at the moment, or you lose interest in it completely. As you change along with the world around you, so does your perception of color.

Josette Buisson, the Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Paints says“…conclusions (about color) are drawn from more subjective considerations, like the impact of technology on our life, our self-definition, and our relationships to one another.” She has developed a program for Pittsburgh Paints that links color choices to personality tendencies.

Though there is certainly scientific evidence that people in the same culture tend to share their response to certain colors, there are many exceptions. I love vibrant reds and use them in a variety of rooms in my home. Someone else may
experience red as over-stimulating and upsetting. Don’t take color advice verbatim.

Take a chance and experiment. Color is one of the most inexpensive design elements you can bring into your home. It is also the most powerful way you can express your personal home style.

So take time to discover which colors really grab you – not just the colors you think you “should” like. Peruse the websites of paint companies. Head to the store and collect paint chips of any color you’re interested in. When you have at least a few dozen samples, you’ll start to see a trend. Often you’ll surprise yourself when you see which colors you like.

Follow you heart and be brave with color. Whatever the result, when you surround yourself with your creative choices you will always feel energized and interested in your world.

These two pictures are from the same Hacienda-style home. For this formal yet friendly living room my clients chose colors in a subdued monochromatic palette of browns and golds. These colors express a calm and relaxed yet lush attitude. Bath, Green Project: Johns.jpg

A fiesta of color brightens the guest bath. The guest suite is down the hall from the more formal living room. Don’t be afraid to change moods throughout the house. Staying within the Hacienda concept, my clients were able to include more than one color palette.

Benjamin Moore Company   www.benjaminmoore.com
Pittsburgh Paint www.voiceofcolor.com
Article first published in Latina Style magazine