The Right White


Every year at this time I have to get out of town. It was Seafair in Seattle, when Blue Angels buzz us from overhead. I had stopped by our house-on-the-market to open windows, water plants, mow the lawn and pull a few weeds. Gardening at sixty miles an hour, I call it. When the I 90 bridge was closed for their practice runs, I knew the Blue Angels were right on my tail.

We are moving to the ends of the earth, a world away in The San Juan Islands, and sometimes I can’t make it out there fast enough.

Now, where were we?

Our island house had been gutted and stripped down to a bare canvas. The ceilings were primed and sheetrock walls taped and mudded. It was all like so much white bread. And as much as I hungered for color, what I had to do was find the right white for the walls.

I also knew that there is no such thing as “the right white.” That is why there are more varieties of white than clouds in the sky or fish in the sea. My pockets were full of paint chips, and walls splotched with tests. Finding the right white can take a year off one’s life.

Nothing was right. Every white turned either pink or yellow or green if you looked at it wrong.

I closed my eyes and remembered the way I felt in my friend’s house on another island. Serene is the word. Despite the fact that her home was custom designed by the esteemed architect, Thomas Bosworth, whereas our house is a remodeled modular, I attributed nearly everything to the color her architect appointed for this and for all his residences. Described in Western Interiors as “a gentle white and virtually shadowless,” that was the white I wanted.

But the formula for “Bosworth White” is a guarded secret. I know because my friend tried to get it for me.

Our walls are done now. In the hopes of saving a year of someone else’s life, Benjamin Moore’s “White Dove” came the closest. Although I still don’t think it’s anywhere near.


Filed under white

4 responses to “The Right White

  1. The color of clouds, a glass of milk, a piece of paper waiting for words, polar bears, robes in a spa, sea gulls, houses on Mykonos, a line dividing the asphalt; innocence, small lies, purity, padded rooms in asylums for people searching too long for the perfect white…

  2. The artistry of your words. How I love this, Lynn.

  3. Alexander Finn

    Ah……Kimmy, your house-on-the-market you’re calling it. You’ll hurt your feelings saying that. Your charming home on the hill, green and quite proud deserves better than that. Perhaps its’s the contrast your trying for. Perhaps there will be a blog with a sentimentally crafted tear. Gratitude. Perhaps you just cannot please everyone.

    I love it, gardening at 60 mph. I’ll trade that for the, mow, blow and go, we have here any breezy morning.

    I have to laugh over Lynn Grant’s out-of-the ordinary names. Small lies I like. The padded rooms for those who agonize a bit too much I find quite curious. There is a little part of the human brain up front that is very involved with creativity and, here’s the important part, with maintaining that creativity long enough to make it just so, fine art, if you will. Maintaining that obsessive desire for perfection finding just the right white, long enough, days and more, perhaps, to bring your creation to beautiful fruition. We all get creative ideas but for most of us, they are fleeting because of the tediousness required to keep going over the same old ground, examining the multitude of whites until you either find it, in which case you are an artistic genius, or you do not, in which case you spin in. But that creative spark must be kept alive. Depression helps to do this some say. Others turn to alcohol or drugs. It is no wonder so many artists and others on the cutting edge of music, R&D, writers are so full of tears and never far from the bottle or the padded walls.

    Whoops, sorry to go on and on, Lynn’s eyes are probably rolling back in her head and others are headed for the glass of wine ’til I’m gone. But, I think it’s called the dorsal lateral, pre-frontal cortex, it’s the last part of the human brain to come online at about ten years old. It acts as an inhibitor to creativity. It makes us conform not create. Creative folks learn to shut it off, subconsciously if they want to produce anything really good. Check it out for yourself.

    I like the addition of the company description you offered up something about the white being “virtually shadowless.” Virtually meaning nearly as opposed to being pure? Same root word huh? Virtue that has no shadow. Virile white? Virtuoso, having considerable skill in a fine art, interior design perhaps.

    When my wife and I are going crazy over just the right color and their names, one of us will debase the entire experience by suggesting we take any color that has the word, Nantucket, in it. Hi dee ho.

    You’ll get it right cousin. I’ll bet not a single guest will leave your island home with the whispered words, “Did you notice how wrong that white was that she picked for the walls,”

    My best to you and Paul,

    Al Finn

  4. Elizabeth Yourgrau

    I feel the same way about the color yellow.

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