White paint when done right can be one of the most beautiful and versatile paint color combinations. But for the untrained eye, picking out a good white out of hundreds of choices is a tough task and quite frankly, is a complete headache. There’s no such thing as one shade of white paint. There’s eggshell, cream, ivory, snow, alabaster, and on and on… White paint colors are difficult to select because thought needs to be given to whether a warm or cool tone best suits the room and most importantly, light and lighting conditions must be considered.
Here are some simple tips followed by my favorite three choices.
- Understand the different nuances and undertones of white (cool, warm, bluish, pinkish)
- Determine if objects in the room are cool (choose a cool white) or warm (choose a warm white).
- Assess whether the room gets a lot of natural light (go with a pure white) or little light (go with a more pigmented white).
- Choose a few whites and test large swatches on the walls – at least 8×10 swatches (use posterboard), then look at them at different times of day and see how they react to the light.
Benjamin Moore | Swiss Coffee
A perennial favorite, its creamy undertones keep it from appearing too cold and flat. It adds the right amount of warmth while still feeling crisp and clean. It blends seamlessly with neutrals, natural light, and various woods. It’s beautiful in historical homes where the woodwork is worth being played up or in newer homes to add a sense of age and permanence.
Benjamin Moore | White Dove
Benjamin Moore’s White Dove is the company’s top-selling white, consistently ranking in the top 10 most popular colors. White Dove OC-17 is a designer’s best friend. It’s soft and bright, but not blinding. It provides a gentle contrast and “pop” to any color you put with it, so it is my go-to color for walls, trim, cabinetry, and other millwork. It is white with a subtle hint of gray that keeps it from being too cold and stark. At first glance, it appears to be pure white but it’s not. Use it as your baseline sample white to see if you need to go darker or lighter.
Sherwin Williams | Alabaster
Alabaster is neither stark nor overly warm, but rather an understated and alluring hue of white. While it stands well by itself, it pairs well with light blushes or grays. It has a warmth to it but it isn’t overly creamy.