How to Choose The Right White Paint
White is white is white – right? Not quite. Before you drive yourself crazy trying to figure out which white is right for you, ask yourself two questions: first, where am I putting this white? Will it be on the walls, trim and cabinetry, or the ceiling? Is the room in question dark, or is it bathed in natural light? Second, what kind of mood do I want this white to portray? Whites can make a room feel crisp and contemporary, warm and welcoming, or even stiff and sterile. What’s your preference? Once these questions are answered, you can begin your journey to find your perfect white.
Walls are welcoming to a wide variety of shades of white; the key decision is how you want the room to feel. If you’re partial to traditional styles and soft colors, a creamy, off-white like Sherwin-Williams’ Antique White, Benjamin Moore’s Linen White, or Farrow & Ball’s Pointing might be for you. The only caveat with warm colors like these is that darker rooms have the tendency to bring white paint’s undertones (whether they’re pink, yellow, or even green) to the forefront. So, if this is the case, but you still crave warmth, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White is a safe bet. It’s warm, but maintains a neutral undertone.
More contemporary homes are great for playing with cooler whites. For a clean, bright feel, seek out Chantilly Lace or White Dove by Benjamin Moore. Farrow and Ball’s All White is another great option if you’re looking for a true, undertone-less variety of white. If modern and museum-esque is your cup of tea, consider Benjamin Moore’s Dune White, which boasts a crisp finish that verges on an extremely light gray.
Not sure where you stand on the spectrum of cool and warm? Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore is the ultimate, classic white. It’s timeless, goes with just about everything, and is loved by – you guessed it – decorators from coast to coast.
Ceilings are often painted a bright white, as this helps the room appear more spacious. Sherwin Williams has made it easy to select a white for your ceiling, with their aptly named Ceiling Bright White. Decorator’s White and, truly, any of the other cooler whites mentioned above, are also great for ceilings. If you want to mix it up, consider using a wash of your wall color on the ceiling. A 10% wash of your wall color can produce a personalized shade of white and create a point of interest while remaining neutral.
Last, but not least, I must address woodwork. White cabinetry is all the rage, but stark white cabinets can make a room feel cold. Atrium White by Benjamin Moore adds the smallest bit of ivory, allowing it to maintain its “white” status without feeling sterile. Trim, on the other hand, can get away with blunt shades, like Benjamin Moore’s Super White or White Wisp. True whites like these can look clean and help add contrast next to any wall or ceiling color (especially wallpaper!).
If you’re not sure, consult a designer! They’ve looked at white paint for longer than they’d probably like to admit, and can help you find your perfect paint. Prefer to do things on your own? Put up a few samples of white on your walls, throw a dart, and let fate take you where it may! (Juuuuust kidding… kind of).