How to Choose the Best White Paint Color Every Time! {Home Decor Ideas}

Millwork, simply white Benjamin Moore , hardwood Floors

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Choose Best White Paint Colors!

You lovers of white decor and mostly white interior design want to know the best white paint colors to paint your walls, and today I am providing help to discover that elusive JUST RIGHT WHITE for your home decor! It’s the most frequent interior design question I am asked as a design and home decor blogger famous for BIG LOVE of inspiring white interior design on the web and in my own home“How do I choose the BEST white paint…What is the perfect white paint for my walls?” Lord, have mercy, I have brought home more cans of white paint than you can shake a paint stirring stick at!

There are hundreds of whites out there, and the white your friend used for her interiors may look all wrong in your space. Why? Your room’s: lighting, decor plan, furnishings, and geographical location all factor into the equation. Your keen eye and personal opinion come into play as well. But don’t despair. There is definitely a JUST RIGHT WHITE paint color for your walls, and I’m going to tenderly guide you through the process of finding it!

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Image Sources: Pinterest (unless otherwise noted)

Romantic white girls bedroom by #Dreamywhites with white walls. #PaperWhite by Benjamin Moore

Wall color: Paperwhite by Benjamin Moore. Photo: Dreamywhites

Our search for a perfect white paint color will take into account: (1) my personal experience with flattering, beautiful white paint colors, (2) design wisdom concerning the process of choosing the best white paint color from smart design sites, and (3) guidance from talented designers and serial decorators we have come to trust.

English Country decor in a serene white cottage style room with Swedish antiques, round table, wing chairs, and empire style crystal chandelier.

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Choose Best White Paint Colors!

Sophisticated, traditional, yet modern for your living room! #Wing Chair

Wing Chair: FIND HERE

How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

1. White Paint Color Advice from my Experience.

I have decades of experience as a serial decorator for dozens of homes for myself and others and a trained eye for color as an artist. What I know for sure is the best white paint color for one particular space may be all wrong for another. For example, the light here in Northern Illinois is completely different than the light in the Southwest. So keep in mind you’ll need to narrow your search for the right white paint color to a handful of tones and then try samples of them on the walls.

In my own home which we have completely renovated ourselves, I tested about five white paint color contenders by painting large swaths on the walls and observing how each color changed throughout the day. All of the whites I chose had very subtle undertones, but a clear winner emerged. We painted all the walls Benjamin Moore “White” which imparts: a modern gallery-like feel, coolness with minimal undertones, crispness, and no yellow cast.

Can you believe the simplicity of the name of this white paint? Yes, it’s WHITE! There’s no chance of forgetting this one, and it was the only white I found which worked with the intense yellow natural light flooding our North-South exposure home. We painted ceilings with the same white color and also the trim (in satin). What a world of difference it made!

Romantic French Country bedroom with knotty alder door and shiplap wall #hellolovelystudio #romanticdecor #FrenchCountry

My bedroom – Wall paint: Benjamin Moore “White” Mirror Paint: Benjamin Moore: Revere Pewter

Rustic farmhouse style stool! #rusticdecor #stool #farmhouse

Rustic farmhouse stool: FIND HERE

Hello Lovely Studio's kitchen

My Kitchen: BM “White” paint – Decor Inspiration: Ultimate Guide to Pick White Paint Colors

Listen. There are paint color experts who will say to not look at photos online to choose a paint color and others who will say it’s the only way. Here’s my two cents: Reviewing photos online (where the white paint color used is given) is a great place to start and so much more helpful than a little swatch from the paint store! If you don’t already have a Pinterest board devoted to best whites, create a board and PIN THIS POST so you’ll have paint names at the ready when you head to the store to buy samples to try on your walls.

Here’s an infographic with a few more of my favorite white and neutral paint colors from Benjamin Moore (including Classic Gray which we just used for a new bathroom we added at the fixer upper!):

Ultimate Guide to Best White Paint Colors! #bestwhite #whitepaint #choosingwhite

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White piano in room with tone on tone decor and a quiet atmosphere. #toneontone #whitepiano

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Pick White Paint Colors!

In our prior French Country style home, Benjamin Moore “White Sand” was my favorite shade of white paint for walls, and Benjamin Moore “Dove Wing” went on all the doors and trim. Benjamin Moore “White Dove” was used for painting my family piano and some furniture.

Dove Wing by Benjamin Moore for a beautiful #whitepaint color for trim

Benjamin Moore “Dove Wing”…Decor Ideas: Best White Paint Colors

Benjamin Moore Pale Oak. I often recommend Benjamin Moore Pale Oak to my clients. It goes perfectly with Benjamin Moore White Dove trim as we can see here. Benjamin Moore Pale Oak #BenjaminMoorePaleOak Kate Abt Design

Walls: BM Pale Oak/Trim: BM White Dove..How to Choose the Best White Paint Color Every Time!

Curvy white chaise with sexy modern floor lamp in elegant room with glossy white floor. Bom-chicka-wah-wah!

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Choose Best White Paint Colors! BM White Dove

2. White Paint Color Advice from More Experts.

I turned to Country Living to discover the white paint colors Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines tends to favor and use in her projects. Her go-to white? Sherwin Williams Alabaster, which she used on the walls in her own home as well as many of the homes she and Chip renovated on the show.

Shiplap walls in white farmhouse kitchen of #JoannaGaines

Joanna Gaines Fixer Upper farmhouse – wall paint: SW Alabaster…How to Choose the Best White Paint Color Every Time!

Joanna's five favorite Fixer Upper paint colors - #paint #bestwhitepaint #whitepaint

SW Alabaster: Joanna Gaines’ Favorite White

For a soothing grey paint color, Joanna likes Wedding Band from Kilz.

Gray walls in Fixer Upper bathroom by #JoannaGaines

Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines Loves this Gray for Spa-like baths: Kilz “Wedding Band”…How to Choose the Best White Paint Color Every Time!

Kilz Wedding Band paint color

Kilz Wedding Band…Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Pick Best White Paint Colors!

Is it any wonder, another white paint favorite of Joanna’s is known as “Shiplap?”

The wall color (not the wood shiplap) is Kilz “Shiplap” and one of Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines’ favorite wall paint colors

Kilz Shiplap paint

Kilz “Shiplap”…Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Choose Best White Paint Colors!

View of hall in country cottage with Benjamin Moore White walls and European inspired farmhouse style interiors by Hello Lovely Studio

My home: BM White. How to Choose the Right White Paint Color Every Time! Hello Lovely Studio

When I consulted Remodelista, I found a thorough and highly researched article on choosing the best white paint colors, and design experts there offer this advice:

1. Understand the different nuances of white (is it cool, warm, bluish, pinkish?). 2. Determine if objects in the room are cool (choose a cool white) or warm (choose a warm white). 3. Assess whether the room gets a lot of natural light (go with a pure white) or little light (go with a more pigmented white). 4.Choose a few whites and test large swatches on the walls. 5. If still stuck, turn to interior designers’ top picks.

Based on the number of emails I receive about white paint, I am guessing plenty of home decorators get stuck, so I turned to some of my design pals from Belgium to Buckhead and asked about their favorite white paint colors.

Interior Designer Leanne Ford Gives Us a Tour of Her Renovated Farmhouse

(via Leanne Ford) How to Choose the Best White Paint Color Every Time!

3. Favorite White Paint Colors Used by Designers.

Greet of Belgian Pearls

“It is hard to name a favorite white as using the right color of white is dependent upon the room that has to be painted. Is it a small or a large room? Is there a lot of light coming in or not? Another factor….fabrics to be used in the room for curtains and upholstery. But I often turn to Farrow & Ball Pointing White or White Tie.”Farrow and Ball "Pointing"

 

 

POINTING…Farrow & Ball. This fresh and uncomplicated white is named after the colour of lime pointing used in traditional brickwork. One of our Red Based Neutrals, Pointing has a warm undertone to it which creates the prettiest of spaces when used on walls and always softens the feel of a room alongside strong, traditional colours.

 

 

 

 

Panelling in Blue Gray by Farrow & Ball and wall in Pointing

Wall paint: Farrow & Ball: Pointing. How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

Farrow and Ball White Tie

WHITE TIE…Farrow & Ball. Our prettiest white is named after the old, pre-brightened, starched cotton used for white tie jackets. One of our Yellow Based Neutrals, White Tie brings a gentle warmth to any room and is deepened with a touch of black pigment. Combine with Matchstick, String and New White for a delicate scheme with reassuringly creamy undertones.

 

 

 

 

Maiden Home: Custom, handcrafted sofas for a fraction of the showroom price. #whitelivingroom #minimaldecor

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Best White Paint Colors!

Lauren DeLoach of Lauren Deloach Interiors:

Joanna's five favorite Fixer Upper paint colors - #paint #bestwhitepaint #whitepaint

 

 

 

ALABASTER…Sherwin Williams. Sherwin Williams named this the 2016 Color of the Year. Alabaster creates an atmosphere of ease and contentment for many spaces.

Wall color is Alabaster from Sherwin Williams. Beautiful white with a slight hint of warmth. Thompson Homes.

Wall paint: Sherwin Williams: Alabaster. How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

 

Megan Pflug of Megan Pflug Designs:

 “My favorite “white” wall color is Farrow and ball Ammonite. It is a fantastic changeable color. It looks more like a stone material than a flat wall color. Its a great alternative to a standard white.”
Farrow & Ball Ammonite
AMMONITE…Farrow & Ball. Ammonite is named after the treasured fossils often found on the Dorset coast. It has a fantastically understated quality, and sits effortlessly with our Easy Neutrals. Neither too warm nor too cool, its subtle grey tone creates a hushed and calming feel in homes both old and new. Try pairing with All White to accent its light grey feel.
Sustainable Kitchens - Bright Open Plan Family Kitchen in London. Oak shaker style cabinetry painted in Farrow & Ball Ammonite with built in spice racks on both sides of the Smeg range cooker. The worktop is Bianco Fantasia.

Cabinetry paint: Farrow & Ball Ammonite. How to Choose the Best White Paint Color!

Stunning stone island (La Dolce Vita quartzite) in #modernfarmhouse kitchen. Cabinet paint color is Benjamin Moore "onyx" and walls are "decorator's white" #openshelves

via CupofJo…Walls: BM Decorator’s White/Cabinets: BM Onyx. How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

White living room with #romanticdecor and French inspired style

Home Decor Ideas: Ultimate Guide to Best White Paint Colors! BM White Dove

 Trim Color for both bathrooms (including shelving, baseboards, doors and door trim) for both bathrooms Benjamin Moore White Dove - Trim

 

Is anyone surprised at all that WHITE DOVE still reigns!?!

Sherry Hart of Design Indulgence, Elizabeth of Pretty Pink Tulips and Mary Ann of Classic Casual Home —>WHITE DOVE…Benjamin Moore. Unerring style defines this classic, softly shaded white. Light and luminous, it is a favorite choice for moldings and trim.

 

 

 

 

5 Steps to a Successful Living Room Makeover

Home Decor Ideas: Choosing the Best White Paint Color Every Time!

Sheridan Recycled Glass Decorative Bottle

Parisian Glass Decorative Bottle Vase: FIND HERE

french bulldog hardwood floors benjamin moore simply white #simplywhite

BM: Simply White. How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Crisp, clean, but not too stark a white. No surprise undertones.
Amy of Maison Decor —-> SIMPLY WHITE…Benjamin Moore. Fresh as the first snowfall, this clean, crisp, multi-purpose white is  a perennial favorite for trim, ceilings, and walls.
A beautiful antique silver end table for your living room! Side table. End Table. #table #antiquesilver #homedecor

Antique Silver Side Table: FIND HERE

Knotty alder door in serene white bedroom by Hello Lovely Studio #whitewalls #BenjaminMoore

My home. Walls: Benjamin Moore “White” – How to Choose the Best White Paint Color

I hope this helps you choose the best white paint color for your interior, and I’d love to hear your pick for your favorite go-to white paint color!

Peace to you right where you are.

~michele

So many white paint colors! Let's find out what's the right white for you. Help for choosing the perfect white paint color for your walls from design experts on Hello Lovely Studio

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16 Comments

  1. February 15, 2018 / 4:59 am

    Hello – my name is Joan and I am a Hello Lovely Studio Pin-aholic. I have no plans to cure this affliction as this post sent me over the edge with white paint and room design inspiration as I create my photographic art for such spaces. Beautifully shared Michele – thank you.

    • February 15, 2018 / 9:34 am

      I am thankful for pin-aholics like you, making the world more beautiful, one white backdrop at a time. xox

  2. February 15, 2018 / 6:44 am

    Man….let’s hope this will solve all the problems of the world….well at least one of them:) I will be sharing this so everyone can start living in a “white world”….hee hee!

    • February 15, 2018 / 9:33 am

      If the world would just let us be in charge, Sherry…Thanks for playing along and being instrumental in the revolution of right white paints for all!!! xox

  3. February 15, 2018 / 12:18 pm

    This is such a great post — I just had my interiors painted and spent hours choosing just the right white — painting swatches and seeing how they looked throughout the day. Great ideas and recommendations here.

    • February 15, 2018 / 12:40 pm

      Thank you! You are a kindred soul then! Thrilled to have you here. 🙂

  4. Mary
    February 15, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    I read this perfectly timed, gorgeous post the first time at four thirty a.m. I was wide awake, too wired from all of the chocolate eaten during Valentine’s Day. I am getting ready to paint my entire downstairs, and have landed on BM Ivory White. Maybe. Oddly, the front of the house gets a brutal, western, afternoon sun, which can fade fabrics etc, whereas, the back of the house is in deep, eastern shade by afternoon. Any suggestions on the correct white to bridge the gap from front to back where the main rooms are positioned? Natural light is crucial in selecting and I need a high light value in the paint. This is a challenge which is why your post today was a perfect Valentine’s gift! Thank you, Michele.

    • February 15, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      You’re delightful, Mary! I feel your pain since it sounds like you want to choose just one color. Two exposures and one color. Yep. A couple of questions come to mind. Which exposure will take priority? The answer will be influenced by where you will spend the most time or what time of day you will spend in the spaces. I would also ask yourself what part of the color wheel you are drawn to–cooler or warmer? BM Ivory White could read beautifully balanced in the east and perhaps too yellow in the west. If you want to counter the yellowness of the Western exposure, perhaps you’ll want a white without warm undertones. But I get it. You don’t want the color to read too cool in the east. Nothing solves it like big ol’ swaths of the color on different walls before painting everything! Hope this helps. xox

  5. Dawn Michelle Windham
    February 18, 2018 / 12:44 pm

    Hey! Been looking at BM for our house interior. I searched for “White” and found “White OC151” and “White PM-2”. I have yet to find just “white”. Did your white have a number after it?

    • February 18, 2018 / 11:40 pm

      Hi Dawn! I am out of town but I do think the number may be OC-151. I’ll circle back here if that’s not right. 🙂

  6. Sue
    February 20, 2018 / 9:24 am

    Great article! Perfect timing for our construction! Is there a “rule of thumb” when you are planning white kitchen cabinets/island and white walls? Should they be the same white or contrasting?

    • February 20, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Hi Sue! I’m so glad this helped. I don’t care for rules in kitchen design…do you? Think first about the vibe you want to create in the kitchen with your white cabinets. Any color on the walls will work, but the combination will create a mood. To choose the correct white, as I said in this post, take into consideration the natural light in the room and what part of the color wheel you are drawn to – cool or warm. Try a handful of samples on the wall. I’m in Florida right now doing a kitchen makeover where the modern cabinets are a bone white and we want them to fade into the background so we’re keeping the walls in a similar hue and then bringing some caramel and grey interest to the backsplash. As for countertop choice, you’ll likely want it to be a different color than the floor. When we bought our AZ house, the floor matched the counters, and it was all wrong. I’ll try to create a post on this topic as soon as I can! 🙂

  7. February 28, 2018 / 9:50 pm

    Oh dear lord, thank you! I have fought with white for years. So interesting that white is different depending on where in the country you live… i mean i get that the amount of light in the room affects it, but didn’t get that location on earth did! This is the best article about white ever!

    xoxoxo’s
    Cindy

    • March 1, 2018 / 10:43 am

      I’m so glad this helped! We all fight with the right white, and it’s so gratifying when you win a battle. p.s. I am loving seeing your painting on a new wall in my house! Makes me so happy! 🙂

  8. Connie
    March 11, 2018 / 4:10 pm

    I too am currently in the market for the ‘perfect white’ for my LR. The tall vaulted ceiling room opens into the upper level of kitchen, dining and hallway space. (Kind of an unusual ’60’s design. 😉 ) Anyway…. we have a gorgeous west facing, super large picture window that allows beautiful afternoon light into the room. I’m thinking I’d like a bit warmer white but know if I go with too much yellow undertones, it’ll read yellow in the bright afternoon sunlight. (Not my desire).

    Our former home had wood tone trim and in order for it not to stand out too much, I usually used a yellow-undertoned white. Here, it took me a bit of time to get used to the different light (especially in the LR and master BR both west facing) compared to our former north -facing LR. A much cleaner, brighter white is necessary.

    I’m thinking my perfect color is going to be Valspar White (right out of the can) that we used on walls in the kitchen/dining area and hallway. It has a little of a gray-ish undertone to it making it stand out just slightly from Valspar’s Ultra White 7006-24 that we used on all the trim in the house. Sometime simple is best 😉

    I adore all white rooms! I have off white furniture in my French-inspired LR (several pieces have been painted to look aged–not distressed). Currently there is a pale gray on the walls that can, in bright sunlight, appear nearly white. But I long to have my all white room , and hence the desire to paint over the pale gray done by the former home owners. 🙂

    To the answer of “Can you actually live in an all white room, especially with kids or pets?” my answer is yes! We have 3 dogs. Slipcovers make clean up easy. And above all, my mantra is “With white, I see the dirt, I clean the dirt.” Sure maybe darker colors will hide dirt, but I’d rather know it needs cleaning than to fool myself into thinking because the dirt isn’t as visible, it’s clean. 😉

    White lovers unite and be happy! Yay! 🙂

    • March 11, 2018 / 5:14 pm

      My hands are in the air, and I’m shouting HALLELUJAH on this Sunday afternoon as I read your passion for white and your thoughtfulness as you consider color, nuance, light, and mood. Thank you so much for adding to the beauty with your discussion and analysis here — so grateful you are with us, Connie, making a persuasive argument for living with white and loving it! xox

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