I know I have the itch to tackle some projects around the house at the moment, and maybe you do too. Any painting projects on the horizon?
Is It Time to Paint a Room or Three?
As home renovation DIYers, my husband and I have worked on more than a dozen houses, which adds up to hundreds of walls requiring interior painting! For most of our projects, it made financial sense to do the interior painting ourselves and for a few, it was wise to leave the job to professionals.
It’s true that paint will transform a space dramatically, and our Chicagoland fixer upper had been freshly painted top to bottom in an unfortunate shade of “pale margarine yellow.” What a shame all that effort and expense was spent just in time to be erased entirely! The paint color chosen not only dated the place, it cast a yellow tint on everything we brought moved into the home. So we only left one room alone (the media/family room in the lower level) and painted over every other wall and ceiling surface.
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How about you? Have rooms to paint? Wondering whether to paint walls yourselves or to hire a pro?
You’ll find a few straightforward considerations to mull over as well as images of spaces we painted.
A Few Considerations
Time is Money. Will you have enough time to do it yourself? Hiring a professional may save you time, labor, and headache.
Let’s Avoid the ER…Oui? Painting walls is a physical workout…do you have physical limitations, vertigo, shaky hands, or issues impacting your safety and health? Allowing someone else to climb the ladder is money well spent, and your joints will thank you.
Scaffolding Woes. If you have high ceilings or a whole house of rooms which require paint, it’s likely a job to leave to a team of professionals with the proper equipment and expertise. When we built our prior French Country home, we left all of the interior painting to a team of professionals who used high tech sprayers and knocked out the job in no time.
Money Talks. Have a budget to pay for the the work to be done by professionals? Lucky you! Go pro, mama.
Great White Paint Colors
Oh the elusive Just Right White Paint Colors! Even though we know choosing the right white paint color for your interior is dependent on all sorts of factors such as natural light and various interior design elements, it seems that the best white paint color remains a hot topic.
And I am all too happy to dive into the topic.
With thousands of white paint color possibilities, it’s important to note the white a stylish blogger used for her modern farmhouse kitchen may look all wrong in your home. Your room’s: amount of natural light, decor plan, finishes, and even geographical location all factor into the equation. So do personal preferences.
White Paint Color on Walls (above): FARROW & BALL Strong White 2001.
Trim Color (above bathroom)
My opinions here pertaining to the quest for the just right white paint relate to: (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.
Just Right White Paint Colors
1. Best White Paint Color Smarts – From Me.
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.
My Favorite White
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!
Mixed Messages About Choosing
BEWARE. There are color experts who recommend that we NEVER look to photos online for guidance choosing a paint color and others who insist this is the only way! Why the disparate views?
Here’s my two cents: Reviewing photos online (where the name of the white paint color used is supplied) seems a great place to start and can be more helpful than viewing a small 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 used for walls in a new bathroom we added at the fixer upper):
Tried & True Pretty 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 to paint my family piano and various furniture.
2. White Paint Color Advice from Pros.
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.
For a soothing grey paint color, Joanna likes Wedding Band from Kilz.
Is it any wonder, another white paint favorite of Joanna’s is known as “Shiplap?”
Everybody’s Hungry For the Perfect White!
Since I am asked about white paint and white decor more than anything else, I have concluded a ton of home decorators get stuck. I turned to a panel of some of my favorite design friends to offer their favorite white paint color picks.
3. Just Right White Paint Colors: Picks from Experts.
Greet of Belgian Pearls (See her own Belgian home RIGHT HERE)
“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.”
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.
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.
Lauren DeLoach of Lauren Deloach Interiors:
ALABASTER…Sherwin Williams. Sherwin Williams named this the 2016 Color of the Year. Alabaster creates an atmosphere of ease and contentment for many spaces.
Megan Pflug of Megan Pflug Designs:
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.
My go to whites: In our prior home, we had most of our walls painted Benjamin Moore White Sand, and here at the fixer upper, the bright white that worked best was Benjamin Moore White (yep, that’s right, W H I T E…the folks at the paint counter are destined to make you repeat the underwhelming mono-syllabic name of this color!).
If DIY painting is new for you, here are 6 SMART TIPS to keep the stress level low and the WOW factor high.
- Remove furniture, lamps, and objects from the room or move them away from walls. Remove outlet and light switch plates to save time and effort taping off those areas.
- Cover the floor with a dropcloth.
- Prep work is important when you want to execute it like the pros. Repair any wall damage, cracks, and holes with joint compound or spackle. Allow to dry completely, then sand and smooth. Remove any dust by wiping down and vacuuming wall surfaces.
- You will most likely need to mask off with painter’s tape those areas you don’t want painted (trim, light fixtures, etc).
- To cut in, use an angled 2 1/2″ or 3″ quality paintbrush, using light pressure and smooth strokes. Move around the room, along the edges, as fast as you feel comfortable, keeping a wet edge. First cut out the wall – ceiling, then corners, then around outlets, then windows, then vents, and then the wall – floor. When the room is cut in entirely, you’re ready to roll.
- For rolling, start at the top of the wall and work your way down. Load your roller with paint and roll it on the wall in a W pattern. Then, fill in the W area with paint. Work quickly and keep a wet edge moving along the wall. If you notice you missed a spot, let it dry, keep moving, and go back later for touch-ups.
If you are feeling extra geeky and game for a few BONUS painting hacks, check out these brilliant ones:
This is Tray Smart. (See what I did there?) Line your paint tray with a disposable insert, aluminum foil, or a plastic bag for easier clean-up and less paint down the sink drain.
Glove Love. Consider wearing disposable gloves to avoid messy hands and to store paint brushes that you don’t want to dry out. And don’t forget a mask…your lungs will thank you.
Not Just for Laundry. For easier paint brush cleanup, add fabric softener to the water in which you soak brushes to prevent dryness and hardening of the bristles.
Your turn: HAVE A PAINT TIP OR WOE TO SHARE?
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Peace to you right where you are.
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As a seasoned painter I’d like to add two more tips/hints 😉
7. NEVER expect your paint to cover in one coat even if it says “One Coat Coverage” on the can. Any professional painter will tell you the same thing. The reason behind this is one coat will not give the depth of color as will two coats (or more if using a dark color.) There is one ‘exception’ to this: If you are using the same color that is currently on the wall you will likely be able to use one coat successfully. Do keep in mind, however, that if it’s been several years since you painted that color, time and sun-bleaching may have altered the original color.
8. If you don’t have any fabric softener you can use white vinegar and water to soak your brushes for easier cleanup.
It is lovely that you listed so many white paint options. White is such a difficult one to get right and every blog post about white is a blessing. Thanks so much.
Those are golden – please write for this blog!!! Absolutely, you cannot cover in one coat – great pro tip. I didn’t know about the vinegar and am going to do that. Thanks so much for your expertise, friend. xox
Hope that you are feeling well, Michele. I love your posts all about paint. Have not painted the walls here yet, because every other day we decide to move, but then, decide to stay. Talk about fickle! I am kind of into Alabaster right now, too. And, I love your gorgeous floors. Such a lovely color…serene. So…here in the South, summer ended just last week. It is now only seven weeks until Christmas. I enjoy Autumn so much but get so little of it. This is why I might need to move. North-ish. Is there a humble castle for me in some land just North-ish of way too hot? I would be happy to find it, paint it, (probably Alabaster or Pointing) and then cherish it always. Peace to you.
We are twins then! Because I am always on the fence about the next project since I’m always thinking about moving on gypsy style. I moved so much as a kid, and that spirit of moving on just never leaves I guess! I can understand your love of autumn. I wouldn’t mind moving south so let’s meet in the middle! Alternatively, if you want to buy our place in Northern Illinois (that’s wayyyy north!), let’s talk! ha! Peace to you, friend.
Thanks for the good conetnt! I like the sweet stripes are quite addictive to it ! I would love some stripes be painted for my house! I just search and see some gorgeous contemporary designs, and now I first wanted to hunt down some perfect neutral paint colors for my walls! I did use painters tape and get my first painting done for the kitchen last week, i will soon try with other rooms ! Barry!
Thanks for reading. 🙂 Best to you with those sweet stripes.
thanks, as well. Michelle . best of luck!
Our cabinets were a dark ivory, distressed and with brown glazing. Whenever I placed a more yellow white next to the cabinets like what Painters Hornsby guys in our place said, all the texture and glazing disappeared in the cabinets. What can you advice
Makes sense – If the goal is to draw attention to the cabinets, color on the walls would do that rather than subtle tones. If you’re after a quiet serene look, a cool light grey or greyed white may make more sense if your objective is to bring attention to the distress and glaze and create contrast.