There are so many options in undertones, finishes, and tones, and each one has a different impact.
We get asked, “What is the best white paint color?” more than any other question, so we keep a running list of our favorites.
After years of swatching, we’ve narrowed it down to six basics we think could work well in every home.
If you’re looking for the best white paint for your space, scroll through this post for photo examples, undertone details, and our most common white paint FAQs answered!
Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore at 75% strength. From The McGee Home
This paint color is a soft neutral, off-white. We love the warmness it offers without being too creamy. We recently used it in one of our projects and it was the perfect calming white for the bedrooms!
From our Pine Brook Home
From our Beckham Project
Benjamin Moores’ Chantilly Lace, was named after the crisp, clean white lace you may have inherited from your grandmother. Some say if you hold this color up to any other shade of white, you can identify the undertones of that shade. In other words, this shade of white is pretty pure. If you’re looking for a bright white with minimal undertones, this could be the one for you!
From our Northridge Remodel
Warm, welcoming, and smooth are some words often used to describe Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. It’s a great option for more traditional spaces and plays well with other creamy tones and golden hues.
From our Cove Remodel
We used McGee Home at 75% strength, because it was showing just a little too yellow when they tested it. It worked perfectly for the home!
We’ve used Simply White by Benjamin Moore on nearly everything. Cabinetry, trim, walls, and ceilings. It’s one of those colors that looks warm when paired with warm tones and cool when paired with cool tones. It was named color of the year in 2015, but it still has our hearts years later. We’d call it a classic.
From our Open & Airy Netflix Kitchen Remodel
Known for reflecting light beautifully, White Dove by Benjamin Moore is a favorite for its luminescent finish and creamy grey undertones. While not a true white, it still has a soft, calming effect without looking yellow. We love using this shade in spaces with lots of natural light.
From our SM Ranch House
From our Home On The Ranch
Sherwin Williams’ White Flour could be defined as a very light shade of brown when looking at the color wheel. However, it reflects a clean, creamy white in naturally lit spaces that we can’t get enough of. We love using this shade for open-concept living spaces to create a minimal yet warm look.
From our Rye New York Project
Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. From The McGee Home: Ivy’s Room
White Dove by Benjamin Moore. From The McGee Home
If you tend to like a more clean/modern aesthetic, start with the crisp/soft whites. If you lean a bit more traditional, try the soft/warm whites.
The best advice we can give is to try it out! This is what we do for every single project. We paint large swatches on card stock and hold them up to different walls in different lights. Then we leave them up for a while to test different times of the day.
We would recommend staying with a crisp or soft white to give a nice, clean contrast. Stay away from the warm whites against the warm trim – it will look “muddy” and have a dated appearance.
Walls – Flat or eggshell. The eggshell sheen is generally our go-to for families since it is easier to wipe clean, but doesn’t look shiny.
Ceiling – Flat
Baseboard – Satin or semi-gloss depending on how traditional or formal the client’s style is. I love a subtle sheen difference between the baseboard and walls.
Cabinets – We typically always use a satin finish.
North facing light is gray, so it will magnify cool tones. I would try a warm white.
Generally, when we do the white cabinets/white walls look, we use the same color on the walls and cabinets. However, if you’d like a slight contrast, I would go with a crisper white on the cabinets and a warmer white on the walls. The other way around usually makes the cabinets appear yellow.
When doesn’t receive much light, it will appear gray-ish regardless of the white used. However, if you’re dying to use white in the space, I would go with something from the warm whites category.
I have no idea until I try something! I would paint several swatches (from each category) and leave them on the wall and peek in at different times a day for about a week. Testing at only one time a day is not enough!
What do you mean when you say 75% strength? Thank you!
Hi Deborah! It’s just slightly less saturated than it is at the full percentage. You can ask your local paint store to adjust the strength!
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Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a completely different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!
thank you for sharing this blog! really helpful and I enjoyed reading it.
Thank you for narrowing down an extensive subject such as is the family of white paint colors. So many shades and options in this color, makes it virtually impossible and very overwhelming to choose “the right one”. Thank you for4 making this job a bit less complicated. (^_^)
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