Finding the right white paint

September 21, 2016


I am hoping this report on finding the right white paint for your walls saves some of you grief and tears. Short story: A few months ago I made an impulse decision to select a white paint at 9pm at night, and proceed to buy 5 gallons for the painter to use the following morning. I did this against my own better judgement, but took my risks because I was too lazy and in a hurry to test colors on our walls. Well as you can imagine it didn’t end well. We left the house to the painters for the day and when I got home, I found my walls to be practically baby blue versus the creamy white I was certain they would be. Lesson learned. Shotgun decisions no more!

Here are a few tips for testing paint colors, and finding the right shades of white…



Warm, cool, or bright? – Nail down if you want a cool or warm white tone. There are bright, warm, and cool whites so the first step would be deciding which way you want your room to feel. The cooler whites have a blue or grey base and the warmer whites have more of a red or yellow based hue. The bright whites are as pure a white as you can get. Deciding on a warm or cool white with narrow down the options significantly!

Project Color App – I found out that Home Depot now has an app called Project Color that allows you to visually try out different colors in your space. Wish I had known about it before my blue paint woes.

Test on at least two walls. – Paint the sample on at least two walls in your room. It’s worth it to pay the 5 bucks to buy a pint paint sample in a few different shades to try around your room. It is incredible how lighting can shift in different rooms, and how different elements in your rooms can change the perceived appearance of the hue. For instance, I used Dove by Behr in my dining room and it looked drastically lighter than in my living room. This was due to the direct light it received in the dining room.

Paint a larger portion. – Don’t skimp on the sample sections on your walls. I painted a large portion around my fireplace to see how it looked in shadowed light as well as on the back wall that received the most light. Double up on the coats to make sure you get the color in it’s true shade.

Determine your main elements. – Hold up different textiles and color elements that your room will have incorporated to see how the tones work together. Hold up a similar color that your couches are to see if they compliment. Or hold up your pillows and throws to make sure you got your cool or warm tones working together cohesively!

I won’t deny the Anne Shirley side of me is swooned often by the name of the paint color. However, when it comes down to it, you have to go with the color that works best considering all of the above. If only it were as simple as picking out your favorite paint by name!


best white paint




best white paints



Here were a few favorite whites I have tried out:

Pure White by Sherwin Williams (What we painted our bedroom!)
High Reflective White by Sherwin Williams
Decorators White by Benjamin Moore
Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore
Extra White by Sherwin Williams
All White by Farrow and Ball

Paper White by Benjamin Moore
Polo Malet White by Ralph Lauren
Ultra White by Valspar
Falling Snow by Behr Collection

Polar Bear by Behr Collection
Simply White by Benjamin Moore
White Dove by Benjamin Moore
White Modern by Behr Collection (What we finalllyyyyy chose for the living room!)

Side note: I always choose an eggshell finish for the ease of cleaning and appearance of small handprints on the walls;) However, the samples come in a satin finish so keep that in mind when testing! I’d recommend a semi-gloss for trim.

Alright let’s hear it! Your tried and true white hue??




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  • We’re getting ready (as in hopefully by January) to gut and redo our entire kitchen/living room/dinning room situation, and hopefully have all three rooms painted the same color, and I think I want gray walls, but I want them to be basically white with the teeeeeeeeeniest shift of gray… do any of your cool tone options fit that bill? We tried accomplishing this in my son’s room and we wound up with the baby blue/gray wall in there…so I was kind of dying when I read about your blue walls haha.


    • Hi Paige, hope you don’t mind me chiming in. I love love love Sherwin Williams Spatial White SW6259. it is white with a kiss of gray and goes with anything. Looks beautiful in day and night but as Honor of Design suggests, test on wall and live with it for awhile. 🙂

      • Hi Paige! The other color we almost went with that has a hint of grey is Falling Snow by Behr Collection. It is a beautiful white with a little cool grey undertone. Mary Beth’s suggestion sounds awesome too! I would get a few samples and test them out!

  • Rebecca Liu

    Love this post!! I have my family room, kitchen and living room left to paint in our house and all three rooms are going to be white! I had my choices narrowed down and then someone closed up my paint samples before I could mark them!!!!

  • Our trim was white when we moved into our home, I put a fresh coat on everything because for some reason it was painted in a matte finish. I stuck with whatever they had for ease of not having to doors and windows and door jams. However we chose simply white for our built ins, mantle, and kitchen cabinets. I love that it’s a warm white but it still looks crisp..not too yellow or creamy! I now wish I would have just painted everything this from the beginning. Who knows–I still might someday. Hubby will love me 😉

  • pinned this! im sure it’ll come in handy when we buy our next house and i’ll want to paint everything. thanks anna! xo jillian

  • Where was this post when we were painting our house 2 years ago!? 😉 I picked out our white on a whim and just like you, gave it to the painters and had them paint our entire house. I’d say it’s more of a bright white mixed with cool tones. Definitely realized I love a warmer white, but the thought of repainting the majority of our house is daunting! Definitely testing first next time!!

    thanks for putting this together – super helpful!!

  • White paint is so hard to choose! We just had to repaint a small section of wall and discovered that the slightly-off white colour the previous owner used last year to paint the whole house has discoloured in the tin, so there’s a huge square patch that doesn’t match on our living room wall. Time to hit up the hardware shop to choose something that matches – amazing how different whites shades can be!

  • Thank you for sharing this one

  • Years ago the lady at my (Benjamin Moore) paint store looked at me and said: “Two words: White Dove. Goes with everything.”

    Done! I’ve been happily using it ever since.

  • […] Room We finally decided on just the right white for the room, (See this post on white paints.) and it really brightened up the space. We also recently did a fireplace makeover, so it was […]

  • […] P.S. A post on finding the right white paint. […]

  • What color is your trim in your bedroom. We are contemplating painting our bedroom Pure White by Sherwin Williams also. But I am stumped on what color the trim should be. Same color different finish? Different color?

    • Laurel, You could do the same color with a different finish! We usually do a matte or eggshell on the walls, and a semi gloss for trim since it is easier to keep clean. 🙂

  • […] We started this room with the fireplace makeover, which Emily Harris finished with a stain to give it an aged stone look. We also painted the walls a clean white to get a fresh start. (More on how to choose the right white paint for your room here.)  […]


    is bm white dove supposed to be under both cool and warm suggestions? thank you. beautiful blog.

  • […] browse the Home DIY section of our blog for simple how-tos like how to change a doorknob, choosing the right white paint, and how to build a bookshelf/picture […]

  • Hanna Burmeister

    Hi there! I am driving myself crazy researching whites. I will be painting a navy accent wall, with white trim & a white fireplace. What color trim did you pair with your White Moderne walls?

  • Jill Kenney

    When painting a living room white that has a white leather sofa and gray fireplace tiles what would you choose?
    Polar Bear, White Dove or Alabaster?

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