With the popularity of white on walls and trim these days, I wanted to weigh in on my favourite white paint colours and where to use them. Let me take a moment to note, however, that I am simply selecting paint colours and not commenting on paint performance. Select the brand of paint you prefer and then compare whites to the ones listed below to see how similar they are and to get a feel for how they will look on your walls at home.
For overall use, a good warm white is Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White, which has a touch of yellow and black in it. It’s a bright option for ceilings, rather than the typical pre-mixed ceiling white you buy from the paint store that is generally a dull grey cast. With Cloud White your ceiling will appear brighter and this may contribute to the overall brightness of your room in terms of light reflectance.
For an antique white, I definitely recommend Benjamin Moore’s White Down as it is warm and mellow without looking yellow. It feels very natural but still appears “white”. This is a great colour for kitchen cabinets if you do not have white appliances and you wish for your space to feel a little more relaxed or “aged”overall. It really is the perfect antique white without looking old!
An alternative antique white I also like is Farrow & Ball’s Pointing as it is quite rich in feel when comparing it to brighter whites. Again, it won’t turn yellow or pinkish when applied to cabinetry, trim or walls.
My new favourite whites are Benjamin Moore’s Simply White and Oxford White. Simply White is clean and bright but not tinted to appear gray or blue when rolled on a large area. It is sharp but still on the warm side so it’s great with hardwood flooring or wood furniture. It is more modern than Cloud White as it has even less yellow in it.
Oxford White is a classic white that again, is more modern than either White Down or Cloud White as it is crisp and moves towards gray. For a clean but brighter white than Oxford, look at Para Paint’s Crysler Hall White. Not yellow and not gray but fresh and neutral.
Decorator’s White from Benjamin Moore is an oldie but a goodie! With its classic gray undertone, it has been out of favour over the last ten years but it is perfect if you wish to decorate with gray, charcoal or black. It is a returning white that is popular again as we usher in cleaner, more modern styles.
Other fresh white paint colours to consider without a blue undertone are Dulux’s Atmosphere or Para’s Butterfly Jasmine. Both are bright whites with little undertone to them at all which means they will work well with any of the modern pallets we see today. These are also great choices if you simply want a new white to freshen up dull looking trim work.
Choosing Your White
What is the best way to look at white? Review your choice against all the other elements in your space to ensure it actually looks “white”. And remember, white is the most difficult colour to select. It changes tremendously depending on the type of artificial lighting in the space and your room’s geographic exposure. (North light is cooler than a Western exposure for instance).
You may want to paint a large bristol board in the white of your choice prior to applying it to the wall to make sure it has the overall tone you are looking for. It’s easier “to see” white when it’s applied to a larger area as it gives a sense of its underlying tone.
One other note, the sheen of paint you select will alter the colour as well. The higher the sheen of paint, the darker the colour will appear. This means your colour may look different than the paint chip, which is relatively flat in finish.
Who knew white would be so hard!? Hopefully these tips will help you get the right white when it’s time to select one for your own home.
About the author: Jane Lockhart is founder and principal designer of Jane Lockhart Interior Design