Contrary to popular belief, there are as many shades of white as there are blue, red, and any other hue on the color wheel. Therefore, this can make finding the perfect white paint colors tricky. Overall, there are several factors to consider including undertones, brightness, and, of course, the room that’s about to undergo a makeover. Lucky for you, we’ve tapped several industry experts for foolproof advice. Despite the overwhelming possibilities, white is hands down a solid paint color because it goes with everything and can easily set the mood of a space. Additionally, white-painted rooms tend to feel brighter and bigger (two much-welcomed benefits in design).
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
Jo Saltz's family kitchen, Saltz wanted a white that felt bright and clean. "Paint is so hard to recommend because you really need to see it in the space," explains her designer, Jean Stoffer, who recommended a few blue-tinged whites to counteract the warm, glowy light from a south-facing window. After living with swatches of four colors on the wall for a spell, Saltz picked Chantilly Lace from Benjamin Moore.
Benjamin Moore Super White
"Benjamin Moore Super White creates a clean canvas that's perfect for walls where you plan to hang a lot of art," says Baltimore designer Laura Hodges, who used it in this loft. With southern exposures, daylight will add warmth, so use a cooler white.
Benjamin Moore Paper White
While designers warn that certain cool-toned whites can be antiseptic, in the proper setting, they have a crisp elegance. Look for a touch of gray to keep things from getting too chilly, advises designer Kelly Giesen, who painted her Manhattan apartment in Benjamin Moore's Paper White. “It’s incredibly soothing,” she raves.
Benjamin Moore Frostine
You should also keep in mind that what's outside a room can matter as much as what’s in it, says Gibbons: “White paint will always reflect the environment around it, so if you have big picture windows overlooking lots of trees, expect some of that greenery to come back into the room.” This icy white with a blue-green undertone was Susan Noble Jones’s key to reinvigorating a sun-filled New Orleans house.
Benjamin Moore Pale Oak
“This space was meant to be cozy,” says designer Kristin Fine of her Connecticut home office. After assessing how natural light moves through the space, she painted the walls in Benjamin Moore's Pale Oak for an inviting look. Additional light sources ensure the room is a welcoming environment from day to night.
Benjamin Moore Cloud Cover
“White is super tricky,” admits designer Andrew Howard. “If you have wood paneling and lots of color and patterned fabric, white walls can look fantastic. But white-painted rooms with drywall that don’t get a ton of natural light can take on an insane asylum feel if you aren’t careful. Moral of the story: I love white, but only in rooms that get a ton of light!” His favorite hue? Benjamin Moore Cloud Cover. “It is not too white and doesn’t turn ivory or yellow like some whites tend to.”
Benjamin Moore Decorator's White
This neutral white is designer Timothy Brown’s go-to when the decor skews modern, like in this Hamptons project: “It’s crisp, but it has depth." A neutral white is also perfect for showcasing art. "There’s a reason why galleries use pure white—any undertone will make the wall color noticeable," says Gibbons.
Benjamin Moore Simply White
Since whites often appear yellower with a lacquer finish, says Katie Lydon, steer clear of creamy tones if you’re going the high-gloss route. A true neutral white like this one is a safer bet. "It looks cool on the chip, but actually has a nice glow to it," says Lydon.
Sherwin-Williams Pure White
"Searching for a true white paint color is not an easy task," says Studio Ten 25 owner and designer Abbe Fenimore. "What may look like a bright white on a swatch can end up looking too warm with yellow undertones or too icy with blue undertones." For a sharp, clean white, she uses Pure White by Sherwin-Williams. "It works equally well as an oil-based paint on cabinets and as a latex for walls," she notes.
Farrow & Ball All White
While Farrow & Ball considers All White a neutral, artist Kerri Rosenthal says it has a real warmth to it. “I don’t like too much yellow and I don’t like stark, cold white either,” Rosenthal says. “When the sun hits it, you want it to warm up. I find that with Farrow & Ball paints especially, so I tend to use those.” She used All White throughout most of her Connecticut home.
Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee
This creamy white was the ideal pick for a bright and airy Hawaiian vacation retreat designed by Catherine Kwong. "The lighting on the Big Island is really bright, so we didn’t want a pure white," she explains. After months testing colors, she landed on Swiss Coffee. "It has little softness to it," she says.