February 12, 2020

My (Updated) White Paint Guide

I get more questions about white paint color in my images than anything else.  Paint is always something people struggle with, especially when it concerns cabinetry and millwork, because it’s such an important decision and one that can’t be “fixed” super easily.  This guide is in my new book (along with best Neutrals and Kids Room palettes, too!) but it’s hard to see in print so I thought I’d republish here along with some tips.

When picking a white paint for cabinetry and trim, consider the lighting in your unique space and always, always test on multiple walls. Whites look VASTLY different in various types and directions of lighting so the way it looks in a store is NOT what it will look like in your home.  Always paint a sample of the cabinet doors in the exact color and sheen you plan on using (for kitchen cabinets we typically use a satin sheen). Tiny chips will not give you the right information about how it will look. And if you plan on using white subway tile paired with your cabinets, you need to coordinate the two. Keep in mind that no two white subway tiles are exactly the same (the shades vary), so you’ll have to pick one that matches your chosen cabinet finish, or pick a cabinet color to coordinate with your chosen tile.

Some examples:

The cabinets and trim in this kitchen are Ben Moore Chantilly Lace- this is a VERY bright, clean white.

My family room paneling is Ben Moore White Dove, which has a slightly richer undertone.  We use this a lot in more traditional homes.

My master suite has Sherwin Williams Extra White on the trim and millwork- I wanted a really bright, crisp white up here against the walls, which are Sherwin Williams Incredible White.

This beach house was done top to bottom in Ben Moore Decorators White, another very crisp, bright white.

My current favorite white for cabinetry and trim is Ben Moore Simply White- it’s not TOO bright, but not too creamy. This is my go-to.

We painted our office Sherwin Williams Greek Villa, which is a slightly creamy white that I really love, especially on brick.

White on white rooms can be great, either with two tones and finishes of white or the same color in two different finishes on walls and trim.  In this room the walls are Ben Moore Swiss Coffee, a great ivory color that doesn’t read yellow, and the trim is Ben Moore White Dove in a semi-gloss finish. The subtle change in tone is a rich look.

In this room the whole room is the same color, Ben Moore White Dove, but the walls are eggshell and the trim is semi-gloss. Here, the change is paint finish is what creates contrast instead of changing the tone.

Another kitchen in Ben Moore Simply White.

Please comment with any great white colors you’ve used and loved below- it’s always nice to hear from others what they have found to be beautiful!

Images above by Michael J. Lee and Sarah Winchester.

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