White paint colors are beautiful, and the latest go-to trend. We often get asked about our favorite whites, so we put together a post on these colors (and how to use them) with their Sherwin Williams and Behr matches.
White Paint is the new Gray
My favorite design bloggers, Studio McGee and Emily Henderson have embraced (and led) the trend for white paint colors. Earlier this year, I saw paint colors on Zillow listings in my Boulder, CO area go from grays to whites in a dramatic shift. White paint choices may seem easy, but they can go really wrong fast.
The question is, which white to use. If you use the wrong white, paint color could either look like primer, or your walls could look dirty.
As a homeowner, whites can look very bright after you paint your walls. To avoid what I call “White Freak-out” after you paint your walls, recognize that the room will make much more sense after you move your art and furniture back into the room.
How to Match Paint Colors to Different Brands
Have you ever taken a paint color to the paint store to try to match it? No matter how good your paint store employee is, it is very difficult to get a perfect match, even if they have a spectrophotometer on-site. Usually it’s a manual process.
If you see a Benjamin Moore color that you love, but are a Sherwin Williams fan, pick a similar color with matching undertones from your Sherwin Williams instead of trying to match.
Always test your paint colors. Learn to Test Paint Colors Like a Pro in this post.
Design Tips for White Paint
- The secret to white paint is counter-intuitive. You should always use white in a sunny space. If you use a bright white in a poorly lit space, the shadows make the room look gray and dirty.
- For a monochromatic white paint palette, use paint sheen to add texture and depth. For example, if you choose to paint with Chantilly Lace, paint the baseboards satin, walls eggshell and ceiling flat. It will look as if you painted with three different gorgeous whites.
- Don’t have your paint mixer try to match a color. Instead, test the right color from the manufacturer.
- Use warm woods and materials in a white space to keep it from looking cold.
- Hardwood and terra cotta floors go with any color white. Treat them like jeans; they go with everything.
The Best Benjamin Moore White Paint Colors
White Heron (BM OC-57)
White Heron is a cool crisp white with slight blue undertones and looks amazing with marble and cool gray finishes. Make sure you use this white in bright spaces to prevent dingy gray corners. This crisp color is a perfect backdrop for colorful art. We love this living room with SW Extra White (BM White Heron match), and painted the trim, walls and ceiling in the same color. The trim was a satin texture and the walls and ceiling were a Matte. It looked gorgeous with the warm wood beams and terra cotta floors.
Tips and Tricks:
- Use with: Carrara marble counters, crisp grays, blacks and clean colors. The best granite is honed absolute black.
- Don’t use with: Dark earthy granite countertops. Could end up looking like primer. Be careful about using this color with quartz countertops. Because of the quartz manufacturing process, most of their whites are off-white or creamy. White Heron will not go well with an off-white or creamy quartz.
- Best ceiling color (flat): White Heron or BM White Diamond (2121-60)
- Best trim color (satin or semi-gloss): White Heron
- Best Paint Matches: Sherwin Williams Extra White (SW 7006) OR Behr Arcade White (GR-W8)
Chantilly Lace (BM OC-65)
Chantilly Lace is the cleanest white color in the universe because It has no warm or cool undertones. This clean white is great for walls, but also makes the perfect trim or ceiling color. You need lots of light to make this color work. We use this color as a baseline comparison for all other whites.
In the kitchen below we used Chantilly Lace for the ceilings, and the cabinet colors were a perfect match for Chantilly Lace. This color matches beautifully with the Carrara marble counters.
Tips and Tricks:
- Use with: Carrara marble counters, crisp grays, blacks and clean colors. The best granite is honed absolute black. Works well with off-white quartz colors.
- Don’t use with: Dark earthy colors or granite countertops. Could end up looking like primer. Be careful about using this color with quartz countertops. Because of the quartz manufacturing process, most of their whites are off-white or creamy. Does not look its best with creamy quartz. Don’t use with creamy trim colors such as Swiss Coffee.
- Best ceiling color (flat): Chantilly Lace or White Heron
- Best trim color (satin or semi-gloss): Chantilly Lace or White Heron (with matching White Heron trim)
- Best Paint Matches: SW 7757 High Reflective White OR Behr 1850 Ultra Pure White
Simply White (BM OC-117)
Simply White is a versatile and iconic soft white paint color with just a little bit of warmth, and looks great just about anywhere. Use it in a monochromatic paint palette or consider it for cabinets or trim. Simply White looks lovely in the photo below from Young House Love.
- Use with: Clean or earthy colors, blacks or browns, Calacatta marble.
- Don’t use with: Cool whites or finishes such as Carrara marble counters. Stay away from cream colors for ceilings or trim.
- Best ceiling color (flat): Simply White or Chantilly Lace
- Best trim color (Satin or Semi-Gloss): Simply White (either ceiling color) or Chantilly Lace (with same ceiling color)
- Best Paint Matches: SW 7005 Pure White OR Behr PPU18-07 Falling Snow
Swiss Coffee (BM OC-45)
Swiss Coffee is a gorgeous creamy paint color that is best used to update a house that has dark earthy hard finishes from the Tuscan décor era. Use it with earthy colors, browns and tans. This is a great cabinet color with any earthy granite countertop. If you have a dark room or a north facing room with cool light this is a great option. For an exterior, it will read bright white in the sunshine.
- Use with: Earthy Tuscan colors, muted colors, browns, creamy quartz or Calacatta marble. Good white for dark rooms or north facing exposures.
- Don’t use with: Clean whites, Cool whites or finishes such as Carrara marble counters.
- Best ceiling color (flat): Simply White
- Best trim color (satin or semi-gloss): Simply White or Swiss Coffee
- Best Paint Matches: SW 6385 Dover White OR Behr OR-W13 Shoelace
Classic Gray (BM OC-23)
Even though this color has “Gray” in its name, it is an incredible grayed out cream that looks different as the light changes throughout the day. This color reads white in the sunshine, and has enough pigment so that it can be used in darker rooms without looking dingy when the sun goes down. It is as flexible as Simply White (but in different ways). Classic Gray looks best as a wall color. Don’t use it as a ceiling color or with interior trim. I have seen it used beautifully for kitchen cabinets, and you can also use it as a trim for an exterior color.
- Use with: Clean whites, off whites, crisp grays and vibrant colors. It can look good with Carrara or Calacatta marbles. Good white for dark rooms or north facing exposures.
- Don’t use with: Creamy whites. Don’t use as a trim or ceiling color.
- Best ceiling color (flat): Simply White or Chantilly Lace
- Best trim color (satin or semi-gloss): Simply White (either ceiling color) or Chantilly Lace (with same ceiling color)
- Best Paint Matches: SW 7014 Eider White OR Behr N220-U-1U Spun Wool
White is gorgeous in any interior, but if you don’t pick the right white you could end up with primer-white or dingy gray walls.
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