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Simply White Paint Color Review

Benjamin Moore Simply White is a magical crisp off-white and was Benjamin Moore’s 2016 color of the year. We use this color all the time and it is beautiful.

According to the rules of whites, you should never use such a light paint color in a dimly lit room, but somehow it shines like a beacon.  When we first tried it in a house with low light (at the request of the homeowner), we didn’t believe it, but it worked.

Kitchen with BM Simply White Walls

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls

We love to show you results of our real-life work.  In the last year we experimented with Simply White and pushed it to its limits.  We tried Simply White in several projects (including my house). It rarely “shadows out” in the corners as we would expect with such a light and crisp color.  Now we are ready to show you our results, and they are gorgeous.

The photos in this article are NOT re-touched for lightness or color, which is a common practice in most online blogs.  We do re-touch some of our photos, but we wanted to truly show how this color behaves in real life.

Please note:  All color reviews feature our color consulting projects, and many of our photos come from our satisfied clients!

Tuxedo Kitchen with white and gray cabinets and Simply White walls

Benjamin Moore Simply White (OC-117)

When Should I use Simply White?

Use Simply White when you want to update a room.  Use with crisp, clean and bright hard finishes.  It is a beautiful color for interior walls, ceilings and trim, and gorgeous as a cabinet color.

Simply White kitchen cabinets

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Cabinets

What are the best trim and ceiling colors to pair with Simply White?

My favorite placement for Simply White is to paint the ceiling, walls and trim the same color, but with shifting sheens for a subtle movement of color.  The ceiling is flat, trim is satin and the walls can be painted eggshell.

Kitchen with white cabinets and Simply White walls and ceilings

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls and ceilings

If you want more contrast, pick a clean white for the trim and ceiling such as BM Chantilly Lace or BM Oxford White.  I like to use the same trim and ceiling whites in a room. They should be lighter than the wall color.

For trim and ceilings, don’t use blue-white colors such as BM White Diamond or BM Decorator’s White because they will look discordant with Simply White.

Darker whites such as BM White Dove, Cloud White or BM Swiss Coffee will look dingy as trim and ceilings when paired with Simply White walls.

When should I avoid Simply White?

Don’t use Simply White if you have earthy finishes with pink beige undertones such as travertine or tile with a Tuscan look.

Avoid Simply White with Carrara marble; is too cool to work with such a warm paint color.

If your house has this type of tile or granite (below), you should not use Simply White.  This was an after photo in one of our projects. These gorgeous cabinets were painted with BM Chelsea Gray; trim and ceiling are BM White Dove.

Photo by Michelle Marceny, BM Chelsea Gray cabinets

If your floor looks like this, don’t paint walls or trim Simply White.  This floor is beautiful paired with BM White Dove trim and BM Rockport Gray walls.

Photo by M. Marceny, Earthy slate floors with BM White Dove trim and BM Rockport Gray Walls.

Don’t pair Simply White with very cool whites such as BM Decorator’s White or BM White Diamond because they will look discordant with the warmth of Simply White.  The colors are ok together in natural light, but they can look off at night with artificial light.  I paired SW Extra White (a blue-white) trim and ceiling with Simply White in my house because I couldn’t afford to repaint my ceiling and trim.  It’s ok, but not perfect.

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls, SW Extra White doors and trim with lights on

How does Simply White change with light?

Simply White has strong yellow undertones that disappear in a bright, naturally-lit space but peek through as the light is darker.

The following photo was taken at 9:00 AM in an east-facing exposure with a covered porch.  The room is light and bright, and the Simply White wall color looks like a clean white.

Living room with BM Simply White walls and SW Extra White ceiling

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls, 9:00 AM, East facing room

This next photo is the same room taken at 3:09 PM, as the sun has moved to the other side of the house.  The room has less light and you can see the yellow undertones start to peek through.  Still beautiful!

Living room with BM Simply White walls and Extra White ceiling

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls, 3:09 PM, East facing room

Most of us turn the lights on at some point in the evening.  This photo shows a lighted hallway with Simply White walls and Extra White door and trim.

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls, Extra White trim, lighted entry.

Simply White can look great in every exposure- north, south, east or west.  In darker rooms it will flash more yellow (but in a pretty and very light way).

Here are photos of spaces with northwest exposure, one of the trickiest lights.  Light from the north is cool, and the west light starts darker in the morning and gets lighter in the afternoon.  Even though you may be looking at east windows, the light is coming from the west with a covered back porch.  These photos were taken in the morning when the light was lowest.  Again, these photos have not been re-touched for color or light.

Stairway with Simply White walls and ceilings

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls, ceiling, trim

 

Kitchen with white cabinets and rift oak island with Simply White walls

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls, ceiling, trim

 

Living room with Simply White walls and ceilings

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White Walls, 9:00 AM, East facing room

 

Entryway with Simply White walls, ceiling, trim

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls, ceiling, trim

This photo was taken in the afternoon.  The light streams in from a small sidelight window from an entry that faces west.

Front entry with BM Simply White walls

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls

The following photo is of the kitchen in my new house.  We moved into the house 18 months ago.  Originally it was painted SW Agreeable Gray, which looked dingy.  We repainted with SW White Duck, which looked nice.  Next was my Simply White experiment, and it is my favorite!

This photo shows the backlit east windows in the morning, and the Simply White still looks great.

Kitchen with SW Simply White walls and SW Extra White ceiling

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls

The following un-retouched photo is of the butler’s pantry going into the dining room (Granite Peak) with an east exposure in the morning:

Butler's pantry with Simply White walls

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White walls

 

Can I use Simply White for Exteriors?

The answer is… it depends.  What makes Simply so beautiful for interiors is that it has low pigment, which means that when you use it outside you may need to paint an extra coat or two, which increases the price of the paint job.  Also, Simply White is pretty bright for an exterior.  It could end up looking like primer.

There are always exceptions to the rules.  We used Simply White for the trim on this house, but it worked because we paired it with a clean and crisp yellow.  The brick was painted, so there were minimal earthy finishes.  The house was surrounded by large trees with lots of shade.  We wrote about this house here.

Historic home with BM Simply White trim and accents

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White trim

Can my painter match Simply White to Sherwin Williams?

The simple answer is NO!  You can’t match Simply White.  Many have tried and few have ever succeeded. This was a new build where the painter talked the homeowner into copying Simply White.  It turned green, and the painter had to repaint with the real Simply White.  It was a costly mistake for the whole house, which had to be repainted. It always goes green like the photo below.

Simply White compared to paint matched walls

Photo by M. Marceny, Un-retouched, BM Simply White sample compared to paint matched walls.

If you have to use Sherwin Williams, don’t paint match.  Instead use SW Pure White.  Its not the same and behaves a bit differently, but it is a nice color and your house will not go green.

Learn more about matching paint colors here.

The Verdict

Simply White is simply gorgeous! You can use it in bright rooms, poorly lit rooms and with crisp, clean hard finishes.  Don’t use Simply White with earthy Tuscan tile or stone such as Travertine.

No matter what, don’t forget to test your paint colors.  It’s a standard best practice.  Whenever I test my paint colors, they are perfect, and when I don’t test they turn out wrong. Learn how to test your paint colors here.

NEVER, EVER use paint matches from a different brand than the one specified.  Results are poor and there are no standards for the sheens.  Even though your painter may truly believe it can be done, don’t do it. See results from paint matching here.

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Simply White paint color review

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We love your comments! Please note that the blog is meant as general advice, and it is not possible to give out specific answers to your paint questions.  If you want more specific advice, please consider purchasing a color consultation. Thank you for your understanding.

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