Benjamin Moore Simply White (OC-117) 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.
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.
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Simply White LRV
Simply White has an LRV of 91.7 which makes it a bright white. This crisp off-white paint color has lots of yellow, which is what makes it light up a room. LRV is short for Light Reflectance Value, which is a measurement of how light (LRV=100) or dark (LRV=0) a color is.
When should I use Simply White?
Use Simply White when you want to update a room with crisp, clean and bright hard finishes. It is a beautiful color for interior walls, ceilings and trim, and gorgeous as a cabinet color.
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.
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 to avoid Simply White
Don’t use this white color 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.
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.
Don’t pair this white paint color 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.
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.
East Facing Exposure
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.
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!
The following photo is of the kitchen in my new house. We moved into the house 18 months ago and 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-facing windows in the morning, and the Simply White still looks great.
The following photo is of the butler’s pantry going into the dining room (Granite Peak) with an east exposure in the morning:
With Warm Lighting
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.
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.
This photo was taken in the afternoon with West exposure. I love the way that the light streams in from a small sidelight window from an entry that faces west.
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.
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. This was a costly mistake for the homeowner and the painter because the house had to be repainted. It always goes green like the photo below.
If you have to use Sherwin Williams, don’t paint match. Instead, use SW Pure White. It’s 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.
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 as 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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