The Best Off-Whites for Walls, Trim, Furniture and More…
Everything you need to know…
(I have 2 videos on whites at the end of this blog post – check them out!)
More than any other colour, off-white is tricky because the undertones can be subtle and hard to see with the bare eye. In fact, when looked at independent of other colours, many off-whites just look like plain old white!
So how do you pick the White that is right for your home? Compare, Compare, Compare. Comparison is one of the best ways to see the undertones in any colour without losing your mind.
It’s also important to do your research and that’s where I come on the scene (darn I’m handy sometimes).
So here it is my friends…
Cloud White is popular because it sits right in the middle of things with it’s warm, but still relatively neutral undertones. Does it look like white? Yes, if you don’t compare it to anything else and just eyeball it on its own then yes, it looks like white – without being as stark. However, compared to some of the more ‘clean and fresh’ off-whites, it is a bit grayish/neutral feeling.
Simply White is one of my favourite off-whites because it is a) close to white, without being as stark and b) is fresh and bright without committing to any definite undertone other than a subtle yellow/warmth. Simply White will look like white, until it’s compared with ‘stark white’ (like solid white paper.)
Simply White is brighter and slightly more ‘clean and fresh‘ looking than Cloud White and significantly brighter than White Dove (shown below).
White Dove is more of a calming off-white and almost has a more ‘creamy/greige’ feeling in comparison to the white/off-white sensibilities of Cloud White and Simply White. White Dove does not look like white, even without comparison you can see how it’s just a bit softer than ‘white’ and a wee smidge darker than Simply White and Cloud White – while still staying in the off-white/yellow range.
White Dove is a warm off-white but has a lot more of a gray/greige base to it.
Choosing the Best White or Off-White for Trims, Doors and Ceilings
If you are building a new home, choosing any of these whites for your ceilings, trims and doors is a great way to start off on the right foot.
However, if you are not building a new home it’s likely that you are transitioning out of your old white trim and ceilings and into a new and fresh paint colour.
Choosing a White for Your Ceiling
When it comes to ceilings it’s easy, if you are painting ONLY THE CEILING, choose the white/off-white colour you want and paint it. Realistically, there’s usually enough separation between ceilings and trims that a shift in undertone won’t be very noticeable (unless you’re really anal like me and then you may as well paint bomb your whole house).
If you are painting your trims/doors AND ceiling, it is easiest to paint the ceiling the same colour as the trims and doors.
However, when it comes to trims and doors it’s not usually as straightforward. Homeowners rarely know ‘which white’ their trim was painted as it was a) painted years ago or b) painted by the previous owner. So usually what we’re dealing with is a white that ‘seems’ white (but usually isn’t) or a white that has clearly aged and is impossible to colour match. So, if you are ready for a re-fresh – read on…
Cloud White on Doors and Trims
Via Benjamin Moore
- Cloud White is the top choice for trims and doors because it acts a lot like white – without looking cold and in fact almost looks ‘cream’ compared to stark whites
- If you choose Cloud White and are transitioning with old trim/doors you will need to paint both doors and trims. If you don’t, you will likely see the difference in undertone between your old white paint colour and Cloud White wherever they meet
- Cool colours such as blue and green may bring out the subtle warm undertone in Cloud White
Simply White on Doors and Trims
Via The Lettered Cottage (who I love btw)
Simply White. Simply White often comes close to matching ‘old trim/door colours’ so if there’s any colour you can get away with not painting one or the other it’s this one (ie: you want to freshen up your trims but would rather not have to do the doors). However, check carefully. Paint ages over time (particularly oil which is common on older trims/doors) and you want to make sure that the colour connection is pretty bang-on.
White Dove on Doors and Trims
Via Inspired Room
White Dove. White Dove is usually a bit heavier looking than the old/existing trim colours. If you choose White Dove you’ll want to paint the trims and the doors.
The top photo (exterior photo) is great because you can see the white around the windows and directly next to it you can see the White Dove trim – this shows you just how different White Dove is from ‘stark white’.
In the bottom photo, you can see how well White Dove works with browns, taupes and grays
So what’s the gist of all of this? If you wanting to refresh either your doors or your trims, you’re likely going to have to do both, otherwise one will look dingy compared to the other.
Choosing the Best Off-White / White For Cabinets and Furniture
When you’re looking to update old oak cabinets or that buffet and hutch from Grandma, White is a great choice as it’s timeless and flexes into almost every style. So which White is best for you?
Cloud White on Cabinets or Furniture
Cloud White. Cloud White works well on Cabinets and Furniture. However, we come across an issue when the cabinets get painted, but the white trim work in the room doesn’t. Because trim is most often ‘white’ you WILL see the difference between your cabinets and your trims (particularly around windows and door casings that are close to the cabinets)
Things to Consider
- You might want to consider freshening up any trims/doors in that room.
- If you have white appliances you will notice the difference between your cabinets and your appliances as the yellowish undertone in Cloud White will be brighter and warmer looking than the cooler tone of the white appliances. While this isn’t a deal-breaker or particularly obvious to most people, ideally you would have stainless steel appliances to avoid this altogether.
Simply White on Cabinets and Furniture
Source Rom Architecture
Simply White. Simply White looks great on cabinets as it’s fresh and bright and ‘looks white’.
Things to Consider
- Because Simply White usually transitions ‘well-enough’ with older painted trims/doors you don’t usually need to worry about them clashing.
- If you have white appliances you will still notice the difference between the whites, but it won’t be terribly noticeable.
- Simply White will be a brighter white than Cloud White
White Dove on Cabinets and Furniture
Via Inspired Room
White Dove looks LOVELY on cabinets and furniture, however when it comes to kitchens it presents the same challenges as Cloud White in that it rarely blends well with ‘other whites’ (trims/appliances)
Things to Consider
- If you choose White Dove you will want to paint the trims/doors in that same room in White Dove
- If you have white appliances White Dove will look quite different. You may want to look at stainless steel appliances.
- If you have exposed hinges, White Dove looks the best of the 3 as it’s slightly lower contrast than the other 2, making the hinges feel more at home (unless you’re going for a certain type of country look – which most people aren’t)
Choosing the Best White / Off White for Walls
If you’re looking for a fresh and bright look then look no further than White! White is great for many reasons, one of those being that you can paint your trims and walls the same colour – nice!
Cloud White, Simply White and White Dove all look stunning on walls and hopefully the above notes will help you choose exactly the White that is right for you.
Cloud White on Walls
Simply White on Walls
White Dove on Walls
White Dove: House Tweaking
In the bottom photo, you can see how fresh and warm White Dove looks in this bathroom. If you visit her AMAZING blog (link above) you’ll see how she used this colour on the walls, trim and ceiling – MAGNIFIQUE!
Things to Consider
- If you are painting your trims the same colour as your walls, pay attention to sheen. Not many people want ‘ulti-matte, flat or eggshell finish on their trim work as traditionally it’s not as wipeable as a nice satin or semi-gloss finish.
- If you have white windows, Simply White would be your best bet if you’re going for a ‘seamless’ look.
- The warmth of Cloud White will help to neutralize a North Facing room and won’t overwhelm a South Facing room.
- Simply White will present a more bright and fresh look than Cloud White. This does not mean that Cloud White will look murky or dull – it’s still bright and fresh – Simply White is just that next level up.
- White Dove is great for any room – North, South, East or West. If you have ‘white’ trims, White Down can look lovely on walls for a very subtle low-contrast look.
- If you place Cloud White with blue, green or purple paint it may bring out the yellow undertones
Related Videos Starring ME!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learning about these great colours~!
Not sure which white is best for you and your home? Check out my affordable Online Color Consulting – starting at $45!
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