The TOP 4 WARM whites for walls, trims, cabinets & more…
Have you been looking for the perfect shade of warm white for your home? Are you tired of sampling DOZENS of colors with no success? Your search stops here.
More than any other paint color, white can be tricky because the undertones are subtle and hard to see with the bare eye. In fact, when looked at independently of other colors, many whites just look like plain old white! This is why you’re DARN lucky to have a little Ginger in your back pocket (I pinch upon request).
But before we get into the Wild World of White, I want to answer a question that I’m asked ALL the time in my Online Color Consulting…
DO MY WALLS & TRIM NEED TO MATCH/BE THE SAME WHITE?
Generally speaking, yes. There is the ODD good combo, but it’s like trying to find a wine that goes well with Kraft Dinner – it’s not easy. Because whites are highly competitive with each other, if they have different undertones, or if one is ‘white-white’ and the other has an undertone (which it will), they will go head-to-head and expose each other.
If you WANT one white to enhance the undertones in another, then, by all means, choose different whites – I just don’t recommend it. Most of my clients who want white walls and trim (and cabinets) want a cohesive look.
Want to learn more? Read this – White Paint Colors – Do My Walls, Trims & Cabinets Need To Match?
All surfaces are the same white; any shift you see is in SHEEN.
But how do you CHOOSE the best white for your home?
Compare, Compare, Compare.
Comparison is the BEST way to see the undertones in any color—end of story.
A FEW MORE QUICK NOTES BEFORE WE GET STARTED…
- WHITE IS THE MOST REFLECTIVE COLOR. This means it WILL pick up colors from the environment and toss ’em back in your face. That green grass outside your window? Yup. Your northern exposure with its gray/blue light? Uh-huh. The red brick wall directly outside your window? You bet! So keep this in mind when looking at whites. This effect is reduced on the trim/doors but is MUCH easier to see on walls as they’re a larger expanse.
- When choosing a white, exposure is a HUGE consideration. If you want to read more about exposures, I have blog posts about north, south, east, and west and what you can expect from the light they provide.
And most importantly, SHEEN greatly affects how a paint color looks. Even if you do the SAME white on the walls, trims, ceilings, and cabinets, you will see a subtle shift from surface to surface as the different paint finishes react to the light – very cool.
Check out this photo…
The walls, trim, and railings are all painted the SAME white (Sherwin Williams Pure White) and are only slightly different because of the change of sheen and positioning of the walls (shading on the ceiling, for example).
If you want to mix and match whites, do so at your own risk, but you better make sure those undertones are jibing!
THE 3 MOST POPULAR SHADES OF WARM WHITE
Remember, just because they’re POPULAR doesn’t mean they will work EVERYWHERE – they all have some serious considerations…
1. WARM WHITE: BENJAMIN MOORE CLOUD WHITE CC-40 / 967
Cloud White is one of the most popular warm white paint colors for a few reasons…
- Its degree of warmth/yellow undertone suits a reasonably wide variety of shades, including warm and cool colors.
- Cloud White isn’t a very BRIGHT white (The 5 Types of White); it’s closer to the soft end of things (LRV 85), making it a popular choice for FLEXIBILITY.
- It’s been around a long time, so the name is familiar.
Will Cloud White look like a TRUE white?
Generally, no, as its LRV and warmth set it slightly apart. However, as long as it’s the WHITEST white in the space, it will be darn close.
CLOUD WHITE ON DOORS & TRIMS
Cloud White is shown here with Sherwin Williams Quiver Tan on the walls. You’ll find that Cloud White works ESPECIALLY well with richer, warmer earth tones, but again, it’s flexible towards a variety of other colors.
CLOUD WHITE ON CABINETS & FURNITURE
If you have white appliances (including GE Cafe White) or a bright white subway tile backsplash, I would stay WELL away from Cloud White as they will be too ‘clean and cool’ for the warmth of Cloud White – white subway tile will make Cloud White look yellow in comparison. Instead, you might look at cool whites like Benjamin Moore Super White or Brilliant White or, at the very least, Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.
CLOUD WHITE ON WALLS
These exposures will enhance the warmth of Cloud White, making it look that bit creamier/more yellow. This is less the case in SUPER bright rooms, as the amount of natural light will wash out the walls.
Cloud White with Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
However, as much as I love Cloud White, when my clients are looking for warm white or off-white walls but DON’T like yellow (a common request), I’m more likely to direct them toward Benjamin Moore White Dove (coming up next). Remember, Cloud White DOES have a reasonable, but not overwhelming, yellow-creamy warmth.
You’ll notice the mention of EXPOSURE in the above paragraphs. You have to consider exposure when choosing a white. A white that comes up JUST PERFECT in a north-facing room could look too warm in a south-facing room. A white that’s the perfect warmth in a south-facing space could fall flat in a north-facing room – sometimes, it’s about finding that perfect balance!
A BIT MORE ABOUT CLOUD WHITE
- If you’re painting one white surface in Cloud White, you’ll probably want to paint ALL of the white surfaces the same, as there is usually a decent shift between Cloud White and traditional shades of white.
- If you have white appliances, you’ll notice the difference between your cabinets and your appliances as the yellowish hue in Cloud White will be brighter and warmer than the cooler tone of white appliances. While this isn’t a deal-breaker or particularly obvious to some people, ideally, you would have stainless steel appliances to avoid this altogether OR choose a brighter, cleaner white.
- The warmth of Cloud White will help to neutralize a north-facing room and will look a bit warmer in a south-facing room.
- Cloud White better suits warm paint colors or stormy cool colors. It isn’t always as great with icy-cold colors.
- While Cloud White is a FAMILIAR color, there are ‘whiter whites’ out there and more VERSATILE whites – but this isn’t to say that Cloud White isn’t perfect for you and YOUR home!
- Cool hues such as blue and green, as well as gray with these undertones, can enhance the subtle warm undertone in Cloud White.
2. WARM WHITE: BENJAMIN MOORE SIMPLY WHITE OC-117 / 2143-70
Simply White is another popular shade for walls, cabinets, and trims – let’s find out why…
- It’s the CLOSEST to being a genuine white (of the three warm whites on this page). This is due to its high LRV of almost 90.
- It has a yellow undertone, which makes it not as stark as more traditional true whites.
Simply White trim, ceiling, and cabinets with Benjamin Moore Collingwood walls
If you want a white that’s cleaner and fresher than White Dove (coming up next) and brighter than Cloud White, Simply White could do the trick. It will generally look white until it’s compared with stark white (like a solid white paper) – it’s via comparison that you’ll see its undertones rise, and those hues are YELLOW.
SIMPLY WHITE ON TRIMS & DOORS
Generally speaking, Simply White is a beautiful color for trims, doors, ceilings, and cabinets as long you’re okay with that wink o’ yellow. The undertone IS more subtle on trims than on cabinets/walls (as the surface area is smaller). If you’re trying to coordinate with an existing white in your home, be careful. If your current white isn’t a warm/yellow-white, it could look MUCH cooler up against the yellow of Simply White.
SIMPLY WHITE ON CABINETS & FURNITURE
Simply White looks great on cabinets as it’s fresh and bright and ‘looks white’ as long as you don’t have a cleaner white nearby. It’s touch and go with some of the popular white quartz countertops simply because they don’t have the same yellow in them.
A BIT MORE ABOUT SIMPLY WHITE
- If you have white appliances, you’ll definitely notice the difference as Simply White will look CONSIDERABLY more yellow against white appliances.
- Simply White will be a brighter white than Cloud White or White Dove (next up).
- If you want to enhance cool paint colors, Simply White is a great choice, knowing that the cool paint colors can slightly enhance the warmth of Simply White.
- Simply White is a pretty shade of white for various beige/tan paint colors, as long as they don’t have orange-pink undertones.
3. BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE OC-17
White Dove is my PERSONAL favorite regarding Benjamin Moore’s warm white paint colors. So, let’s take a closer look at this bad boy…
- White Dove is a SOFT white, not a bright one, giving it a gentler approach.
- White Dove has a yellow undertone, but it’s muted by a neutral base – more so than Simply White.
- Regarding flexibility, White Dove is the MOST flexible of the three, humoring a wide range of wall partners, including many shades of beige, greige, gray, and more colorful hues.
However, whereas Simply White has a higher LRV, putting it closer to the TRUE white end of things, with White Dove’s lower LRV (83), White Dove most often LOOKS like a soft white. So, rather than being more crisp and bright, it looks more delicate and subtle.
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WHITE DOVE ON DOORS & TRIMS
White Dove is softer looking than the shades of white that builders USUALLY use on trims and doors. So, if you have an existing white that’s BRIGHTER than White Dove and want to repaint one surface, you’ll likely want to paint the other white surfaces for consistency and flow.
WHITE DOVE ON CABINETS & FURNITURE
White Dove looks AMAZING 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) or with SOME of the more modern white quartz/marble countertops.
However, if, like my next client, you want a slightly more layered/less-blending approach, White Dove can be a STUNNING choice…
WHITE DOVE ON WALLS
White Dove is my favorite shade of white for walls. With its passive warmth, it can settle nicely in a south-facing room, enhancing its warmth. On the other hand, it will look more subdued in a north-facing room as the gray light in the windows calms that warmth down a bit. Although, if you’re looking for predictable WARMTH, in any exposure, this might not be warm enough, and you’ll want to check out the cream colors or a white with more yellow in it.
Comparing colors is one of the best ways to find your best shade. If you’re exploring White Dove, I recommend checking out Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee (even though I PERSONALLY have mixed feelings about it, people love it!) and Sherwin Williams Alabaster (one of SW’s best warm whites), as well as Greek Villa.
A FEW MORE DETAILS ABOUT WHITE DOVE:
- If you choose White Dove, you’ll want ALL of the white surfaces in the room to be White Dove.
- With white appliances, White Dove will look quite a bit warmer and softer – you may want to look at stainless steel appliances (or a different shade of white).
- White Dove is great for any room – north, south, east, or west as long as you understand how it can shift from space to space (losing some warmth in northern or eastern light and warming up in southern and afternoon western light).
- I find White Dove the most FLEXIBLE of the three whites when accommodating paint colors for the walls.
- If you partner White Dove with cool paint colors/finishes, this will slightly enhance its warmth.
- White Dove really loves to be partnered with warm earth tones, including some of the popular beige/tan paint colors, as well as many warm gray, greige, and taupe paint colors.
- Of these three, White Dove is the best white paint color for the average home. I only shift to Cloud White or Simply White when I need a more noticeable warmth.
4. BENJAMIN MOORE CHANTILLY LACE
At first glance, Chantilly Lace doesn’t look warm, which is part of its appeal. This popular shade of white has an LRV just over 90, making it a bright white (but not a true white). And while it has a wink of warmth (yellow), you’ll hardly know it unless you compare it to a true shade of white like Sherwin Williams High Reflective White.
As shown in this gorgeous kitchen, the SUPER subtle warmth of Chantilly Lace shows up against the slightly cool tones of the marble backsplash and quartz countertop…
This might have you thinking it’s the PERFECT white for your home; however, being a brighter white, it’s not what everyone looks for when they think of a typical ‘warm white.’ It lives in the green-yellow family. You won’t know to look at it, so don’t worry. It has such a LOW chroma that its backdrop is softer than a true white, with no obvious undertone. In fact, knowing that it’s in this family blows my mind, based on my hands-on experience with it in every type of home. I don’t like green-yellow hues at all…ever, yet I wouldn’t hesitate to use this badass beauty in my home.
Just remember, white reflects light thanks to its high LRV. And with Chantilly Lace being higher than many others, it reflects a LOT of light.
Check out this next photo – on the left-hand wall, you see a yellow (yellow-green) hue. On the left upper cabinet, there’s a touch of pink undertone. Now, move to the far left and see a cooler, grayish cast. THANK YOU, MOTHER NATURE!
A FEW MORE DETAILS ABOUT CHANTILLY LACE
- Chantilly Lace is Benjamin Moore’s most versatile, bright white.
- Sherwin Williams doesn’t have a color that quite compares – your closest would be Sherwin Williams Extra White or maybe White Snow.
- Chantilly Lace is a popular choice for marble finishes and ‘whole home’ trim/ceiling/door applications.
WHAT’S THE BEST WARM WHITE PAINT COLOR THAT DOESN’T LOOK YELLOW?
To get a warm shade of white, you need either yellow, pink (red) or orange undertones. There aren’t any great warm whites that cater to orange – yellow and pink are the typical hues. So, if you’re looking for a warm white with no yellow, the only way to get warmth will be via pink. The best whites with pink undertones are Benjamin Moore Atrim White and Sherwin Williams Arcade White.
As for the best warm white with the LEAST amount of noticeable yellow undertone, I would check out Sherwin Williams Pure White. It has yellow in it, but it’s the most subtle approach. If you find that ALL whites look yellow, consider adjusting the Kelvins of your bulbs to be above 3000K.
With Benjamin Moore, your best shot at no yellow undertones (before you head into the cool whites) will be Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace. It has the least yellow undertone while offering a passive (suuuuper passive) warmth. Benjamin Moore Oxford White also takes a reasonable shot at the title but does have more of an undertone than Chantilly.
If a white doesn’t have yellow, pink, or orange hues – it’s not warm.
I have a TON of related articles if you’d like to learn more!
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WRITTEN IN 2019, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2023