The TOP 3 WARM whites for walls, trims, cabinets & more…
Have you been looking for the perfect warm white paint color 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 independent 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 white walls need to be the same white as my trim color?
Generally speaking, yes. There is the ODD good combo, but it’s like trying to find a wine that goes good 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 of the surfaces are the same white, any shift you’re seeing 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 re: 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 looking 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 WARM WHITE PAINT COLORS
Remember, just because they’re POPULAR, doesn’t mean they will work EVERYWHERE – they all have some serious considerations…
1. 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, is flexible towards a variety of other colors.
CLOUD WHITE ON CABINETS & FURNITURE
If you have white appliances or a more true 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. Instead, you might look at a cooler white like Benjamin Moore Super White or at the very least, Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace.
CLOUD WHITE ON WALLS
The warmth of Cloud White will be enhanced by these exposures.
Cloud White with Benjamin Moore Gray Owl
When I have clients who are looking for white or off-white walls and don’t mind a bit of warmth, but DON’T like yellow (a common request), I’m more likely to direct them toward Benjamin Moore White Dove, which is a bit more subdued. Remember, Cloud White DOES have a reasonable, but not overwhelming, yellow-creamy warmth to it.
You’ll notice the mention of EXPOSURE in the above paragraphs. Remember, 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 is 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 will notice the difference between your cabinets and your appliances as the yellowish hue 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 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 that 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 as well as 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. BENJAMIN MOORE SIMPLY WHITE OC-117 / 2143-70
Simply White is another popular shade of white – 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 92.
- 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
Simply White is brighter and slightly more clean and fresh looking than Cloud White and significantly brighter than White Dove (coming up next). It will generally look like white until it’s compared with stark white (like a solid white paper) – it’s via comparison that you’ll see its undertones rise up, and those hues are YELLOW.
SIMPLY WHITE ON TRIMS & DOORS
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. Generally speaking though, 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).
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 anywhere close by. 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 will notice the difference between the whites and 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 a variety of 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 favourite when it comes to 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 more gentle approach.
- White Dove has a yellow undertone, but it’s muted by a neutral base – more so than Simply White.
- When it comes to 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 soft and subtle.
Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
- if you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
WHITE DOVE ON DOORS & TRIMS
White Dove is softer looking than what 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 as well 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, which will enhance the warmth of it. On the other hand, it will look more subdued in a north-facing room as the gray light coming 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 range of paint colors or a white with more yellow in it.
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 to be the most FLEXIBLE of the three whites when it comes to accommodating paint colors for the walls
- if you partner White Dove with cool paint colors/finishes, this will slightly enhance the warmth of it
- 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
I have a TON of related articles if you’d like to learn more!
Not sure which white is best for you and your home?
Check out my affordable Online Color Consulting
WRITTEN IN 2019, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2020