THE BEST CREAMY SHADE OF WHITE? WE’LL SEE!
I always get a giggle when my Online Paint Color Consulting clients say they love cream, but don’t love yellow. Why is that funny? Well, because a) I’m easily amused when I’ve had two glasses of wine and b) because without yellow – there is no cream!
Creamy behind the mirror and on the wall in the reflection
The basic idea behind cream is to start with a light yellow color and add a neutral, like beige/black/gray. Once you do that, your ‘yellow’ turns into cream. The more neutral you mix in, the less yellow it gets until you eventually have beige or greige. You’ll also find creams with notes of orange, red, or green in them, adding more layers of flexibility.
Now, if you’ve read my color review on Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream, you’ll have learned about a ‘heavy cream’ – a cream that is not ‘fresh and light.’ You might’ve also explored my review of Benjamin Moore Ballet White, an epic cream/beige/gray blend. Today, we’re looking at a DIFFERENT type of cream, one on the lighter, fresher end of things – Sherwin Williams Creamy.
IS SW CREAMY CREAM, WHITE, OR OFF-WHITE?
Creamy is a warm off-white, neutral paint color. Being an off-white, it has more depth than traditional shades of white. If you’re looking for a creamy white, this COULD hit the spot, depending on what your perception of ‘white’ is, however, its depth makes it not as useable on trims and cabinets (in the average home). If you want a creamy white, I’ve got some great suggestions coming up shortly.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a lovely warm cream, Creamy might not do the trick for THAT type of color either!
Why is Creamy so tricky?
The most popular shades of cream had more obvious warm yellow undertones. With Creamy being toned down, it’s not always warm enough for the average cream connoisseur.
So, if it’s not REALLY a creamy white, and it’s not a traditional shade of cream either, what type of color IS Sherwin Williams Creamy?
As mentioned above, Creamy is a warm, flexible, off-white NEUTRAL paint color…with yellow undertones.
WHAT’S THE LRV OF CREAMY?
Creamy has an LRV of 81, which in the color world is PRETTY DARNED HIGH, and plants it on the edge of the white and off-white range. This is one reason why Creamy is often mistaken for a white paint color and mistakenly applied to trims and cabinets (or sometimes on purpose). And while it certainly suits some interior finishes, especially some of those from the early 2000s, Creamy isn’t flexible enough, is too dark, and is FAR too yellow for the average home’s finishes.
If you aren’t familiar with LRV, you should read this. It’s a game-changer when choosing colors – trust the Ginger. The basic idea is that the higher the LRV number is (on a scale of 0 to 100), the lighter a color is (closer to pure white); the lower the LRV number is, the darker the color is (closer to pure black).
WHAT ARE CREAMY’S UNDERTONES?
YELLOW – surprise, surprise! Well, yellow is its actual ‘color,’ but it has a NEUTRAL undertone that calms it down so that it’s not day-glo yellow – it’s a muted shade of cream.
That lovely neutral base helps it stay a bit softer and more neutral compared to a slightly more yellow off-white like Sherwin Williams Dover White (which I find a touch too yellow, personally).
Creamy darkened by 25% Photo JR Photography
CREAMY IN A SOUTH-FACING ROOM
South-facing light is a warm, yellow light that will enhance warm colors, bringing out their glorious warmth. So, when you put Creamy in a south-facing room, you can expect the creamy yellow warmth to rise UP and become a bit more noticeable. You may see a similar effect in the afternoon in a west-facing room, getting more golden-toned as the afternoon wears on.
These next two photos show the ABSOLUTE warmest I’ve ever seen Creamy look (south-facing/warm bulbs)…
CREAMY IN A NORTH OR EAST-FACING ROOM
I LOVE Creamy in a north-facing space; I believe that’s where it’s at its very best. Northern light is a gray light that can have a slight cool blue cast. This cool natural light calms Creamy, so it acts like a soft, subtle, almost not creamy color. It still has residual warmth, but it’s not noticeably as ‘yellow’ (you may see a similar effect in an east-facing room).
Shown here with Benjamin Moore Cloud White trim color
Click HERE or on the above image to see available packages!
IS CREAMY A GOOD OFF-WHITE FOR A DARK ROOM?
Well, I’ve said it before, and because I like to hear myself talk, I’ll say it again…
‘If you have a dark room and not enough artificial or natural light, no paint color will save you’ – Moi
You need to improve your interior lighting before you pick a paint color. Sure, Creamy will ‘help’ and might reflect some of the minimal natural or artificial light, but don’t expect it to work wonders if there’s not enough light for it to play with.
Can’t add more lighting to your room or hallway? Amazon sells wall sconces that are battery or remote-operated!
Creamy darkened by 25% Photo JR Photography
SAMPLIZE offers peel-and-stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER, and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots – AND THEY USE REAL PAINT FROM EACH BRAND!
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- They’re more affordable than the sample pots/rollers/foam boards that are needed for traditional paint sampling
Get your PEEL & STICK SAMPLE OF CREAMY HERE!
IS CREAMY A GOOD COLOR FOR A BRIGHT ROOM?
With its higher light reflectance value (81), you can expect Creamy to wash out on a well-lit wall – particularly at the height of day with direct sunlight on the walls. If you’re okay with a bright softness, this could be perfect. However, if you prefer to ALWAYS see a contrast between your walls and trims, you might look at shades of cream with lower LRVs. In a room with more average or slightly bright natural light, Creamy should hold itself as a soft, warm white/off-white as long as it has a brighter white (trim/cabinets) to contrast with.
IS CREAMY A GOOD COLOR FOR CABINETS & TRIMS?
Hard…no. If we’re talking about the average homeowner and average home, Creamy is too dark and too warm/yellow for cabinets and trims.
What do I mean, too dark, warm, and yellow?
Of course, you want the color of your trims and cabinets to match the surrounding finishes. The best way to do this is with a VERSATILE, flexible shade of white– which Creamy is not. These shades of white tend to have LRVs starting at 82, but more commonly hit 85-93. This increased brightness makes them easier to coordinate with should you want to change wall colors/finishes in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, Creamy is GORGEOUS on walls (I had it in our last home); it’s just a tougher sell for cabinets and trims UNLESS your home has particular finishes that need more depth and more warmth. These finishes are common in homes built in the early 2000s but also show up in more cottage, country, and even traditional-style homes.
What I’m saying is that Creamy COULD be good for your cabinets and trim; just make sure your home NEEDS its particular depth and warmth, as it’s not the ‘typical’ or popular choice. For example, this next home suits Creamy PERFECTLY…
WHAT WHITE TRIM OR CABINET COLOR GOES WITH CREAMY?
Most shades of white suit themselves when it comes to pairing wall colors with trims and cabinets. Because Creamy has a bit more depth, several shades of white coordinate with it for cabinets and trims…
- Sherwin Williams Alabaster – for a SUPER subtle contrast between walls and trims; if you want a touch more contrast, lighten Alabaster by 25%
- Benjamin Moore Cloud White
- Sherwin Williams White Snow – for a brighter, slightly cleaner pairing and more obvious contrast
Sherwin Williams Creamy walls with Cloud White trim
IS CREAMY A GOOD EXTERIOR PAINT COLOR FOR SIDING OR BRICK?
I wouldn’t do it. Why? While Creamy is a more MUTED shade of cream, it still has a reasonable amount of yellow that can come up CONSIDERABLY on an exterior, especially on your south or afternoon-west facing side.
If you want to paint your home a warm, soft white or off-white (like above), there are MANY better options out there, some of which you’ll see the links to next! However, if you WANT a soft yellow home…fill ‘yer boots.
WHAT COLORS ARE SIMILAR TO CREAMY?
If you’re looking for similar colors, remember that there will ALWAYS be a shift in undertones, depths, and temperature – there are no perfect matches between brands (especially not with color matching). However, for colors with similar intentions, I’ve got some great ones for you to explore…
SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY VS. ALABASTER
Alabaster is slightly lighter than Creamy, however, it has a comparable degree of warmth. Regarding cabinets and trims, Alabaster is by FAR the more popular choice as it has more flexibility than Creamy. If you’re looking for a nice trim color with Creamy, Alabaster offers a SUPER subtle contrast, that can be slightly increased by lightening it by 25% (or darkening Creamy).
SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY VS. DOVER WHITE
Creamy and Dover White have one interesting thing in common – they’re both whites I love for walls, but hesitate to suggest for cabinets and trims. When comparing Creamy and Dover White, you’ll see that Dover White has more chroma, meaning it’s a TOUCH more colorful. And while neither is really green-inclined, Creamy is slightly less likely to grab green, which is good for the average home.
SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY VS CASA BLANCA
I love comparing these two popular shades of cream! Why? Because Casa Blanca shows HOW MUTED and neutral Creamy is. Casa Blanca is closer to what most people consider a ‘real shade of cream,’ thanks to its higher chroma and beautiful warmth. Not to say Casa Blanca is TOO warm; it’s one of my favorite cream paint colors because it SAYS it’s cream and yellow-hued without punching you upside the head with color.
Casa Blanca is also darker than Creamy. With an LRV of 76 (to Creamy’s 81), Casa Blanca is a more traditional off-white paint color and offers more contrast with the average white trim color.
WHAT COLORS LOOK GOOD WITH CREAMY?
Creamy is an easy partner to live with as a wall color and suits a WIDE range of partners (just like me, wink wink…just joking). As a cabinet or trim color, you’ll have a tougher time finding a fit and may want to explore THE 16 BEST WALL COLORS TO UPDATE CREAM CABINETS OR TRIM.
- Creamy looks great with many stormy and warm shades of gray, as long as they’re DARKER than Creamy.
- Consider shades of greige with slightly noticeable green undertones to play with the warmth of Creamy, colors like Sherwin Williams Amazing Gray and Jogging Path.
- Accent walls that are green, navy blue, and even some dark charcoal grays look GORGEOUS with Creamy. Check out my medium to dark green blog post, as well as the best shades of navy blue. If you’re looking for warmer accents, I’d hop over to Benjamin Moore, as they have a much wider range of rusty red oranges like Sherwin Williams Tawny Rose and Fresh Clay.
- Creamy will be happy with many shades of tan, but fussy with stronger creams and some shades of beige.
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Originally written in 2018, awesomely updated for photos, grammar n’ stuff 2023