The 3 Most Popular WARM Whites for Walls, Trim, Cabinets and More…
Everything you need to know…
(I have two videos on whites at the end of this blog post – check them out!)
More than any other paint colour, 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 colours, many 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.
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 Colour Consulting…
Do my white walls need to be the same white as my trim colour?
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 an easy thing to do. 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.
For example, if you have Super White on your trim (or a super white-white) and want to paint your walls Simply White, Super White will EXPOSE the yellow undertones in Simply White. Or say you want to use BM Chantilly Lace on your walls and have Cloud White on your trim – seriously, I start twitching even thinking about it. UNDERTONES MATTER, especially with whites.
All of the surfaces are the same white, any shift you’re seeing is in SHEEN
Long story short, if you want to paint your walls white, I recommend painting your trim, doors and ceilings the SAME white. If you already HAVE white on your trim and KNOW what the colour name is, I would suggest continuing that colour on the walls.
A few things to remember about white…
- White is the MOST REFLECTIVE colour. This means it WILL pick up colours from the environment and toss ’em back in your face. That green grass outside your window? Yup. That 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 and cabinets
- When choosing a white, exposure is the BIGGEST 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 colour 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 sheens 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!
Now, let’s get into the guts n’ the glory and look at the 3 Best White Paint Colours!
3 Popular White Paint Colours
Remember, just because they’re POPULAR, doesn’t mean they will work EVERYWHERE or are the easiest to work with – they all have some serious considerations…
1.Benjamin Moore Cloud White CC-40 / 967
Cloud White is popular because it sits right in the middle of things with its warm, but still relatively neutral undertones. Not too stark or icy and not too yellow.
Does it look like white? Well, no, but on the computer screen, most things won’t look white. In REAL-life, if you look at the small paint chip it will look generally white, but on the large scale, it won’t have the clean simple look of white, it will have a lovely warm softness to it.
Cloud White on Doors and Trims
Cloud White is shown here with SW Creamy on the walls. COMPARED to Creamy, Cloud White does look ‘white’, but that’s only thanks to Creamy and the fact that it has MORE warmth/body to it.
Cloud White on Cabinets and Furniture
Cloud White works well on cabinets and furniture. However, you’ll come across an issue if the cabinets get painted, but the white trim in the room doesn’t. Because trim is most often relatively white, you WILL likely see the difference between your cabinets and your trims (particularly around windows and door casings that are close to the cabinets).
If you have white appliances, I would stay WELL away from Cloud White as appliances white is too clean and cool for the warmth of Cloud White.
Cloud White on Walls
Cloud White can be gorgeous on walls as long as you’re comfortable with the warmth of it. 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 White Dove, which is a bit more subdued as Cloud White DOES have a reasonable, but not overwhelming, yellow-creamy warmth to it.
You’ll also want 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.
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 white paint
- 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 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 colours or stormy cool colours. It isn’t always as great with icy cold colours
- It’s often the top choice for trims and doors because it’s a familiar name in the paint world. However, there are ‘whiter whites’ out there as Cloud White is DEFINITELY a warm white. Not as warm as the likes of SW Dover White, but still warm
- Cool colours such as blue and green can enhance the subtle warm undertone in Cloud White. Many cream and beige paint colours love Cloud White because of its warmth (as shown above)
2. Benjamin Moore Simply White OC-117 / 2143-70
Simply White is a popular white because it looks the CLOSEST to white (of the three on this page) and has a subtle, pretty yellow tucked inside of it. PERSONALLY, I usually find it a wink too yellow (but it’s not ALL about me…not all the time anyway).
Simply White is brighter and slightly more clean and fresh looking than Cloud White and significantly brighter than White Dove (shown below). 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.
Simply White on Doors and Trims
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 colour 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 and 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 closeby.
Things to Consider
- 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 colours, Simply White is a great choice, knowing that the cool paint colours can slightly enhance the warmth of Simply White
Read more: The Full Colour Review of Simply White
3. Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17
White Dove is more of a calming soft white and has an almost creamy/greige feeling in comparison to the cleaner approach of Simply White (White Dove is a personal fave).
White Dove does not look like a true white, but it’s close, especially if you have good natural light.
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
- At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing 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 and trims
White Dove is usually a bit heavier looking than the old/existing trim colours, so if you choose White Dove for one surface, you’ll likely want to paint the other white surfaces as well for consistency and flow.
White Dove on cabinets and furniture
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) or with the more modern white quartz/marble countertops.
See the fabulous before and afters here
White Dove on Walls
White Dove is a fabulous white for walls. With its passive warmth, it can settle nicely in a south-facing room, which will enhance the warmth of it, while looking more subdued in a north-facing room as the gray light coming in the windows calms that warmth down a bit. If you are looking for predictable WARMTH though, in any exposure, this might not be warm enough and you’ll want to check out the cream range of paint colours as well.
Things to Consider
- If you choose White Dove you’ll want ALL of the white surfaces in the room to be White Dove
- If you have white appliances White Dove will look quite different. You may want to look at stainless steel appliances or a cleaner, more simple 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 colours for the walls
- If you partner White Dove with cool paint colours/finishes, it will slightly enhance the warmth of it. White Dove really loves to be partnered with many of the popular greige and beige colours.
Not sure which white is best for you and your home?
Check out my affordable Online Color Consulting
I have a TON of related articles if you’d like to learn more!