The TOP Warm Shades of White
You’ll find Sherwin William’s near the top of every list regarding the most popular warm white paint colors. However, with many people being sensitive to yellow undertones, you must be careful.
Warm white paint colors can EASILY overcommit to yellow, leaving you with walls that look more CREAMY than white. And while Sherwin’s whites certainly offer some warmth, you can choose from a RANGE, leaving you room to commit to as little or as much yellow as you like!
If a white paint color has no yellow, pink (red), or orange undertones, it’s not a warm white.
That’s right, you need COLOR for a white to be warm. Warm colors are yellow, red, and orange. While orange isn’t a thing in the top shades of white, yellow is the leading undertone in all popular warm whites. As for pink, few people want a pink-based white as it’s too limiting on a large scale.
But before we take a look at these wondrous whites, let’s have a little chat about exposure (not the indecent kind…not this time, anyway).
WHITE PAINT COLORS & EXPOSURE
More so than ANY other paint color, white responds to its environment.
White paint colors have the highest LRVs. If you don’t know about LRV, the quick n’ dirty is that every paint color has a number on a scale of 0-100 that tells you how light or dark it is. 100 is the brightest, and 0 is the darkest (well, 94 is actually the WHITEST white we can get, but I don’t want to totally nerd out on you).
LRV stands for LIGHT REFLECTANCE VALUE, which lets you know how much light a color will reflect.
White paint colors run between 82-94 (approx), meaning they reflect a HECK OF A LOT OF LIGHT. So, if you give your white walls a tinted light, they’ll pick it up. And while you might never have realized it, different EXPOSURES can cast a variety of colors on our walls!
- SOUTH-FACING LIGHT – yellow hue
- NORTH-FACING LIGHT – gray with a wink of cool blue
- EAST – nothing notable in the morning, flattens colors in the afternoon (slightly gray)
- WEST – flattens colors somewhat in the morning, adds yellow-orange-pink in the afternoon
What does this mean to YOU?
As it relates to whites, if you choose an overly warm white and have a south-facing light or western afternoon sunshine, it’s going to look EVEN WARMER. If this is cool beans with you, great. If not, you may want to look at a warm white that’s a BIT more muted (i.e., Pure White, which you’ll see shortly).
On the other side, if you have north-facing light and choose a warm white that’s more on the subtle side, you risk picking up some of the cool gray-blue light from your exposure. In this case, you might choose a white that leans MORE into its warmth (i.e., Alabaster or Greek Villa, which are coming up shortly).
And funny enough, having more than ONE of the above exposures can make life easier as you often have a bit more balanced, flexible light in your space.
Can you tell I’ve drank WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE TODAY?
Must be time for wine.
Anyway, let’s get onto the colors you came for!
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS ALABASTER 7008
Alabaster is one of the SOFTEST, creamiest warm whites from Sherwin – any darker, and it will be more off-white. This is because Alabaster has an LRV of 82, putting it right on the edge of the off-white range.
As long as Alabaster is the whitest white in your space, and you don’t partner it with a finish that’s WHITER than it (in other words, I would never wear shorts in a room with Alabaster walls), it will act more like white (albeit, a soft one).
In this mudroom/hallway, Alabaster is partnered with Extra White trim, which makes Alabaster look warmer in comparison…
2. SHERWIN WILLIAMS PURE WHITE 7005
While I have mad love for Alabaster’s soft warmth, it’s Pure White that has my heart. Well, Pure White and Ryan Reynolds or Ryan Gosling, but there’s only ONE of them I can plaster on my walls (although a girl can dream).
Pure White is also Sherwin Williams’s most popular shade of white – and for good reason. While no white is fool-proof, it’s one of the few that satisfies a wide range of homes, finishes, and tastes.
What makes Pure White so great is that while it’s a soft white with warmth, it’s the most SUBTLE warm white with the least yellow undertone – especially when you compare it to shades like Alabaster, Greek Villa (coming up next), and Benjamin Moore White Dove (equally as popular).
With its LRV of 84, not only is it less warm than Alabaster (82), but it’s also a bit brighter. As for Greek Villa, it’s warmer/more yellow-toned than Pure White and also a bit brighter with its LRV of 86.
If you’re choosing between Alabaster and Pure White and have a home with both south AND north-facing rooms, please note that Pure White is far more likely to pick up a bit of a cool hue in northern light. On the other hand, Alabaster (or Greek Villa) is better at handling a cooler exposure without losing as much of its warmth.
As far as warm whites go, Pure White is the white with the least yellow undertone. Remember, it needs a touch of yellow to BE a warm white (if it doesn’t have yellow and it’s still a warm white, it has pink instead).
3. SHERWIN WILLIAMS GREEK VILLA 7551
Greek Villa is like a hybrid between Alabaster and Pure White. While it has a similar WARMTH to Alabaster, it’s a bit brighter, having the same LRV as Pure White. So, if you find Pure White NOT warm enough, but you like its DEPTH, Greek Villa could be the perfect choice for you!
If you want to discover which white trim color goes with Greek Villa, read this!
I would be cautious of Greek Villa in a south-facing room, worrying it will look TOO yellow. However, if you have moderate light and mixed exposures, it can be gorgeous.
Now, just because these are the most popular warm whites with my clients doesn’t mean they’re warm enough for YOU. If you want something with MORE warmth, you’ve got options, but first, let’s have a quick chat (famous last words).
Kylie M E-Design with JR PHOTOGRAPHY
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, it’s easy for whites to become overwhelmed with YELLOW. And even if this is what you’re looking for, it WILL limit you in the future as it relates to using it on cabinets and trim. In fact, a few of the shades listed below are whites that I would NEVER PAINT MY TRIM OR CABINETS – hard no. However, they’re OFTEN whites that I suggest for walls. If you want to find out why, check out the previous link.
THE 3 BEST ‘VERY’ WARM WHITES
Remember, the BASE color in the most popular warm whites is YELLOW, so be prepared if you have south or west-facing sunshine – things are gonna get TOASTY!
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS DOVER WHITE SW 6385
While Dover White is the BANE of my existence regarding cabinets and trims, it makes for a darn pretty wall color! With its LRV of 83, Dover White is a soft white, like Alabaster, but upon comparing the two, you’ll see that Dover White has a lot more yellow/cream.
This next kitchen is a BEFORE photo. My client has brighter white cabinets with Dover White trim – notice the shift between a real white and the yellow hue of Dover White…
I eagerly away the ‘after’ photos!
As for this next kitchen, Dover White does look best when it’s the only and brightest white in the space…
Why is Dover White challenging on cabinets & trims?
The degree of yellow in it makes it TROUBLESOME when trying to coordinate wall colors, countertops, and backsplashes. Many of these finishes (counters, in particular) don’t cater to yellow undertones. And heaven forbid you partner it with a white subway tile backsplash – WOOF! BUT AGAIN, it can be quite pretty on walls!
In this next room, look at the white trim compared to the Dover White walls. This shows you that bit of yellow you can expect in a moderately lit space…
2. SHERWIN WILLIAMS WHITETAIL 7013
Whitetail could be a great choice if you want a BRIGHTER warm white, not a SOFT one. Whitetail has a slightly higher LRV than Greek Villa, coming in at 86, and also has a more noticeable shade of yellow popping up.
This next home was previously a HOT MESS of undertones and WAY too much yellow…
However, the yellow siding was STAYING for the long term and needed to be accommodated. For this reason, Whitetail is a GREAT choice for the trim and garage door, whereas it would likely be too yellow for the average home…
3. SHERWIN WILLIAMS CREAMY 7012
Creamy is a beauty, sitting SMACK DAB between the white and the off-white range (LRV 81). If you want a warm white with a bit more meat on its bones but without an OBNOXIOUS amount of yellow, Creamy is HANDS-DOWN, my favorite option.
This next photo eludes to my previous coffee-induced ramble about white paint colors and exposures…
On the far right, Creamy is getting southwest-facing light on a slightly overcast day. This southwest light lets Creamy keep some of its warmth, but the lack of actual SUN has it looking a bit more muted. To the far left, Creamy is getting northeast-facing light.
On the far left, the AMOUNT of natural light hitting the walls is totally washing Creamy out (which will happen with any light color), but there’s also a change in HUE on the walls, as Creamy takes up a slightly cooler cast.
In this next photo, Creamy is on the walls; Benjamin Moore Cloud White is on the TV cabinet. Notice how Creamy has more visible warmth than in the previous photo…
Get your PEEL & STICK SAMPLE OF CREAMY HERE
And that’s it! Hopefully, you found the warm white you’ve been looking for. If not, keep on reading; I’ve got more!
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ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2022, UPDATED IN 2023