WALLS, CABINETS, TRIMS: THESE POPULAR WHITES HAVE YOU COVERED
If you’ve been looking for that perfect white paint colour for your walls, trims or kitchen cabinets, I’m sure you’ll agree when I say that white is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re not at that point yet, once you have 20 different shades of white slapped on your walls, are elbow-deep in a wine bottle and are ready to toss said bottle at the wall, I’m sure you’ll jump on board the crazy train!
So, I’m here to de-mystify whites for you. That doesn’t mean you’ll know exactly which white is best for your room and its particular needs (reading this can help), but it will help you figure out which whites you DON’T want based on their undertones.
Above all else, here’s the most important thing to know – white is THE most reflective colour. What does this mean to you? It means that white LOVES to mess with you. It will take colours from its surroundings and flash them on the walls – giving you a colour that you maaaaybe hadn’t bargained on, for example:
- if you have a lot of green/trees/grass outside your window, one or more of your walls might look slightly green
- with northern exposure, your walls might look more gray-blue toned
- If you have southern exposure, your walls might look softer and warmer, even creamy
- furniture that’s a particular ‘colour’ (ie: red/blue/green/etc…) can reflect onto your walls
- warm-toned bulbs will make your white will look warmer (picking the best KELVINS for your paint colour)
And THEN it will all change at night when the sun goes down. Really? Yup, and the ONLY thing you can do is make the best-educated decision you can based on what you learn here.
So, I’ve chosen sample blobs (super technical term) to give you a general idea of what you can expect to see. Remember, these are just computerized blobs, so don’t get yer’ knickers in a knot if a colour looks too colourful/yellow/gray/blue/etc…instead, hop into your local Benjamin Moore store to see the samples in REAL-life.
1. BENJAMIN MOORE SUPER WHITE OC-152
LRV 89.09 (learn more)
Super White is very subtly cool white. But even with this slightly cool vibe, the overall look is simple, clean and great for modern spaces.
Above, BM Super White. Below, BM White OC-151
THE BEST ROOMS FOR SUPER WHITE
- If you have a south-facing light, Super White is a great way to balance the warm light without tipping TOO yellow (as it will pick up some of the sun’s warmth).
- Rooms with warm western afternoon sunshine also suit the slightly cool approach of Super White, just make sure you like how it looks in the morning hours too!
WHERE NOT TO USE SUPER WHITE
- If you want a stark bright white. The slightly lower LRV of Super White makes it softer than some others, but the cool tone helps it look white and crisp, but there are BRIGHTER whites.
- With any surface or finish even REMOTELY related to a warm Tuscan style.
2. BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE OC-17
LRV 83.16 (PREVIOUSLY 85.38) (learn more)
White Dove is a soft, warm white paint colour. It has a warm creamy yellow undertone that’s WELL grounded with a neutral base to calm it down. While some don’t love the bit of yellow in White Dove, most find it acts like a passive warmth, not an actual ‘colour’.
White Dove accommodates many different paint colours because while it’s a warm white, it has a slight neutral base bringing the warmth down. It doesn’t come off as creamy and warm as Cloud White, but also isn’t as clean as Chantilly Lace (both coming shortly). White Dove is a soft white, so it won’t act like white, but a softer warmer version of it.
THE BEST ROOMS FOR WHITE DOVE
- No matter what your exposure is, White Dove is a great option, knowing that it WILL look a bit warmer in southern light and flatter in northern light (as will any warm white).
- It’s a starting place for homes with warmer cream, beige or tan finishes (meaning you wouldn’t want a WHITER white).
WHERE NOT TO USE WHITE DOVE
White Dove only acts like a TRUE white when it’s not compared to a LEGIT bright white and is in the right lighting conditions.
3. BENJAMIN MOORE SIMPLY WHITE OC-117
LRV: 89.52 (PREVIOUSLY) 91.7 (learn more)
Simply White has a yellow undertone, making it a warm white paint colour. This undertone can be subtle at times, acting more like a true white, but partner it with a cool tone and it can show up a bit more to the party.
Simply White is a great, slightly fresh, warm approach to white. Its yellow undertone is noticeable, but isn’t always obnoxious – adding a touch of life, without too much ‘colour’. It’s a popular choice for kitchen cabinets if you want a bright white, but not stark look, but is touch-and-go with marble because of the yellow in it. Simply White can act like white (in the absence of a ‘real’ white), but watch out for its warmth if you aren’t a fan of yellow-whites.
THE BEST ROOMS FOR SIMPLY WHITE
I rarely refer to Simply White in my Online Paint Colour Consulting. Why? Because I can usually get the job done BETTER with Chantilly Lace, Cloud White or White Dove. Why? Because the yellow in Simply White is that BIT more noticeable.
But, this doesn’t mean Simply White isn’t the best white for you and YOUR home. If you’re looking for a BRIGHT white, not a soft white and have northern light, it can be a fabulous choice!
WHERE TO AVOID USING SIMPLY WHITE
- If your walls are a stronger blue, green or violet.
- It’s okay with grays with those undertones, but not always great with more crisp, clean cool colours – UNLESS you love the play of that warm/cool contrast.
- I’m also hesitant in south-facing rooms as the warmth of the southern light can really jack up the yellow in Simply White.
Shown here with Benjamin Moore Collingwood
4. BENJAMIN MOORE CHANTILLY LACE OC-65
LRV 90.04 (PREVIOUSLY 92.2) (learn more)
Chantilly Lace is a lovely white that’s one of the WHITEST white paint colours (it’s only beaten by two others!). It has no noticeable undertone, making it neither warm nor cool, which also means it’s SUPER susceptible to responding to the colours in its environment.
Chantilly Lace is a simple, clean choice if you’re looking to use white. It can be a bit chilly for a north-facing room as it will reflect some of that cool gray-blue look, however, in a south-facing room, it can have a beautiful soft warmth to it. It’s often referred to as the best ‘whitest white’ paint colour.
Chantilly Lace is a great white for a super hot sun like you’d find in Hawaii as the sun will warm up your white considerably!
If your trim and baseboards ‘seem’ to be white (but you don’t know what colour they actually are) Chantilly Lace might be a good match. There’s also Benjamin Moore White OC 151 which is just slightly grayed-out compared to Super White, but still pretty damn white.
THE BEST ROOMS FOR CHANTILLY LACE
- Rooms where you want a fresh white paint colour that acts like white without being icy cold (although it could look this way in cold northern exposure).
- It’s HUGELY flexible with a WIDE variety of paint colours, so if you have rooms in multiple colours, this could be your white paint colour.
WHEN TO AVOID CHANTILLY LACE
- If you’re looking for a soft warm white, this isn’t it, unless you look at it in the late afternoon in western sunshine.
Click HERE or on the above image to see your available packages!
5. BENJAMIN MOORE ATRIUM WHITE OC-145
LRV 87.04 (learn more)
If you’re looking for a white paint colour with a pink undertone, this will be one of your BEST shots at it. Atrium White isn’t one of the more popular white paint colours and this is BECAUSE of its undertone. Because of the TYPE of pink it has, Atrium White is a slightly WARM white, not a cold one.
Atrium White is the ‘prettiest’ of the bunch with its weeee willy wink o’ pink! Atrium White will generally act like white in the absence of a real white, but watch out, if you have yellow or green tones in the room it can activate the pink – and not in a good way!
THE BEST ROOMS FOR ATRIUM WHITE
Personally, I’ve only recommended Atrium White one time (in over 7000 consults). Pink is a hard undertone to accommodate when it comes time to outfit your home in hard and soft finishes, as well as coordinate with other paint colours.
Long story short, the BEST room for Atrium White is…
- a room that already has finishes with pink undertones
- for someone who LOVES pink undertones
WHEN TO AVOID ATRIUM WHITE
All the time. Just joking, kind of, but actually, yes. Unless you NEED a pink undertone or LOVE a pink undertone, don’t do it.
6. BENJAMIN MOORE DECORATORS WHITE
LRV 82.68 (PREVIOUSLY 84.69) (learn more)
Decorator’s White is a popular white paint colour with its subtle undertones of gray and violet (violet-blue), making it a COOL white paint colour.
Decorators White might look like a pretty ‘white-white’, but it’s just a flash on the cool side with a touch of gray and blue-purple undertones. Decorators White will act like white when partnered with cool wall colours, but against ‘white’ you’ll see that shadow in it.
THE BEST ROOMS FOR DECORATORS WHITE
When you want with a subtle cool, but not overly STARK vibe.
WHEN TO AVOID DECORATORS WHITE
With its undertones and lower LRV, I wouldn’t recommend Decorators White for cabinets, trims and doors unless you ALWAYS want to live in the cooler end of things (specifically violet-blue).
SAMPLIZE PEEL & STICK
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 the location
- 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
7. BENJAMIN MOORE CLOUD WHITE OC-130
LRV 85.05 (PREVIOUSLY 87.35) (learn more)
Cloud White is one of the BEST warm white paint colours from Benjamin Moore. With its soft cream (yellow) undertone, Cloud White offers warmth without being ‘colourful’ as it has a neutral base to calm it down.
Cloud White won’t act like white as it has more warmth to it. However, for those wanting a softer approach, it can be a GREAT choice for cabinets, walls, trims and more.
Cloud White on the left, compared to the slightly softer White Dove in the middle
Cloud White is one of my fave whites when I don’t want a typical clean white and crave something more subtle.
In this next photo, compare Cloud White to the white trim – this is a great way to see the creamy warmth in Cloud White compared to a more standard shade of white…
THE BEST ROOMS FOR CLOUD WHITE
- When you want a relatively versatile white that works well with earth tones, warm paint colours and some cool colours.
WHEN TO AVOID CLOUD WHITE
- If you don’t love warm whites.
- If you love CLEAN-looking whites.
8. BENJAMIN MOORE SWISS COFFEE OC-45
LRV 81.91 (PREVIOUSLY 83.93) (learn more)
Swiss Coffee is a popular white paint colour, due in part to Studio McGee using it in their own home – but this doesn’t mean it’s best for YOURS. Swiss Coffee is very comparable to White Dove, not just in LRV, but in a general approach. HOWEVER, the difference between the two is that Swiss Coffee is slightly more likely to pick up a wee tiny touch of green.
THE BEST ROOMS FOR SWISS COFFEE
- Swiss Coffee’s passive warmth makes it a great choice for any exposure, knowing that it WILL look that bit warmer in southern light and flatter in northern light (as will any warm white)
WHERE NOT TO USE SWISS COFFEE
- I would be less inclined to partner Swiss Coffee with finishes that have a pink or taupe undertone, as I would worry about the undertones bouncing off each other a bit
- if I have a choice, I’ll choose White Dove over Swiss Coffee EVERY TIME – I find it more predictable
Not sure which white is best for your home?
Check out my E-design & Online Color Consulting Packages – I’d love to help!
Originally written in 2018, awesomely updated in 2021