WHICH DIFFERENT SHADES OF WHITE SUIT EACH OTHER?
When painting more than one surface white, such as trims, walls, and cabinets, it can be tempting to do ye ole mix n’ match. However, more so than other colors, white is tricky.
It’s easy to make a hot mess of it with white’s varying undertones and depths. This is why, with some exceptions, if you’re painting more than one surface white, you could/should use the same white on both (I’ve written a blog post on this, linked at the end of this one).
Whites have undertones. When painting something white, the goal is usually to have it look, well, white. However, once you partner different shades, one will expose the undertones in another. So, while the SAME WHITE on walls and trims can look more or less white, if you put a brighter white on your trim only, your walls might look CREAM in comparison.
You ask a lot of questions – I like that about you. Sometimes, a white paint color’s actual depth and undertones are only noticeable upon comparison to a DIFFERENT white. The less difference there is in LRV between the two shades (which we’ll talk more about below), the lower this effect is, but you still need to be careful.
Now, some people WANT this look, which is why I wrote this blog post. However, not everyone realizes what happens when you partner different shades of white together. If you want BOTH shades to look white, I highly suggest using the same color on ALL surfaces.
And yes, I love using ALL CAPS as I talk with emphasis in real life too.
Let the shift in sheen between surfaces do the work for you.
ALL of these white surfaces are White Dove
Before we dive in, did you know that there are 5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF WHITE? That’s right, five. Not all go well together, so when partnering up whites with each other, here are some tips and guidelines…
- For a noticeable difference between your shades of white, aim for approximately 3+ LRV points between the two. Any less, and I wouldn’t bother. If you don’t know what LRV is, get ready to have your brain explode with excitement and awe after reading this.
- Pay attention to undertones. In particular, don’t partner a cool white with a warm white.
- TRUE whites are the most versatile – especially Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, although Sherwin Williams Extra White does the job here and there, as does High Reflective White.
And most importantly…
The brighter white, the one with the higher LRV, should ALWAYS be on the trim (or cabinets). The darker shade of white needs to be the wall color.
Are there exceptions? Nope, not really, unless you want your cabinets or trims to look dingy or yellow compared to your walls. Check out this next photo as a GREAT example…
1. SHERWIN WILLIAMS EXTRA WHITE & ALABASTER
Oh, these two are in a PASSIONATE love affair. But there’s one very important detail in their relationship…Extra White MUST be the trim/cabinet color; Alabaster must be the wall color. You can’t reverse this, or you’ll end up with yellow trim/cabinets against your Extra White walls.
Extra White and Alabaster go together because, while Extra White as a wall color can be cool, as a trim or cabinet color (thanks to the formulation of these paints), it leans a tiny bit warm. This bit of warmth has it coordinating with Alabaster and its soft creamy white warmth quite well.
In the above photo, notice how beautifully warm the walls look. This happens when you partner a warm white like Alabaster with a BRIGHTER white like Extra White. If you love Alabaster but don’t want it looking this creamy, it’s best to use it on the trims, doors, and walls as if it’s not being directly compared to a brighter white – it will act more like white.
Alabaster has an LRV of 82, so it’s on the very low end of the LRV range for the white group. Extra White has an LRV of 86, so you’ve got a nice 4-point spread there.
2. BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE & OXFORD WHITE
This is another example of whites that go together. White Dove is a soft, warm white – not as creamy as Alabaster, but still a gentler approach than the brighter whites. Oxford White isn’t as soft as the usual bunch, but it doesn’t quite hit the bright end either, thanks to its LRV of 86. This offers a subtle shift from White Dove’s LRV of 83.
Oxford White does a good job of not overexposing White Dove’s warmth, and more so than the previous combo, the overall palette still reads like two (soft) shades of white. However, this can change a bit depending on the lighting (or lack of)…
I rely on my Online Color Consulting clients for their photos (AND LOVE THEM FOR DOING SO!), so I don’t always have the clearest or largest photos to work with. All the same, the above staircase shows White Dove leaning more into its creamy roots against the brighter Oxford White trim and railing.
This next photo gives a larger, decent shot of the White Dove and Oxford White palette in action…
3. BENJAMIN MOORE CHANTILLY LACE & SHERWIN WILLIAMS GREEK VILLA
Chantilly Lace is amazing and goes with a WIDE range of whites. In this example, Chantilly Lace is on the trim and built-ins; Greek Villa is on the walls…
To say I’m obsessed with the above living room would be an understatement. My client did so well with her furnishings and home decor – the accent colors are on point, and so are her colors!
Notice how warm and soft the Greek Villa walls look compared to the brighter white of the Chantilly Lace built-ins – Greek Villa ALMOST looks like a subtle shade of cream! This is that contrast I’m talking about, whereas one white will expose the warmth and undertones in another. Greek Villa has an LRV of 86 to Chantilly Lace’s 90, so there’s a decent spread there.
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4. BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE & SIMPLY WHITE
White Dove and Simply White can be gorgeous in a palette together, AS LONG AS Simply White is on the trim and cabinets and White Dove is on the walls. Again, the white with the higher LRV needs to be on trims/cabinets, or the flow will be off.
White Dove walls AND trim (Simply White isn’t shown here)
Simply White is a brighter shade of white with a yellow undertone. White Dove is a softer white with a yellow-creamy undertone. And while Simply White is a bit cleaner, it’s a pretty partner for White Dove walls to butt up to.
I don’t have this combo in action, but once you’re done reading this blog post – check out Harper House, where you’ll see these whites in action!
But finish this blog post first – there’s more good stuff to read!
To FULLY support other creators, I don’t ‘borrow’ their images and put them on my site with credit. Instead, I’m not showing you anything, as I want you to check her magic out yourself!
WHAT’S THE ONE BEST WHITE TO GO WITH OTHER SHADES?
If you’re attempting a self-made combo, don’t go all willy-nilly, or you could have a hot mess on your hands. Start with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace or Sherwin Williams Extra White as the white for your trims or cabinets. Then, find a white wall color with an LRV 3+ points lower than Chantilly Lace/Extra White (ideally). While there are other white-on-white palettes you can explore, you better cross your fingers they don’t clash!
Chantilly Lace is a classic beauty.
DO THESE WHITE PAINT COLORS GO TOGETHER?
If you’re wondering if other white colors suit each other in a palette, I’ve got a few combos to scare you off…
DO SHERWIN WILLIAMS PURE WHITE & BENJAMIN MOORE WHITE DOVE SUIT EACH OTHER
HECK no, these two shades don’t go together. First, their LRVs are too similar (Pure White is 84, White Dove is 83), so there’s no REAL shift in depth. Second, White Dove is warmer than Pure White, and in comparison, it can make Pure White look dingy/dirty, and White Dove can look too yellow.
DO SHERWIN WILLIAMS ALABASTER & SHERWIN WILLIAMS PURE WHITE GO TOGETHER?
Sadly, these two don’t go together as Pure White doesn’t have enough yellow (warmth) to handle the creamy softness of Alabaster. This can make Alabaster look overly yellow, and Pure White look more chalky in comparison. Check out my previous good partnerships for a white that looks good with Alabaster.
Now, I’m sure I’ll get comments about this white vs. that white. Here’s the thing: I happily give away TONS of free info in my blog. If that’s not enough for your needs, please consider hiring me via my Online Color Consulting!
And here’s that as-promised blog post on matching whites…
LET ME CHOOSE YOUR COLORS FOR YOU!
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