By Becky Harris, Houzz
You might think all white paints are pretty much the same, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most white paints have an undertone that can skew them cool or warm. The same white paint will look different in different parts of the world, and even at different ends of the house. A paint that pops brightly in San Francisco could look drab in New England, and vice versa.
Designers agree that you should test your paint in large swaths, to view it in different lighting at different times of the day. But that said, they usually have a few go-to shades of white up their sleeves, the ones they know won’t let them down. Six designers shared the white paints they count on and why.
PlaidFox Studio, original photo on Houzz
Simply White by Benjamin Moore
“Simply White is a more modern, clean white,” Ben Leavitt of Fox Design Studio says. “It is a beautiful natural shade that works well with any gray tones.”
In this space, Leavitt chose Simply White for the walls and ceilings, then painted the trim and doors in Thunder by Benjamin Moore for contrast.
Four Point Design Build Inc, original photo on Houzz
Cool December by Dunn-Edwards
“I love Cool December for the way its cool undertone works in the bright California light,” Los Angeles designer Laura Schwartz-Muller of Four Point Design + Construction says. In this portrait photographer’s office, it provides a lovely backdrop for a gallery wall.
Urbanology Designs, original photo on Houzz
White Wisp by Benjamin Moore
“All whites have some undertone. White Wisp has a very slight gray undertone that keeps it from feeling cold or icy,” interior designer Ginger Curtis of Urbanology Designs says.
In this dining room, the paint works wonderfully with the bright Texas light and the different browns and tans in the reclaimed wood.
Lisa Tharp Design, original photo on Houzz
Pointing by Farrow &
“Pointing is a wonderfully classic white with just a hint of warmth. I use it often because it reads as a warm white without veering yellow,” interior designer Lisa Tharp says. “It reminds me of fresh cream in early-morning light.”
Tharp is also careful about designing in a healthy and environmentally conscious way. “I like that Farrow & Ball’s line is comprised of healthier low- or no-VOC formulations, depending on sheen level,” she says.
In this library in Brookline, Massachusetts, she selected Pointing for the millwork because it offers a clean and warm counterpoint to the metallic specialty finishes on the walls and curved ceiling.
Acquire, original photo on Houzz
Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore
“For white trim color, my go-to for years has been Decorator’s White,” interior designer Nikki Dalrymple of Acquire says. “It’s a true bright white that never disappoints. The undertone is so subtle that it never seems to fight with any chosen wall color.”
In this lovely living room, the white on the millwork provides a clean contrast to the creamy tan hue on the walls.
Wall paint: Monroe Bisque, Benjamin Moore
Encircle Design and Build, original photo on Houzz
Imagine .01 by Colorhouse
Health and environmental consciousness is priority No. 1 for Michelle Ruber of Encircle Design and Build. Her favorite white comes from her favorite paint company, Colorhouse. “I was drawn to the company for its environmental benefits — the paint is zero-VOC and has no fumes, which is extremely important for the painters’ health and for the health of people who are living in the house during a remodel, not to mention the health of the planet,” she says. “So you have all that, plus the colors are amazing — every one of them is spot on.”
In this Portland, Oregon, vacation rental that Encircle designed and remodeled, Ruber’s spot-on choice was Colorhouse’s Imagine .01. The white brightens up the walk-out lower level and can hold its own against the city’s many gray days.