Designer Secrets: 10 Pros Share Their Favorite White Paints
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. Ten designers shared the white paints they count on and why.
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.Find an interior designer 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.See more of this office
White Wisp byBenjamin 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
In this dining room, the paint works wonderfully with the bright Texas light and the different browns and tans in the reclaimed wood.
Pointing byFarrow & Ball
“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.
See the rest of this home
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 MooreSee more of this room
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.See more of this house
Super White by Benjamin Moore
“I love Benjamin Moore Super White. It’s a really clean, crisp white that adds a nice contrast even against other whites,” interior designer Shannon Ggem
says. Here she used it on the cabinets and trimwork in an elegant master bathroom.See more of this home
Pure White bySherwin-Williams
“I love Sherwin Williams because they are very user-friendly and they provide large swatches to designers — not all companies do that,” Harmony Weihs of Design Harmony
says. One of her go-to whites is the company’s Pure White.
She used it on these cabinets in this kitchen. “I love this white because it’s on the brighter side for a white while still being warm, which works great for all of our gray Pacific Northwest days,” she says.
Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore
When she’s going for minimalist style in a design, Chantilly Lace is a no-brainer for interior designer Genna Margolis
. “It reads cool and it’s clean, crisp and simple,” she says. “Sometimes when people are fearful to go too white, they wind up choosing something with a yellow undertone, and it winds up reading yellow, making the room look more rustic.”The paint was the right choice for the peaceful, minimalistic look of this yoga studio Margolis designed.
Designer Secrets: 10 Pros Share Their Favorite Off-White Paints
Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore
“One of my favorite whites is Swiss Coffee,” interior designer Julie China of Idea Space Architecture + Design
says. “It’s a warm white that doesn’t go too yellow or almond — it is a nice crisp white with warm undertones.”
China chose the hue for the trim work throughout this 1920s home, seen here in the crown molding. “Swiss Coffee was a good choice for this 1920s house due to the warmer color palette and existing chestnut moldings on the first floor,” she says.
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