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For many, plain white walls conjure thoughts of rental apartments, bland spaces, or primed canvases waiting for color. But the right white paint can be transformative—highlighting art, enhancing woodwork, reflecting light, setting the stage for a calm oasis, or providing a clean backdrop for statement-making décor. The trick is finding the right hue.
White paint is almost never just white. Look at any paint deck and you’ll see dozens of shades that, individually, might be described as white, but when seen together are actually white with a hint of blue, chalky white, warm white, and the like. It can be truly maddening to pick just one.
Fortunately, in most rooms you’d be wise to employ more than one shade. A crisp, true white (often in a gloss finish) is best to highlight molding and trim; use a slightly different shade in an eggshell finish on the walls; and consider a third shade on the ceiling, perhaps in a lacquer finish to really reflect the light or a slightly warmer tint to make the space feel cozy.
Looking for the right white for your space? Let these 16 top designers help with the shades they swear by.
“I find White Dove by Benjamin Moore a very pleasing paint choice if you're looking for white. It has just the right amount of softness and looks good in natural and lamp light.”
“Vicente Wolf Delicate White. It doesn’t have a tint and that’s why I like it.”
Keren Richter, White Arrow
“We use Wimborne White by Farrow and Ball for rooms that need a flattering white with warm undertones. It looks great paired with brass and rich wood flooring.”
“Farrow & Ball’s Pointing because it is a soft white that is wonderful for walls and cabinetry. Farrow & Ball’s New White is a deep creamy white that is perfect to give a room a glow of sunlight. Benjamin Moore’s Snow White has just enough gray in it that it is not glaring white.”
Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative at Farrow & Ball
“I love whites—neutral paint colors, and whites in particular, are able to transform a room in so many different ways. To me, white represents potential—it can either play a central role in a room and bring a sense of brightness to a space, or it can act as a canvas, ready to be layered upon with colorful ideas. I love Wevet, a delicate but extremely versatile white. It has a ‘barely there’ almost translucent feel to it, so it shares its name with the old Dorset term for a spider’s’ web. We call it an ‘easy neutral’ because it’s clean, understated, and incredibly easy to live with. The hint of grey gives it a hushed tone that can be used as a wall color for a neutral contemporary space or on ceilings and woodwork when combined with cooler grey.”
“My favorite shade of white is Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White because it’s not stark, not cream—it’s the perfect white.”
"Super White by Benjamin Moore has been a long time favorite of mine. It is definitely a crisp bright white without yellow or blue undertones, which makes it the perfect tone to brighten up and freshen any room. My old house was painted Super White floor to ceiling and it bounced the light around throughout the day in such a pretty way.”
“My favorite white paint is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. It is the cleanest and most perfect white in my opinion. When used as a trim it is like a crisp highlighter and pairs well with every color. On its own, it’s the white that you imagine in your head as the ideal white.”
Brad Ford, Brad Ford ID
“I love Benjamin Moore Steam. To me it's the perfect white because it's not too bright and it has the just the right amount of warmth.”
Jon Call, Mr. Call Designs
“My favorite shade of white is China White by Benjamin Moore. It's the perfect shade of unglazed bisque porcelain. It works with both warm and cool tones.”
Eric Cohler, Eric Cohler Design
“I have a couple of favorites: China White and Super White, both ready-mixed by Benjamin Moore. China White has a lightly nuanced gray shade which adds depth and dimension especially to walls and ceilings. Super White is a clear, crisp white that won't turn blue or yellow, yet it's not harsh.”
Steve McKenzie, McKenzie Interior Design
“I love Sherwin Williams Shoji White. It has a warmth to it with the slightly taupe undertone that leaves a room not feeling sterile.”
Jenny Dina Kirschner
“When I paint a space (rather than using some sort of wall covering or faux wall finish), I almost always use some shade of white. My favorite white for quite some time now is Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace. I usually explain to clients and friends who need a white paint recommendation that it is the cleanest, most crisp white that has no undertones whatsoever, but still has some warmth. It's not blinding like it's sister color, Super White, and it works well in any type of lighting situation. As an art lover, and an artist at heart, I feel it also makes for the best backdrop for any art.”
“It’s a tie between Decorator White and Simply White from Benjamin Moore! Decorator White is a clean, crisp white for more contemporary interiors and I use Simply White for older houses.”
“Benjamin Moore Simply White has been my favorite for as long as I can remember. And it was their color of the year in 2016. It's a pure, happy, brilliant white. I love to use it to brighten up a room and give it a crisp, clean look. It’s also known to compliment all skin tones nicely—yes, a paint can do that—so you look your best against a backdrop with this shade.”
Sheena Murphy, Sheep + Stone Interiors
“Farrow & Ball, All White. It is bright without feeling stark, it is both warm and cool and it's very flattering on most people's complexions. It works with almost every color and shade out there.”
This post originally ran in October 2017. There's nothing like a fresh coat of white paint to start the new year.
What are your trusted shades of white? Please share them with us below!