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How To Pick the Right White

Paint is one of the easiest ways to transform a space and to set the tone for how you want it to "feel". A 2021 survey released by Ace Hardware and Benjamin Moore revealed up to nearly one-third of respondents say white is their top pick for almost every major room in their home. But if you’ve ever faced the wall of white paint chips at your local paint store, you know choosing the best one is anything but easy. Help is here.

White is particularly a tough color because it picks up colors and reflects everything around it. We once had a client who complained her white walls had a pink tint and she didn't understand why. Turns out, the sun was reflecting off her neighbor's bright red siding into her space making the white, not so white. If you're thinking about refreshing with paint and you love white (like me) then these steps will help in deciding the right white for your space(s).

Evaluate the Undertones

There’s an easy trick to help you avoid choosing shades that are too creamy or too icy. All you have to do it hold your paint swatch up to a plain piece of printer paper. This will help you determine whether the white swatch you have is a warm white (red, yellow, or orange undertones) or a cool white (blue or gray tones).

Consider Natural Light and Direction

Avoid white paint in a north-facing room or a room without any natural light, such as a small powder room. The lack of natural light may make a cool white appear drab, and a warm white dingy. South-, east-, and west-facing rooms with natural light can go warm, cool or pure white and still look great.

Compare White Paint Options

Before landing on what seems to be the perfect match, consider the feelings a color will evoke and its physiological effects. For example if you choose the purest white, know that it can cause eye strain, and in some cases even headaches. It really can impact your vision and create this illusion of brightness that is really disconcerting to the eye, and won’t be comfortable when you sit in that space for a period of time. Warm whites are the easiest to live with long-term.

Don’t Forget Taupe and Greige

When is a white not white but serves a white purpose? Well, when you actually need a taupe or greige. So if cream is a little too simple, the palest of taupes or grieges can really emulate that same clean, fresh, bright feeling in warmer environments, especially if you have upholstery or surface finishes with warm undertones.

Buy High-Quality Paint

Sometimes, the shade is the least of your worries but rather , the quality. High-quality paint contains more color particles, including white, which will lead to a richer, longer-lasting result. With higher quality paint, it will diminish the number of brushstrokes left behind, making it look like a professional completed it.

Still Stuck?

Below is a list of our go-to's:

Bright Lighting

Benjamin Moore's Decorator's White

Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace

Farrow & Ball's Wevet

Clare's Snow Day

Warm Lighting

Clare's Whipped

Farrow & Ball's Schoolhouse White

Benjamin Moore's Dove White

Portola Paint's Parliament

Neutral Lighting

Benjamin Moore's Simply White

Portola Paint's Antique White

Farrow & Ball's Pointing

We'd love to see what you come up with! Tag us on IG (@lawlessdesign) if you refresh with the right white.

- Raph




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