The Perfect Shade of White

Photo by Jonatan Pie

Photo by Jonatan Pie

This little arctic fox can teach us so much about the power of adaptation. Not only can it survive frigid temperatures as low as –58°F, but it has a beautiful white coat that allows it to camouflage in the ice and snow. As proven by this fascinating creature, the color white is rich and multi-layered, with subtle nuances not immediately apparent to the eye. Inspired by my new-found winter friend, I have decided to write a blog post about the color white.

Have you ever walked into a paint store to be confronted with a hundred shades of white (at least) and scratched your head in absolute confusion? You are not alone. One of the most daunting experiences in the realm of paint color, is choosing the perfect shade of white. Well, I am here to help you ease that confusion and provide you with a few tips to select a white that is just right for you.

Tip #1

Decide on a mood for your space. Surprisingly, deciding on a specific mood for your space will help determine the type of white for your walls. For example, if you want to create a warm, uplifting mood in your space, consider a warm white (with a yellow or pink undertone). If you are looking to convey a soothing sense of calm, then a cool white (with a blue or green undertone) might be the right choice. One of my favorite warm whites is Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130, soft and slightly creamy, brightening up any space. Of the cool whites, I simply adore Benjamin Moore White Ice OC-58.

Walls in Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130 Design by Natura Interior Design

Walls in Benjamin Moore Cloud White OC-130
Design by Natura Interior Design

Walls in Benjamin Moore White Ice OC-58 Design by Natura Interior Design

Walls in Benjamin Moore White Ice OC-58
Design by Natura Interior Design


Tip #2

Compare at least three white paint samples side-by-side. Order large paint swatches from any paint manufacturer or choose medium-large paint chips at a paint store and view at least three samples next to each other. This will help you determine their undertone and see if it aligns with the mood you have chosen for your space. An undertone is the predominant color underlying any color, and this can be categorized generally as warm or cool. (Red/pink and yellow = warm, blue and green = cool.)


Tip #3

Test paint samples in your space and view them at different times of the day. The lighting in the paint store is completely different from the lighting in your home, so be sure to observe your paint samples in your actual space. I usually tape my swatches or paint 10x10 in. (approx.) squares side-by-side directly on the wall, and leave them up for a few days to observe them in different lighting conditions. You can buy small paint samples at any paint store.

Image: Rooms For Rent

Image: Rooms For Rent

Tip #4

Choose a brighter, more neutral shade of white on your ceiling, to create a sense of spaciousness. A neutral white means a purer white or more grayish, basically neither warm or cool. Lighter ceilings will emphasize height, and light will bounce off to increase luminosity in the space. Compare swatches of ceiling whites alongside your preferred wall whites to see how they work together. A couple of my favorite ceiling whites are Super White OC-52 and Decorators White CC-20, both bright and clean, without being sterile.

Image: The Grove Byron Bay

Image: The Grove Byron Bay

Tip #5

Select a contrasting white for your trim. White on trim works beautifully when it contrasts with the wall paint in terms of undertone and finish. For example, if you have chosen a warm white in a flat finish for your walls, then a cooler white in semi-gloss finish would work nicely for your trim. Or if you have a cooler, bright white on your walls, you might want to try a darker, grayish white for your trim. I absolutely love Chantilly Lace OC-65 for a bright, pure white on trim, with a satin finish.

Image: Square Footage Inc.

Image: Square Footage Inc.

I hope this post has helped you on your journey to finding the perfect shade of white. Be sure to sign up for my monthly lookbook for design inspiration and tips! 😊



Need design help? Get our monthly tips delivered to your inbox!

* indicates required