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the best white paint colors
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 

i live across the street from a paint store. convenient considering my job, yes? i'm there at least twice a week. they even have a table and set of upholstered chairs near the paint swatches and wallpaper books that i like to refer to as my second office. anyway...i was sitting in my second office a few weeks ago waiting for my my paints to be mixed and heard the following conversation.

paint store guy: can i help you?

confused homeowner: my designer told me to come pick up a gallon of the white paint we're using. it's benjamin moore white.

psg.: do you know the formula or full name of the color?

ch.: it's benjamin moore's white.

psg.: was it just plain untinted white base?

ch.: no, because i remember we had to have it mixed one time. but it's just their white. whatever that is. benjamin moore white.

psg: benjamin moore makes over 150 different shades of white. unless it's the untinted white out of the can, i can't guarantee that what i'll give you will match what you have.

ch: it's just plain old white! how are there so many white paints? that's insane.

it is insane! 150+ whites?!?! how are there that many subtle variations of one simple color?

above are just a few of benjamin moore's various whites. next to each other it's easy to see the subtle color variations. most of them don't even look white here. it's almost an array of pastels. however, separated from the pack and paired to saturated color, you'll see them as white. but they react differently depending on what they're paired with and the natural light in a space. all this to say, this is more complex color than most people give it credit for.

so how do you even start choosing the right shade? don't be intimated! after lots of experimentation, we're here to present you with our tried and true favorite whites. not beiges or creams but white! the ones we return to over and over. the ones that never let us down.

1. simply white OC-117- without a doubt our #1 go-to color. not just among whites, but out of all hues. simply white is a true white that looks great as a trim or ceiling color and is awesome on walls, pure and modern without any icy blue undertones. it has that hint of olive green in the undertones that keeps it homey and cozy. 

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2. moonlight white OC-125- a great white for more traditional homes where you may want the clean fresh feel of white walls, without it skewing modern. on the paint deck, this is actually a shade darker than simply white so it shares it natural green undertones. if you want the look of white walls and white trim, but would like a little variation in shade, pair moonlight white with simply white. 

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3. cloud white OC-130- another pure warm white. the image below is a great example of how much white can change in natural light. closer to the light source, it looks clean and pure while across the room the subtle shadows and warm taupe undertones really come out.

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4. white dove OC-17- a rival to the awesomeness of simply white, white dove has been rising in the ranks as it has grey undertones that make it friendly to all the grey neutrals happening in interiors lately.

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5. super white 02- the whitest of the whites. this is the choice for the modernist. great in minimal contemporary spaces, it looks best with lots of natural light as it's lack of colored undertones can feel flat in shadowy spaces. 

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as you can see, white is anything but easy...and anything but boring. it's a classic choice and with a little knowledge and a little experimentation, you can find the right white for your place. happy painting!

Comments • 6 • Trackbacks (0) • Permalink

6 Responses to "the best white paint colors"

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
i know! it's so confusing. we chose a color the other day and looked at the name... 'grey.' just plain old grey. well, that was easy.

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
GREAT INFO! Thanks so much. My SIL is painting her kitchen grey and asked about a white for her cabinets. Dove White it is!

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
That conversation is so funny--and Benjamin Moore DOES make a mixed paint just called white--I just specified it for a client's bathroom ceiling and had a similar conversation with the contractor!

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
Great post--funny story too! Thanks for sharing your go-to's! I'm a kitchen designer, and Simply White & Dove White are my number one choices for painted cabinetry--they're almost foolproof.

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
Thank you so much for posting this. I have been searching for two months about which white to choose as my wall color. I have decided on Simply White, do you have any suggestions for the ceiling and trim color or should a paint it all the same color in different finishes? Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you.

10-Sep-2012 10:13 PM
hey patti! i have simply white all over my house, and i love to use a satin finish on trim and flat on my old, creaky walls. i keep the ceiling the same as well. hope that helps! courtney

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about kelly+olive


Lauren Paradise and Courtney Davis started their decorating careers at age 14, when they painted a perfectly lovely bathroom an ungodly shade of orange. They then proceeded to get degrees in theatre, but design and creativity was never far away. As they skipped from apartment to apartment as actors in the Windy City, they developed not only their collective color sense, but noses for bargains and an obsession with crafting and decorating blogs. Working together came naturally, and soon kelly + olive was born. Lauren and Courtney reside in Chicago, designing and redesigning for customers around the world.

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