The Simple Way to Choose the Right White Paint

Are you ready to throw in your paint towel because you can't seem to figure out which, among the hundreds of shades of white and off-white colours in the paint stores, you should choose for your home? I hear you - it can seem overwhelming. And the many different designer recommendations for white paint colours on the web can make things even more confusing! 

Look, I'm all about simplifying. Everything. That includes shoes, my calendar and paint colour. Ok, maybe not so much my Starbucks drink. 

The Simple Way to Choose the Right White - my hallway is SW Pure White and the trim is untinted white

The Simple Way to Choose the Right White - my hallway is SW Pure White and the trim is untinted white

Yes, I'm a decorator and I have those huge decks of colour chips. But I go to only a few tried and true whites each and every time I choose one for myself or a client. By following a few simple guidelines, it turns out right every time. 

Because let's get real.

Most normal folks like you and me are not going to be able to tell the difference between white, extra white or pure white on your walls. Stop overthinking it. Keep it simple and be done with it. 

PS - I do understand painting is time consuming and you want to get it right. If you really don't feel comfortable choosing a white on your own, hire a designer who can give you the right colour recommendation. I can do this for you with one colour consult over Facetime or Skype. 

Simple guidelines to help you choose the right white paint:

1. If you have a darker space with low natural light, cool white walls can look dingy and shadowy. Choose a warm white instead - it will look like a crisp white on your walls even though it looks creamy on the chip. Or you could lean into the shadows and choose a slightly warm grey or greige that will help brighten the space and make it feel more crisp. I've got you covered on choosing greys too with this post on the best greys

2. If you have a south-facing room with lots of sunlight coming in, opt for a cooler or neutral white that will absorb some of the sunlight. If you use a warm white in this kinds of space, it can end up over-the-top-bright-white. 

3. Paint your trim untinted white - yep that's right - you don't need to fuss over what white to paint your trim 90% of the time - untinted will be a nice crisp white that pops against the wall colour. Note- if you're choosing a neutral crisp white for the walls as well, just paint them all out the same colour (but with semi-gloss on the trim and eggshell on the walls so the trim will stand out and create depth in the room). 

4. If you're worried that painting your whole home white might feel too boring or institutional, vary the whites slightly by choosing two or three different whites in the same family (either cool or warm). 

5. Use a flat finish on the ceiling, eggshell or satin finish on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim and doors (and floors if you paint them white) to provide contrast and depth. 

6. Finally, the best way to know if your paint colour will work is to bring home a sample and paint a big swatch on your walls, then observe it at different times of day. Research can help, but this is truly the best way to know if the white you choose will work for you.

White spaces are known to help us experience restfulness, peace, and joy, and they allow us to create 'white space' mentally and emotionally as well. This helps us slow down and be more mindful, which of course, boosts productivity and effectiveness in everything we do. 

So stop stressing and simplify design for your home. Paint your walls white already and reap the benefits. You can thank me later. I accept chocolate. White chocolate. 

BONUS: If you'd like to take colour in your home a little further than white, I've got a free workbook for you that will help you choose colours to create a naturally serene home and work with your existing finishes like flooring, cabinets and countertops. Grab it here! 

 
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Check out the beautiful white rooms for inspiration below (click photos for sources). 

SW Pure White - Refreshed Designs

SW Pure White - Refreshed Designs

Behr Silver Drop - Kaylee Coles

Behr Silver Drop - Kaylee Coles

BM White Dove on cabinets - via HomeBunch

BM White Dove on cabinets - via HomeBunch

SW Extra White - Rethink Design Studio

SW Extra White - Rethink Design Studio

BM Simply White - Studio McGee

BM Simply White - Studio McGee

SW Alabaster - Traditional Home

SW Alabaster - Traditional Home

Hamptons Style Home
SW Paper White - Nicole Lee Interior Designs
CIL/Dulux Raindrop White - Refreshed Designs

CIL/Dulux Raindrop White - Refreshed Designs

Ready for a little more colour help? Want to go further than white? Download this guide to simplifying colour that works with the existing finishes in your home. 

PS -  if you found this post helpful, Pin it for later and share it with friends! 

 
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the simplest-ever guide to choosing the right white paint

Kelly Anderson

Refreshed Designs

A re-designer focused on natural, sustainable and holistic design.