I get more questions about white paint color in my images than anything else. Paint is always something people struggle with, especially when it concerns cabinetry and millwork, because it’s such an important decision and one that can’t be “fixed” super easily. This guide is in my new book (along with best Neutrals and Kids Room palettes, too!) but it’s hard to see in print so I thought I’d republish here along with some tips.
When picking a white paint for cabinetry and trim, consider the lighting in your unique space and always, always test on multiple walls. Whites look VASTLY different in various types and directions of lighting so the way it looks in a store is NOT what it will look like in your home. Always paint a sample of the cabinet doors in the exact color and sheen you plan on using (for kitchen cabinets we typically use a satin sheen). Tiny chips will not give you the right information about how it will look. And if you plan on using white subway tile paired with your cabinets, you need to coordinate the two. Keep in mind that no two white subway tiles are exactly the same (the shades vary), so you’ll have to pick one that matches your chosen cabinet finish, or pick a cabinet color to coordinate with your chosen tile.
The cabinets and trim in this kitchen are Ben Moore Chantilly Lace- this is a VERY bright, clean white.
My family room paneling is Ben Moore White Dove, which has a slightly richer undertone. We use this a lot in more traditional homes.
My master suite has Sherwin Williams Extra White on the trim and millwork- I wanted a really bright, crisp white up here against the walls, which are Sherwin Williams Incredible White.
This beach house was done top to bottom in Ben Moore Decorators White, another very crisp, bright white.
My current favorite white for cabinetry and trim is Ben Moore Simply White- it’s not TOO bright, but not too creamy. This is my go-to.
We painted our office Sherwin Williams Greek Villa, which is a slightly creamy white that I really love, especially on brick.
White on white rooms can be great, either with two tones and finishes of white or the same color in two different finishes on walls and trim. In this room the walls are Ben Moore Swiss Coffee, a great ivory color that doesn’t read yellow, and the trim is Ben Moore White Dove in a semi-gloss finish. The subtle change in tone is a rich look.
In this room the whole room is the same color, Ben Moore White Dove, but the walls are eggshell and the trim is semi-gloss. Here, the change is paint finish is what creates contrast instead of changing the tone.
Another kitchen in Ben Moore Simply White.
Please comment with any great white colors you’ve used and loved below- it’s always nice to hear from others what they have found to be beautiful!
Images above by Michael J. Lee and Sarah Winchester.
I live in a home whose design I love, except for the kitchen. The cabinets are dreadful. A deep cream with feathered brush strokes. It just looks dirty. I’m hesitant to paint them as I’ve seen many painted cabinets peel and chip with use. Is there a superior formulation of paint that would keep this from happening? Thank you. Your home is a dream. I love everything about it.
In our previous home I used Decorator’s White – we had 9′ ceilings and lots of natural light and it looked very crisp, a true white. Then I used it in our beach cottage, which only has 7’3″ ceilings and not as much natural light, and the Decorator’s White there shows a lot more grey. I’ve repainted some rooms in BM Simply White, and while it is creamier, you don’t get the gray tone.
I didn’t notice that there are so many shades of white and it brings different feeling. Thank you for the great post!
Thanks Erin for another great post!!! What are your favorite whites for exterior (with black shutters)? Also, what finish do you recommend for exteriors? Thanks!!
Love your blog! I have BM White Dove and Simply White in my home and love them! What are your reccos for exterior white paint jobs? Thank you!
Sherwin Williams Pure White & Sherwin Williams Snowbound are clean whites without a lot of undertone. Have you tried either of these? If so, what do you think of them? THANK YOU for this wonderful post!
Does anyone have any experience matching a white cabinet colour to white appliances? I’m very sure a stark white paint would make my appliances appear a little yellow/grey, so I’m hoping to match them. Any suggestions?
[…] go with when we painted our place, and settled on Benjamin Moore’s Paper White. I bookmarked this post for the future…Erin does a great job breaking down the difference between all the […]
Simply White for the win! I’ve used it time and again in our 1929 home. It works well – day and night – sunny or dreary.
We used Behr Weathered White (HDC-NT-21) all over our 1920s rowhouse (windows only in front and back) – it was light enough to bounce light around, but warm enough not to feel sterile. And different enough from our bright white trim (legitimately just ultra white off the shelf) to make the millwork pop. We rehabbed our home from a former chain smoker (the walls bled tar during our renovation) so we couldn’t emotionally handle any colors with brown undertones. Love how it turned out.
We used BM Horizon on our white kitchen cabinets. It’s a gray but reads as white in our south-facing kitchen. It’s not too bright, compliments both the gray countertops and white tiles and looks great all times of day. We used BM Super White on the walls, window and door trim. So sometimes the best “white” is not a white after all!
I used Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White for my custom mudroom cabinetry. I love it. My mudroom doesn’t get any natural light. In my space it looks like a crisp white, not stark or too creamy.
Used F&B Pointing on all walls, trim & doors in the main living area of my home. We get great light, and there was enough warmth in Pointing to give a soft look to the walls.
We have used Benjamin Moore Super White on trim, bookcases and ceilings for years and still love it! It’s a clean, crisp and bright white that brightens up any space!
I have a traditional colonial to which I’ve added a lot of millwork. I use BM Linen White throughout, on walls and on trim – in different rooms. It is very creamy and warm and I love it. We use BM White Dove on our 1840’s farmhouse on the Chesapeake, on walls and on trim – depending on the room. Both are great IMHO. The trim on my exterior is SW Pure White – a brilliant white, that I love.
We are considering some C2 whites… specifically America’s Cup, Sheer, Architectural White and Coconut. Have you ever worked with C2 Paints? They have some really nice colors! BM White Dove was looking a little green-y to me in our kitchen light. Your pics are all beautiful though!
I live in an old colonial and use BM White Dove on all my interior trim. I don’t have any white walls and my colors lean warm, so it works for my house. It’s the perfect mix of warmth & white. I agree you have to sample in a large space because whites can read so differently.
I live in an older traditional home and like BM Ivory White. It is a creamy warm white .
I had a decorator back in the day whose favorite was Pratt & Lambert Snowflake. I used it at her suggestion and never looked back (I read it’s Victoria Hagen’s favorite, too). Now I’m considering a kitchen renovation and planning to paint my cabinets Snowflake, too — it’s ok to use the same color on both cabinets and trim, right?
I love Simply White, I’ve used it in our bathroom and great room, I want it everywhere now… It is definitely a warm white, that looks bright during the day and creamy at night – taking on the glow from the warm light bulbs.
great post! I am considering getting an existing dresser I have painted white for a nursery and am thinking BM Simply White- do you have a suggestions for what type of finish would look best on a wood dresser?
This is a great guide! However, I recently painted my kitchen cabinets and walls BM Simply White and both my painter and cabinet maker complained about the coverage. They said they had to use several more coats than usual. I think it’s a good white so wondering if anyone else has found that?
My painter said the same thing, and honestly, I’ve had the same issue. I love Simply White but it took several more coats for the proper coverage on my built in bookcases in my family room, which I painted myself. So, I am in the hunt for a similar shade but without the coverage issue for my kitchen. Since the rooms aren’t right next to each other, I am considering SW Alabaster.
I hear that sometimes with painters & decorators. Usually the issue is if they’ve quoted including paint and you want a specific one while they prefer you use their favourite brands because they find the coverage easier and so its more bang for buck for them….and while we can see a million shades of white we come across as pernickety! Its the same as any profession – make-up artists will have their favourites, mechanics too, hell – I even have a favourite gas hob on my stove! I have no idea if the coverage is actually worse, I just assume its preference!
What finish do you use for white walls in corridors and stairways? Ours always seem to show smudges and kids’ finger prints. Thanks
GREAT, GREAT post. Thank you Erin!
We have Ben Moore White Dove throughout our downstairs. It’s perfect for our traditional style house. Creamy but definitely white, not at all yellow or beige.
I have the same question about exteriors. Our house needs an exterior paint job, and I’d like to go with white, but I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities. I’m pinning this post as a starting point. Thank you thank you.
I love Behr’s Nightblooming Jasmine. It’s on your list. It’s a great white with warm undertones.
BM Swiss Coffee did wonders for the interior walls of my 1940s house. Really brightened it up, and worked equally well in rooms with more or less natural light.
SW Alabaster is my go to white.
My traditional New England dining room is small and doesn’t get a ton of light. The walls are textured on the top half with dark wood wainscoting along the bottom. Add hard wood floors to the equation, and the whole thing just left me feeling drab and sad every time I looked in there.
Posts like these are BEYOND helpful! Thank you, Erin! (If you saw a major spike in searches for white paint guide on your blog at the end of last year, that was me haha. I referred back to that post incessantly as I was choosing.)
I decided to paint the walls Sherwin Williams Alabaster and couldn’t be happier. I did the window trim Benjamin Moore Simply White (but left the dark wood wainscoting alone…too nervous to commit to that major change!) and I think the end result is so elegant looking and beautiful. Highly recommend the gorgeous neutral contrast of these two colors together.
I love the post and I have to agree— I went with Swiss Coffee in my family room and it’s perfect — creamy, but not too yellow. And I will be painting our new office builtins and the foyer in BM’s Simply White. This color is so good!!!
Oops, you have the All White in there at the bottom, my bad. Have never seen the Extra White.
This is great, thanks. My favorite white is Farrow and Ball All White. I think you have accidentally called it Extra White in the sample chart.
i LOVE F&B All White – have shipped it half way across the world to use in South Africa, and it works as well here. What’s interesting, having moved from the grey of the UK to the bright sunshine of SA, is how so many other whites don’t travel well. F&B All White is truly a product of wonder – as a friend says, God probably chose it for heaven too!
Just used Sherwin Williams ‘Pure White’ for trim and Benjamin Moore ‘Paper White’ for walls in our home and LOVE the combo. The SW paint makes the grey-ish/blue cool tones in the BM paint really pop but in a subtle way.
Does anyone have a recommendation for an *exterior* white paint color? How do these translate to outside? Thanks!!
I did BM Simply White with BM Chantilly Lace trim both inside AND outside, and it looks lovely. Simply White reads as a white but not too stark. At first I tried SW Greek Villa as my outside color but because my house is very shaded it looked too yellow.
We used BM White Diamond for our Colonial Revival house. We live in New England so we wanted a white that looked good in the snow.
We painted our exterior White Dove and we love it. I was looking for a warmer white that didn’t appear yellow and this fit the bill perfectly.
Most of my house is BM Decorator’s White and I agree, very bright and crisp! I would absolutely choose it again.
Simply White for the win! My home’s (c.1928) exterior and most of the interior walls as well; definitely my favorite white. I did contrast trim in the LR/DR in Grey Owl and it’s so pretty against the Simply White upper walls. I had White Dove in my last home (c.1925) and loved it during the day, but with certain bulbs it read too green in the evening under artificial light. Definitely agree it’s a winner for older, more traditional homes. Looks great during the day and in artificial light at night.