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Designer's Choice: 10 Shades of White and Where You Should Use Them

As if picking out the correct paint color isn’t hard enough, make all of your choices white, but watch out - each shade of white is just a little different! And to make things worse, the decision actually matters. In other words, each slightly different shade of white you choose to paint with will be noticeable, and change the entire look of the room. Sound nightmarish? We think so, which is why we have compiled some designers’ Top 10 choices of white paint, and where/when they recommend using them.

Thanks to the color spectrum, white can appear more blue in tint, more yellow, pink, orange, or grey. And based on your decor and overall style of your home, whether you go with a warmer or cooler shade of white will affect the completed look.

So before you dive into our analysis of white paint colors, ask yourself these questions based around your own style and preferences:

  1. Do I typically decorate with warmer, cozier colors and textures, or do I decorate with cooler, sleek colors and textures?

  2. What undertones do my carpet, floors, rugs and curtains have? (Do your floors have hints of grey shades? Or do they contain more brown/tan shades?)

  3. Do I decorate with warmer metals like gold, copper and brass or do I tend to use cooler metals such as stainless steel, nickel and silver?

With your answers to the above questions in mind, let’s introduce all of our different shades of white:

Cloud Nine, Benjamin Moore

"As a colorist, white is seldom on my mind, but when I need a neutral gallery-esque background, I reach for Cloud Nine by Benjamin Moore. I painted the exterior of my office building in this particular shade and it's the perfect contrast to the gloss black trim." - MA Allen

Benjamin Moore's Cloud Nine contains a grey undertone that would contrast perfectly with glossy black, according to Allen. This paint would better pair with cooler decorations and metals such as stainless steel or nickel. But the grey shade is subtle enough that it would match well with any other dark accent colors. This is definitely a go-to white.

Snow Day, Clare

"Snow Day is the perfect cool white that has just enough warmth to keep it from feeling sterile. This is a great option for a south-facing room or for a bright white to pair with cool colors." - Nicole Gibbons

According to Gibbons, Snow Day is another white you should consider pairing with cooler tones. After Sherwin William's "Pure White" paint, Snow Day is probably the closest thing to "pure white" in these examples. Paired with incorrect decorations and accent colors, Snow Day could feel sterile. Make sure you are juxtaposing it with soft textures and bold colors.

Pure White, Sherwin Williams

"Finding the right white is always a tricky task. However, I’ve found that a successful shade of white is one that’s honest and bears no hidden undertones of blues, yellows or pinks. Pure White by Sherwin Williams is an elegant white, which grounds the space and creates a nice neutral background to allow your furniture to shine." - Eileen Keshishian

Pro Painters is naturally a fan of Sherwin Williams (we probably use their brand the most) so we are impartial to Pure White. But Keshishian makes a good point: Sherwin William's Pure White contains almost no undertones we warned you about - so if you're looking for an easy choice from a respectable company, Pure White may be the perfect option.

White Dove, Benjamin Moore

"Our go-to living room paint color, Benjamin Moore White Dove, is a warm white that perfectly complements the fresh pastel colors of this feminine space, creating a calm and welcoming room for entertaining. We typically opt for the wow color moments in the fabrics and accessories, rather than on the walls, to keep the living room a more transitional space and the formal center of the home."

- Christine Markatos

"White Dove has a creamy undertone that brings a lovely warmth to homes in urban environments or those in climates that often experience grey and overcast skies. Meanwhile, in more traditional settings, White Dove reads as a crisp white without being too cold or modern." - Emily Munroe

"I love to use White Dove by Benjamin Moore. It’s so versatile! Because I focus a lot on art and artists in my work, this color never fights with sculptures, street art or abstracts. My favorite thing to do is apply one coat of Wise Owl's Opalescent Pearl Glaze over the White Dove. It softly shimmers with directional lighting, and the walls 'slow dance' without fighting with the art, fabrics and rugs. It's clean, simple and timeless!" - Karl Whitman

Designers have all good things to say about Benjamin Moore's Dove White, and rightfully so. Its creamy undertone offers versatility in decoration, complementing both warm and cool shades. However according to the designers, its overall tone is on the warmer end of the spectrum which makes it perfect for cozy living rooms and bedrooms, but is still crisp and clean enough for bathrooms or mud rooms!

Simply White, Benjamin Moore

"Benjamin Moore Simply White is always a crowd pleaser. It’s a warm, but true white, that looks both crisp and cozy in every space." - Kristen Peña

“Benjamin Moore Simply White is my go-to for a kitchen. It just feels right–not too cool, not too warm.” - Victoria Hagan “Benjamin Moore Natura Simply White has a slight warm undertone, which keeps it from feeling too sterile (no hospital vibes here). I have yet to come across a color scheme Simply White wouldn’t complement. It also really goes to work in those darker spaces with little to no natural light because the paint color itself simply radiates. Bonus, this is an eco-friendly zero VOC paint for the environmentally conscious!" - Meridith Baer

Feeling redundant yet? We understand why, but the truth is each shade of white is very different, therefore each shade serves a different purpose in various settings! Benjamin Moore's Simply White contains warmer undertones, but is yet another very versatile option for those of you who like both warm and cool shades, and for those who enjoy mixing metals!

Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore

"When I want a really clean, pure white like I used in every room of a Spanish Modern home in Los Angeles, my favorite shade is Benjamin Moore 'Chantilly Lace' OC-65. It has a subtle cool grey base as opposed to warm yellow undertones, which makes for a very clear and beautiful shade of white." - Rosa Beltran

“The most universal paint color I've used is Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. I find myself going back to it again and again in order to create a bright white space that is warm and welcoming rather than sterile and cold. In a sea of whites, this is my tried and true!” - Nicole Davis

"It feels clean and bright without being cold or ‘dormy’." - Melanie Burnstin

We had to include Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace as it is one of the most popular, well-known shades of white among designers, painters, realtors and the like. It has cooler undertones but somehow does not appear sterile or grey. We could especially picture it on a bedroom set - including a fresh, bright bed frame, chest of drawers, and vanity.

Snow Leopard, Portola

"My favorite choice for white is Snow Leopard by Portola. I am always in search of a white color with depth, but without other discernible tints. This color creates a beautiful backdrop for both modern and traditional projects. Best of all, it is truly white when it’s up but creates a beautiful, warm environment." - Kazuko Hoshino

Many of our shades thus far have had grey undertones. Portola's Snow Leopard has quite the opposite - its yellow undertone gives it a more off-white shade, with more warmth and dimension. As shown in the photo above, it works well mixed with darker, sleek decor and plays off of cool tones like grey, despite its yellow undertone.

Navajo White, Benjamin Moore

“Think melted vanilla ice cream. Its cream undertone makes it the perfect white for a country house and warm, naturally-lit spaces. You can do a whole room in Navajo White and it stands alone and gives it a soul.” - Alexandra Champalimaud

We are huge fans of Benjamin Moore's Navajo White, and we especially like the semi-gloss Navajo White the above photo featured on fancy wainscoting. There is no chance of this white coming off as sterile, therefore it is more possible to decorate with lighter tones. We recommend still maintaining soft textures, especially with a more glossy finish.

Honeymilk, Valspar

"Getting white paint right can be a daunting proposition. Your best bet is a kinder, warmer white that has just a hint of grey or beige in it. Honeymilk is a soft white that's great for walls. I've used it in a gazillion rooms and have never been disappointed." - Elaine Griffin

Griffin prefers a warmer white that better pairs with grey or beige shades. She has a point, considering we have seen the color "greige" rise to popularity in the past few months. It is especially smart to choose a white that will complement the other colors you choose throughout your home, and Honeymilk seems to be THE color to pair with either warm or cool colors, it is that versatile and forgiving.

Paper White, Benjamin Moore

"I use Paper White in kitchens and bathrooms because it melds the greys of Carrara marble and the stark white of sinks and toilets." - Katie Ridder

Benjamin Moore's Paper White paint definitely contains cooler tones, but simultaneously resembles a light, almost unsaturated taupe color that easily complements both greys and grey-based browns and tans. It is probably the most modern of every color we've reviewed, and perfect in bathrooms, mudrooms and even other spaces of more modern homes. P.S. we love the mixed metals the photo above incorporated, and how they play off the metallic look of Paper White.

Which shade of white was your favorite, and which would you like to implement for your next project? We'd love to hear about it. Let us know on Instagram!

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