The Perfect White

Choosing paint colors can be a daunting task. We often feel pressure to come up with a fabulous color for our walls, overlooking “plain white” in favor of something more creative or with more perceived flair. But good-old-white, the default setting for ceilings and windowsills everywhere, is definitely having a moment. Designers love it for its versatility, its ability to reflect a spectrum of undertones, and for the clean palette it presents. White paint can be subtle, or it can be its own big story—and, done well, it’s never boring. Here, we asked local designers and interiors specialists to share their tried and true “perfect whites.”

PerfectWhite2For my go-to white paint, I use Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (OC-17). Spotswood Lodge [the farmhouse/cottage rental that is owned and operated by our business, The Market at Grelen] is covered in it, and I used it on both walls and trim when we renovated. I like it because even when you use the same color on both the walls and the trim, if you use a gloss finish on the trim and a flat finish on the walls, you get a subtle shade difference—which looks really fresh and nice.

Leslie Gregg, The Market at Grelen

PerfectWhite3Interiors by Moyanne is proud to now carry Farrow and Ball paints. These colors are tried and true as Farrow and Ball is the oldest paint company in the world. They come in a variety of finishes including my favorite two—“Modern Emulsion,” a satin, and “Estate Eggshell,” a semi-gloss. Using these two finishes together in the same color gives you that tone-on-tone look.

Farrow and Ball paints have amazing texture, come premixed, and contain more titanium dioxide (more pigment) than most American paints, giving customers better wall coverage and refraction of light. This paint also has one of the lowest VOCs (volatile organic compounds) available.

One of the best things about Farrow and Ball is that it goes a bit further because of its composition. It works amazingly well and is easier to use than chalk paint on furniture.

As far as whites, Farrow and Ball “All White” and “Wevet” have a nice soft finish, but my personal favorite is “Strong White,” which has a hint of gray. 

Moyanne HardingInteriors by Moyanne

PerfectWhite4One of my favorite whites is Benjamin Moore Winds-Breath (OC-24), a warm white with a slightly taupe/gray tint that looks great with slate and stone. For trim, I really like to use Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (OC-17)—a very popular trim color.

Another warm white I use for ceilings and trim is Sebring White (OC-137). I’ve used Classic Gray (OC-23) on the walls with it. It’s amazing how warm and lovely these off-white colors are. 

However, there are so many beautiful whites to coordinate with wall colors, that I don’t limit myself to just one or two. It depends on whether the wall color is a warm tone or cool tone. I use the Benjamin Moore off-white colors deck and match the best white to the wall paint color. A really nice look is to use the same color on walls, trim and ceiling, but use flat paint on the ceiling, gloss on the trim, and matte on the walls. 

One look at the Ben Moore off-white color deck and you will see the myriad of whites available. And don’t forget Sherwin Williams! So many painters use Benjamin Moore, but Sherwin Williams has some lovely whites. Summer White (SW 7557), Honied White (SW 7106), White Heron (SW 7627) and Snowbound, a bright white, (SW 7004) come to mind.

Sheilah Michaels, Sheilah Michaels Design Studio

PerfectWhite5I generally prefer to use shades of white or off-white, in a semi-gloss finish, on trim. And I typically prefer them in a flat finish on walls. I am a fan of several of Benjamin Moore’s white and ivory paint colors.

The Benjamin Moore color Mayonnaise (OC-85) is a lovely, warm creamy color that never turns beige or gray. It is particularly beautiful used in semi-gloss on trim next to walls of yellow, green or blue.

For 20 years, I have been a big fan of Benjamin Moore’s interior ready-mixed shades, Linen White and Navajo White. Linen White is a very subtle, barely off-white, and Navajo White is an off-white with undertones of beige. Both are classics!

For clients who prefer white trim, I like Benjamin Moore’s Simply White (OC-117). It is a lovely white, which never turns harsh.

Michelle Willis Adams, Residential and Contract Interior Design, LLC

My go-to paint store is Sherwin Williams. The guys at my local store are fantastic and always helpful. 

For a crisp, clean white, I turn to Pure White (SW 7005). The proof is in the name … Pure White! This is a great color for trims and doors in a semi-gloss or gloss. 

When using white on the wall, I use Ethereal White (SW 6182) or Grayish (SW 6001). Ethereal White has a high light reflection value, which measures the amount of usable and visual light that reflects or absorbs into a painted surface—so it feels like a brighter white. It’s ideal for basements or rooms without many windows. Grayish borders on many colors—cream, beige, gray and white. This is an ideal color for those who are maybe a bit scared of color but do not want a true beige or gray. 

Depending on the walls or project, I usually go with an eggshell finish. It’s smooth to the touch and has a bit of dimension and an extremely subtle sheen. 

Will Chambers, U-Fab

PerfectWhite6White is truly a color; white isn’t just simply white anymore! But whites can be tricky; so many of them have an undertone, and if the paint is not mixed correctly, the end result may not be what you were looking for.

I LOVE layering white in a room. White really does need more white! On the walls, ceiling and floors, it is important to layer the room with more touches of white through accessories, mirrors, upholstery, lighting and furniture then add splashes of color through pillows, lamps, throws, and even the warmth of rich woods. I also love using gold in a white room. And whites should definitely be used in rooms with lots of light.

I love to use white on architectural features, moldings and textured ceilings. Normally a flat finish is preferable on ceilings—imperfections do not stand out as much—but a ceiling with a great design like coffers, trays or even something as simple as beadboard or planks of wood definitely calls for a semi-gloss finish. And semi-gloss should always be used on trim; I prefer the oil-base option for this application.

As far as specific whites, you can never go wrong with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (OC-17). It is a very soft, warm white with just a hint of gray. I also love doing a fifty-fifty mix of two whites—White Dove and Decorators White. It truly makes a lovely, splendid creamy white.

Wendi Smith, Leftover Luxuries

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