A Guide To Selecting The Perfect White Paint

So you want to paint your room white. Great!
It's just that there are about 150,000 shades of white to choose from right now, and that’s just plain torture! How do you know which is the right white? 

Here is a guide to selecting the perfect white.

These are the most popular white and off-white colors at Benjamin Moore.  These are their tried-and-true whites paints, including Simply White, a former Color of the Year at Benjamin Moore.

Most popular Benjamin Moore white paints


What do we know about the color white?

White interpretations in psychology vary; from cleanliness, purity, and simplicity to sophistication and efficiency. It is also thought to aid in mental clarity, encouraging us to be free of clutter. The opposite may be defined as elitism, coldness, and sterility.

Its effects differ culturally as well. Western society sees it as a clean, pristine color, where Asian traditions see it as a color of mourning.

In interior design, white is not an absence of color but a strong, versatile, reflective, affirmative palette. A white-dominated color scheme adds to the sense of space, highlighting shape and form in a room, unlike any other color. It is also a fail-safe color, one of the most popular paint shades on the color spectrum. However, white isn’t just white anymore.

There is off-white, grey-white, warm white, bright white, etc. So now what?

©kanashe - Stock.Adobe.com

Where To Start

You will want to consider which ‘temperature’ you are looking for. Whites have an undertone color to them in warm or cool.

Look at the natural light in your home.
North-facing rooms will feel calmer, so look at warmer whites with red undertones.

©Dmitry Berg - Stock.Adobe.com

South-facing rooms need ‘cooler’ whites to balance the intensity of the strong sunlight. Look at whites with blue undertones.

White luxury bathroom

©slavun – Stock.Adobe.com

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What will you be layering against this white? Artwork, antiques, furnishings like upholstery, and rugs? 
  • Are these items cool or warm tones?
  • What is the feeling you want in the room? Cozy? Modern?

As diverse as any color, white can be taken to great creative lengths and offer many effects in and of itself.

Look at paint colors selected by either painting a 2 x 2’” section on a few walls or using the peel-and-stick options that many paint manufacturers offer. Check these swatches day and night, as artificial light will also affect the color.

I like clean whites with a hint of warmth but still soft and crisp. They seem to go with  everything.

Again, whites come in hundreds of shades from many paint companies, so you may want to narrow the search by the manufacturer.

I like a good coverage paint that goes on creamy, like Benjamin Moore, Dunn Edwards, Farrow and Ball, and Sherwin-Williams being my favorites.

White luxury closet interior by Manow at Adobe Stock

©Manow –Stock.Adobe.com

Then there is the finish. From flat and semi-gloss to high-gloss. The glossier the finish, the more light is reflected in a room, but beware, a  higher gloss paint also shows every bad prep job; protruding nail head and uneven surface.

People send us photos from Pinterest and say, “I love that. Can you do that color? Well, no. Why? Because their home and natural light source are not the same as in the photo, and anything printed in a magazine or on a digital platform has already shifted in color just by the nature of the media. It is always best to select the perfect white starting in your own home, not someone else’s.

Interior of luxury minimalistic bedroom with white walls, concrete floor, master bed with bedside table and potted plant. Bathroom with shower and sink to the left. 3d rendering

©denisismagilov – Stock.Adobe.com


White Scandinavian living room interior

©2mmedia – Stock.Adobe.com

You don’t have to be a designer and a colorist like I am to select a white, but then maybe it’s a good idea to reach out to Lauren Jacobsen Design for a consultation or a color palette. These are large surface planes that are very visually dominant. Call us, we are happy to help you find your perfect shade of white or any other color.

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