What seems to be such a simple thing – choosing white for the walls and trim of a room – proved to be one of the hardest parts of our recent remodel. I will admit to having to repaint an entire bathroom when the white didn’t look right on the walls. Here are some things I learned that might save you some sweat.
- Swatches don’t cut it. Getting a swatch is not enough – you really need to pick two or three paints that you like and paint a 3×4 foot area of the room you are working on. You can order samples from many paint vendors (some even allow ordering online so pickup is a breeze). I find that small investment on samples worth the savings of not having to repaint. When I do sample colors, I paint multiple walls in a room with natural light because lighting changes everything about the color. Speaking of lighting…
- White looks different in different lighting. Whites have different bases, and can turn yellow in a room depending on the lighting in a room. Southern facing rooms with full light have resulted in the best reveal for some of my projects, but I haven’t always been lucky to have natural lighting. Fixtures and bulbs can cast shadows, turning a creamy white into a dull or grey white. Make sure you understand the lighting in a room before you paint.
- Priming makes a difference. When going from dark to a lighter color, it’s best to prime. I usually use Zinsser primer first, even if my wall is light to begin with, to help give my lights and whites the best chance at getting to a true shade.
- Trim paints don’t need to be the same in every room. In my current house, we ran into an issue when our tiler installed our 4×10 white subway tile too close to a door. The contrast in whites between the tile and our original trim was just too much and the trim looked yellow. We settled on a trim color for the rest of the house (Benjamin Moore’s White Dove), but decided to do a different shade of white for the bathroom. It turned out great, and the blend between rooms is not noticeable (so far) to anyone but me.
Some of my favorite white trims are (no affiliation with Benjamin Moore, but I love their colors!):
- Benjamin Moore White Dove – a really nice creamy white, with a hint of grey undertone. It looks really nice with warm and cooler colors.
White Dove, image by Erik Kvalsvik via Houzz https://www.houzz.com/photos/598790/Georgetwon-House-traditional-kitchen-dc-metro
- Benjamin Moore Decorators White – this is a brighter, truer white, with a bit more of a cooler undertone.
Decorators White, image via HomeBunch http://www.homebunch.com/california-beach-house-with-crisp-white-coastal-interiors/
- Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace – a crisp, clean white. Much brighter than White Dove. We used this on a bathroom wall and ceiling, with White Dove trim, and it pairs nicely.
Chantilly Lace, image by Luke Gibson via Houzz https://www.houzz.com/photos/50632865/Playlist-Yoga-modern-los-angeles
- Benjamin Moore Super White – another crisp, clean white, that is close to true white. This color pairs well with Decorators White, and is great in more modern and contemporary settings. I’ve used on walls and for trim.
Super White, image via HomeBunch http://www.homebunch.com/interior-design-ideas-137/
- Benjamin Moore Simply White – this was one of Benjamin Moore’s more recent colors of the year, and it’s clear why. It’s a subtly creamy white that many people use on kitchen cabinets and trim. This white goes nicely on furniture, and is complementary with white dove as an accent trim.
Simply White, image via Houzz https://www.houzz.com/photos/18862138/Beach-Style-Living-Room-beach-style-living-room-vancouver