When you’re gutting a home and transforming it from the floor to the ceiling, it seems like choosing a white paint would be an easy process in the midst of the entire experience… and it doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s more than just grabbing the first white paint you see! Today I wanted to share my tips for easily choosing the right white paint for your space.
Paints are so easy to choose in theory, because there are so many gorgeous colors and shades on a paint chip, but what we don’t see are the undertones that pop up in different lighting situations. Back story; in our home in Michigan before we moved, I fell in love with gray and wanted #grayallday… even on the walls. I danced through the paint aisles and found grays that I loved, narrowed the choice down to my favorites and ordered gallons that would fill our walls. From the main bathroom through the living room and dining room, we rolled gray late into the night and it was beautiful. And then it dried, and the sun came up and when we woke in the morning it looked as though we bathed our home in lavender. Though walls can be repainted, I didn’t right away and spent the next few months explaining my story to everyone that came in and exclaimed we had purple walls. Lesson learned.
This time around in our new Florida home, I’m making painting our walls white as a bright and cheery base for all of our design elements… and I’m being sure the color isn’t too cool and isn’t too warm, but in fact it’s juuuust the right white paint.
Here are a few tips for testing paint colors, and finding the right white paint shade…
View the whites online first!
While paint chips can look perfect in store and in hand, we can easily miss the undertones that can end up looking dirty, creamy or take on whole new colors depending on your space and lighting. Though the color may not look just like the swatch online does when you’re rolling onto your walls, what you are seeing when you look at the websites are the pure undertones because the white fades into the background (especially when the swatch is on a white background). Just check out the swatch of a few of my fave whites below, all of these colors on a wall would look white but when we look at the colors this way, we seen those undertones (that will making their way out as the light shifts) crystal clear!
Warm or cool?
Based on the rest of your decor, decide if you fit into the warmer or cooler tones. Nail down how you want your room to feel and then you can narrow your focus when it comes to tones. With whites, there are warm, cool and even brights (bright meaning almost no undertone at all). I tend to lean towards the cooler whites that have a blue/green or grey base while the warmer whites have more of a red or yellow based hue. Deciding on a warm or cool white will guide you in the right direction.
Swatch your favorite white options.
Paint the sample on at least two walls in your room, and especially if you have one that receives direct sunlight and one that only gets indirect light. It’s worth the extra few bucks to buy the sample size of your top paint choices to try around the room. I like to see the differences between day and night, with sunlight and artificial light and it’s incredible how lighting can shift in different rooms.
You definitely don’t want to skimp on the sample sections on your walls. You’re going to be painting the walls anyway, so don’t be afraid to test out a large portion. Double up on the coats to make sure you get the true effect of the color.
Determine what else will be in the room.
If you already have textiles or other design elements that you’re incorporating into the room, hold them up to your paint swatches to see how the tones work together. Does the tone compliment your couch or rug? Does your favorite, inspiration pillow clash with the hue? You want all of your elements working together cohesively with your right white paint, so don’t skip this part!
You can actually see us testing out some of these paint colors in the kitchen/living space in one of our House to Home episodes!
A few of my favorites:
- Falling Snow, Behr (what we ended up choosing for most of the house!)
- White Moderne, Behr
- Polar Bear, Behr
- Pure White, Sherwin Williams
- Ultra Pure White, Behr (our choice for trim, in semi-gloss)
- Chantilly Lace, Benjamin Moore
- Paper White, Benjamin Moore
- Ultra White, Valspar
Side tip: I typically go with an eggshell finish on our walls because of the ease of cleaning while it hides most imperfections (read: small handprints) Usually though, samples come in a satin finish, so keep that in mind when you’re testing and the finish is really shiny! Also, I recommend a bright while in a semi-gloss finish for trim boards and moulding.
So tell us, what color is the right white paint for you? Or do you have another favorite hue for your walls?