Tips for choosing White Paint Colors

Back in the day when my daughter was in high school, I was talking to her about needing to choose a color for a room makeover I was working on. And she said ‘Are you choosing another shade of white? Our house is nothing but shades of white.’

I frowned a bit and said ‘No it’s definitely not only shades of white… I have color in the house…like…
everywhere. I have a green bench in the living room for example. That is colorful.

And then there is the bathroom– I mean- red toile wallpaper… come on. That is definitely colorful.

Okay- to be fair, the red has now changed to shades of white and marble.


I finished listing all the different colorful touches in the house and she nodded and said ‘Okay.’ but not as in okay- got it. It’s more like an okay, whatever you say, pal. Off we went to the hardware store and while my husband gathered supplies- I gathered paint chip options- in various colors that spoke to me. when I brought them home and laid them on the coffee table and I noticed something suspicious about them.

They were definitely all shades of white. She might have been right.

dark bookcases

farmhouse kitchen

And our go to favorite since this post was first written (back in 2016!) is Benjamin Moore Simply White.

Since we are getting ready to give our interior walls and ceilings a fresh coat- white paint has been on my mind again and I always get a ton of questions about what color our walls are and how to choose the perfect white paint.


To be honest, I would love to know the secret too. I don’t think there is any simple way to do it. It depends on personal preference and lighting in your home. Did you know that choosing a white paint is one of the hardest to choose? Because there are so many complex layers of drops of color in each shade to consider.

#1. Undertones


in the bedroom before we updated our interior paint in the past couple of years- this ‘white’ did not really look a white color. Sometimes it looks more like a whiter-white during bright sunshine- but when the sun is just coming up or setting- the color leans more creamy almost yellow because of the yellow undertone that it has.

The bedroom now looks like a vanilla white in sunrise and sunset lighting and is fresher and crisper in the sunshine with Simply White on the walls.


Pay attention to the undertone for the paint you choose. Whites come with gray, yellow, cream, pink, blue, purple, beige- you name it undertones. One of the reasons it makes choosing the right one so hard. I almost often choose a warmer white with a gray or taupe undertone and I try to avoid whites with a blue undertone or too much yellow.

#2. The lighting

This is another key thing. If you have an abundance of strong light – from windows and french doors for example – take that into consideration. You can probably get away with darker or heavier undertones and keep the white looking white. And if you are relying on an interior room that lacks natural light

you probably need a brighter white to add some oomph. The room below is one of the hardest rooms to photograph in the house because it is a completely interior room and there is a lack of balanced light. We have since updated it to Simply White.

wall with plates

#3. Those names? Forget about it.

  • Summer Lily.
  • Sentimental.
  • Pale Bloom.
  • Intricate Ivory.
  • NiceWhite.
  • SimpleWhite.
  • Perfect white.

They evoke a feeling- you fall in love… but you can’t choose your white based on a name. The problem with the paint color names is that they all sound fantastic. Who wouldn’t want Summer Lily or Pale Bloom walls? And when people ask what color is in your bedroom you smile and say ‘oh, it is Summer Lily.not’ it is White.

And maybe Summer Lily is THE one. Though I’m not swayed by the rosy thoughts of me standing in a garden filled with gorgeous fragrant lilies with my dress and hair flowing in the warm summer breeze making me look like a super model. okay… maybe I am a little bit swayed by that idea a bit but of course- it’s not the name but how it looks on the walls.


Benjamin Moore Simply White

Simply White is just that. Simple and simply white. It doesn’t really have much in the way of cool or warm undertones- though I feel it is a bit warmer than cooler. It is really mostly just white. And we liked it so much when using it the first time – that we refreshed every room in the house with it. It is an easy to live with white paint color and if you are looking at a pile of paint chips like above and just want a simple white paint color- I don’t think you can go wrong with Benjamin Moore Simply White.

living room

Next week, I will delve into sheens and how to choose the right one for you and let you know if I decide to update our go-to Simply White with another ‘shade of white’ this year. What is your favorite white paint color?

Happy Friday Favorites all.