Interior Designers Share Their All-Time Favorite White Paint Colors
Selecting colors is always a complicated part of the home-painting process, but choosing white paints can be especially challenging—even for interior designers. You have to consider all kinds of factors: Is the lighting natural or artificial? Is the white hue itself going to cast a color? Will you be hanging art on the walls? Are there any patterned wallpapers visible nearby? All of these are questions to ask when determining the best white paint color for any room.
It's a dilemma most professionals face, says interior designer Melissa Rufty. "Selecting a white paint seems simple in theory, but I find it's actually the most complicated. What many don't realize is that white is actually a color. Whites will give off a pink, yellow, blue, or even green cast," she says. These hues can interact with your furniture, fabrics, artwork, and lighting, and may not be the right fit, depending on your setting. "You want to select a shade of white that won't fight what you're working with," adds interior designer Elizabeth Stuart. "For instance, if you have warm or orangey types of wood in your design, and you paint the wall with a white that has a tinge of blue in it, you'll hate it. It's not the furniture—it's the paint." Essentially, the complementary colors will make one another pop, and, therefore, compete for visual territory.
To avoid this disappointment after spending the time and money covering an entire room, Stuart suggests painting samples of a few shades on large sheets of foam core board and using paint tape to stick each board to different areas of a room. "I'll paint a really big swatch and will move it around the room so I can see what it looks like during the day, at nighttime, and everything in between," she says. Method aside, beginning with a versatile white is the best way to ensure you'll be sampling the right shade for your room. Ahead, interior designers share their favorite white paint colors.
"Pure White is a true, bright white, without any color cast," says interior designer, Sarah Sherman Samuel, who recently made over Mandy Moore's California home. "It's not too cool, not too warm—just perfectly neutral when you need a clean white."
Shop Now: Sherwin Williams Pure White SW7005, from $38.49, sherwin-williams.com.
Both Sherman Samuel and Elizabeth Stuart call on Farrow & Ball's All White for many of their projects. Stuart says, "I'm always searching for what I call a 'bridge white,' which is a white that will look great with whatever colors I'm working with. Most of my design projects end up having a lot of artwork, and this shade is just beautiful. I can hang an amazing oil painting with yellows or grays in it, and it will still look great."
Shop Now: Farrow & Ball All White No. 2005, from $47.95, farrow-ball.com.
"I love to use Sea Salt by Portola Paints in spaces that require some additional warmth," says Jake Arnold, who designed Sophia Bush's home. "Typically, I'll use this white in older homes where I need a white that feels fresh, but never harsh. I used it recently in an old 1920s Spanish Revival home in Los Feliz."
Shop Now: Portola Paints Sea Salt, price upon request, portolapaints.com.
Susan Work of Homework Design says, "Our favorite go-to white paint of the past 15 years is White Dove. It's the most flexible white, as it can go with either a cool or warm palette. It's that magical—and works for us every single time."
Rufty also knows this color's power—and uses it strategically throughout her projects. "In bathrooms with white plumbing fixtures like sinks and bathtubs, I tend to use White Dove," she says. "I also like this white in kitchens, where white tiles or slabs are used."
Shop Now: Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17, from $42.99, benjamin-moore.com.
Jenny Dina Kirschner of JDK Interiors relies on Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace when she's looking to brighten a space. "It's a very easy white paint color to work with in nearly any room, with any type of light. It's my go-to when I need crisp, clean walls with absolutely no undertones."
Shop Now: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace 2121-70, from $42.99, benjamin-moore.com.
"To soften a room, I use Benjamin Moore's Steam," says Kirschner. "No matter the time of day or type of light, it reads as a more creamy, warm white without the yellow undertones that many other warm white paint colors have."
Shop Now: Benjamin Moore Steam AF-15, from $42.99, benjamin-moore.com.
"I love using Farrow & Ball's Pointing in projects that have really rich colors in the design," says Stuart. "It's a warmer white, and it works really well with pale pinks and rich eggplants. It's perfect for when you want a creamy white without it looking beige or eggy."
Shop Now: Farrow & Ball Pointing No. 2003, from $47.95, farrow-ball.com.
"White Cliffs is an amazing white—it's a true white," says Arnold. "It's perfect for those who have great art to display, as it provides the perfect backdrop for layering. I used it for a client in Brentwood who has a lot of art with rich colors and tones, and [it looks] really in sync."
Shop Now: Portola Paints White Cliffs, price upon request, portolapaints.com.