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Design*Sponge Online Black Book: White Paint

by Grace Bonney

It’s funny how something as simple as a white wall can cause so much stress. Finding the right white paint for a project can be surprisingly difficult because, much like black paint, the undertones of white paint can drastically change the way the paint feels on the wall. Too much much yellow? The room feels dusty. Too much grey? It can feel too cold. But just the right balance in a white paint can create a perfectly fresh room that feels calm, clean and bright. So today we’re sharing our trusted white paints that each one of us has used, loved and recommended from personal experience. We’ve described each one so you can get an idea of what the undertones will be and how they’ll look at home. Happy Painting! xo, grace

*For more D*S Black Book posts, click here.


Click through for the full list our of favorite white paints…

Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (0C-17): All three of us swear by White Dove. As do a number of other interior designers and bloggers. I feel like this is one of the most recommended colors I see anywhere (online or in print) and with good reason. With just a bit of a yellow undertone, this white feels soft and warm- no hints of coldness anywhere. It’s great for any room, but I think it’s especially nice for sunny interiors where the yellow undertones can really shine.

white dove
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Image above: Benjamin Moore’s White Dove (image via Decorpad via At Home in Arkansas)

Benjamin Moore’s White Opulence (OC-69): Amy and her mother love this paint for its pink undertones. She used it on her own kitchen makeover (for the cabinets) with great results and then we found out this week that it’s Jessica Helgerson’s go-to white paint as well! The pink tones don’t read as pink so much in person, just a nice warmth that goes well with blacks and greys. If you’re not a fan of whites that have a lot of yellow in the base, this one’s for you.

white opulence
Image above: Benjamin Moore’s White Opulence (image via Benjamin Moore)

Farrow & Ball’s Wevet: I love Farrow & Ball whites. LOVE. They are my go-tos for almost everything and I’ve never been let down by one of their white hues, even when I choose without seeing them on a wall first. I like Wevet’s subtle yellow undertone- although sometimes it reads as a bit of a green undertone (which I actually prefer) when it’s next to grey. I use a lot of grey at home, so I like that little subtle bit of a green hint.

Image above: Farrow & Ball’s Wevet (image via Farrow & Ball’s site)

Farrow & Ball’s Ammonite: This probably my favorite white. It’s got a very subtle chalky green undertone and suggests the feel of the minerals after which it’s named. This is my go-to when I want a really clean crisp white. It’s not as startling as a ‘decorator’s white’, but not as warm or dusty as some of the other popular white paint colors.

Image above: Farrow & Ball Ammonite, via Farrow & Ball’s site.

Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White: This color is very bright and very, very WHITE. It’s a great option for trim and doors if you like a bright pop of white and a high contrast room. But if you want crisp “like new” molding and trim, this is a great and trusted option.

decorator's white
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Image above: Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White (bottom image via Decorpad via Boston Magazine)

Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White: This white has a sort of soft linen feel to it. I used to love a Farrow & Ball color (which was called ‘Linen’ I believe) that was discontinued and this is the closest thing I can find to it now. It’s soft, warm but doesn’t have too much of a yellow undertone. I think it’s perfect for wainscoting, bead board and wooden planks- it really has a soft ‘country house’ sort of feel to it.

ivory white
Benjamin Moore’s Ivory White (bottom image via BrunchatSaks)

Suggested For You


  • I currently live in a rental where every single room is a beigey yellow color that makes everything look not quite clean and makes me sad. I know my landlord would be okay with a shade of white so I have been seriously considering it. There are some areas of the apartment that get very very little natural light. I know that paint colors can change with the light you get in the space, so I was wondering if any of these works particularly well a space that doesn’t get a lot of natural light.

  • My favourite white is Polar Bear by Behr. It is very crisp without being stark, and has a little blue undertone. All of our trim is done in this white.

    Seeing the linen colour by Benjamin Moore makes me want to redo my master bedroom!

  • Whites are SO tough…I’m a designer and struggling right now to choose a white for my own home! Surprised F + B All White isn’t mentioned…one of my favs, but these are all excellent choices. Most people forget to account for light exposure-so major.

  • We are renters and also stuck with white. We painted several rooms and had to deal with southern, northern and western exposures.
    Decorators White did the job for us for every room. It’s very bright, but clean and no undertones to be detected.

  • I recently painted my west facing bedroom BM Atrium White (which was confusingly renamed something generic that I don’t remember), which has a warm, very slightly pink/cream tone to it, which helps to balance that the light is filtered through a huge tree just outside my window. The room was previously a muddy grey-green, so now it’s about a million times brighter and warmer. When the sun hits the wood floors in the evening it absolutely glows – I love it.

  • Behr’s UltraPure White right off the shelf is my go to. Looks wonderful in the sunlight and evening lamplight as well.

  • My favorite white that I recommend to my design clients for a clean, modern look is Benjamin Moore’s Super White. It’s a true white that pairs so well with the warmth of wood floors and cool art on the walls.

  • My living room (northwest facing) is currently painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Dove. It looks dingy — White Dove is best in rooms that get lots of direct light. I’ve managed to repaint half the room in Benjamin Moore’s Snow White (with trim in glossy Decorator White) and the blue-y cast of the white really makes the space look bigger, brighter, cleaner. It’s my MVP for houses with not a lot of direct light.

  • I chose white dove fifteen years ago when I bought my first house for our trim. I’ve used no other white since. It makes it easy all around for remembering and always having some on hand, whether glossy, flat or anywhere in between, it’s in my stash!

  • what are your feelings about BM Chantilly Lace? I am painting a hand-me-down wall unit that color for my “art room” as it seems to be a clean white without dingy undertones. thinking of doing the entire room that color.

  • Great post! Thank you! What is your take on Glidden’s Dove White? That is our current front-runner for the walls in our home. I think we will go with BM Decorator’s White for the trim work.

  • For Tis I would recommend a yellow base for colors painted in a north facing room. Northern light tends to gray up any color and strips out warm tones. Also, the same color can look drastically different in a north west room versus a north east room.

    In our new home I shied away from strong color on the walls, since we want color to come from our furnishings. I chose Benjamin Moore’s Standish White, which is hardly a white. It’s a lovely neutral with golden warm tones.

    This color is cozy in our south-facing main room and kitchen. It stays warm and cheery (as opposed to gray toned) as light is lost throughout the day. We also love it in our north west room, but the warm tones are completely stripped out in the north east room, so I added some Monroe Bisque and created a custom color for our bedroom.

    I used this same custom color for the sunny room that stretches along the entire west side of our house. Standish White (pure; not customized) would wash out and look too pale and pastel in all that bright light, but the warmed up custom color is perfect in there.

    It’s been quite the challenge testing and mixing colors to get this just right. Something else that has been throwing off my color quest is the orange toned oak floors. They are that traditional orange stain you see in older homes. We intend to redo them in a more natural stain later this year, but meanwhile had to wrestle with the extra wash of orange on the walls.

    So there are lots of factors that affect color selection, especially when dealing with whites and neutrals. I’ve learned that the first step should be to understand how natural and artificial lighting washes the room, and the predominant colors from the furnishings and flooring you intend to keep.

  • Thanks for posting! The description of BM Decorators’ White is intriguing. I used it in a guest room — and I love it — but it has a distinctly gray undertone to me. The room faces north and there are mature trees nearby, so there isn’t a lot of direct sunlight. As you noted ere, the natural light your space gets makes the biggest difference.

  • I used Ben. Moore’s Atrium White on the trim in our family room (w/ BM Linnen White on the walls), and it’s nice and creamy in a room that gets tons of natural light.
    But then I discovered Ben. Moore’s Cotton Balls White – it has a milky depth that’s beautiful. I lacquered my two bedside tables in it and it’s stunning. I’d do this on walls or trim the next time I need a white.

  • I have used several of the whites listed in your favorites. My go to white for my house is Pratt and Lamberts Silver Lining. It is a beautiful white with a hint of yellow undertone so it has great warmth. My house has lots of windows and light and it goes with everything and is never too bright but clean and inviting.

  • I really love Benjamin Moore’s Lacey Pearl. It’s actually the palest shade of grey but lighting and exposure definitely affects the look of this colour in just the perfect way. I’ve used it in two apartments so far. In the dark corridor of one apartment where it looked pale grey. In my current home, I used it in several rooms where it appears to be white as lighting is much brighter. This is a great colour to use if you want a soft contrast off stark white moldings and trims.

  • so interested in the several folks who proclaimed to be renters and are therefor “stuck” with white! like most new york city residents, I am a renter as well, and i have always painted my apartment walls without a second thought. if a landlord refused to return my deposit i would simply paint the walls back white again. is this not an option in other places?

  • Nice! After testing a half dozen Benjamin Moore whites in our moody victorian with mahogany trim & moldings, the White Dove won hands-down.

    I really wanted the Decorator’s White to work (because it would brighten the space substantially), but it was unbelievably icy. Maybe best-suited to a more modern place with good lighting?

  • Our Vancouver Home Depot can speed mix Swiss Coffee and Cloud White (even though they don’t carry BM) apparently their most popular whites by far.

  • Glad to see two comments mention Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, and a bit surprised it didn’t make the cut above. I’ve seen it in a Toronto house’s downstairs (living room, hall, and dining room). It was the PERFECT white. Bright, joyful, soft, prismatic.

  • Ava-great question! I would also love to know specifically which white would you recommend for a basement area that doesnt get a ton of natural light flooding in!!

    Based on the article, I was thinking the F & B wevet sounds like a good fit for a basement duplex project where I am painting the doors craftsman doors SW Prairie Grass(http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW7546-prairie-grass/) does the wevet sound like a good winner as I am looking for thet white with a little hinty hint of green? any advice appreciated ;)

  • I too am glad to see others mention BM Chantilly Lace. The downstairs walls and all trim in my condo is this color and I LOVE it, although I’m not a big fan of the name.

  • 90% of our house is benjamin moore’s simply white, and i love it. love. that being said, we live in a snowy northern climate, and when there is snow on the ground, the exterior (which is also simply white) looks a bit dingy. inside, i absolutely love the white in every room except the master bath. we mixed marble with white ceramic tile, and the paint color looks fine with the marble, but not so much with the ceramic. whites are so, so tricky. i wish i would have seen this list three years ago when we were building!

  • My favorite white is BM Simply White. I live in Seattle so it was important for me to nail down a white that didn’t turn cold or sterile with Seattle’s diffused, gray light. Simply White warms up our living room space and most importantly, stays warm even when it’s cold and gray outside. At first, I was afraid it looked like a pale banana color against our stark white trim but I really love it now. I’m considering redoing our office in Simply White too. I recommend it for almost everywhere except maybe for truly modern, minimalist type homes.

    • Hi, I too have the interior of my house painted with simply white, it does have a slight yello undertone to it. I am now thinking of painting all trims and moldings, which white did you choose for yours and how dies the statk white pair with simply white? Thanks

  • Can anyone tell me if they have used Ben Moores Standish White?
    I was originally trying to get Sherwin Wolliams Ivoirre but SW has got problems w that color. Any help is appreciated.

  • I chose Ben Moore Cloud White trim since I have warm toned cherry clean-lines Shaker furniture, and Ivory White for the walls. The Ivory White was awful….SO YELLOWISH and not modern at all ! Hated it. Moved on to the rest of the house and had to make a fast decision to have my impatient painter paint the walls, ceiling AND trim/woodwork all Cloud White. It’s okay, it’s nice enough, although I would have preferred a bit more contrast to show off the trim/moldings, but it’s so much better than the awful yellowish Ivory White, but I would love to find another off-white or pale color to repaint those Ivory White walls and still keep things neutral and fresh and a bit more modern. Anyone have any ideas for a nice pale neutral that would work with Cloud White? Tried a board of BM Overcast, didn’t like it at all. Why didn’t I hire a decorator?!

  • Excellent and informative article, Grace! (Thank you.) -Brenda-
    P.S.: For those wanting to determine the undertone of a white; hold it up against Benjamin Moore OC-65 ‘Chantilly Lace’. It works every time!

  • I’m in the process of painting my walls BM- White Dove. It definitely has a yellow undertone. It looks best, to me, on a sunny day when the natural light is shining in on it. I was going to paint my trim Simply White, but looking at the comments above, it may have a yellow undertone as well. Now, I’m not sure. Maybe Behr’s Ultra White would work. I just need a good bright white for the trim. Thinking I’ll pick something else for my bedroom walls since White Dove does have the yellow undertone and I don’t get much natural light in that room at all. Nice post. Very informative.

    • I have used BM simply white for trim discovered Behr Ultra white in gloss and have not stopped using it. The more coats you put on the more glass like it looks. I have done this when I moved into the house and re did the whole house trim after losing house in Sandy. I love it!

  • Hi all, thanks for the article. I was thinking of painting the walls (Main Entrance) BM- White Dove and the moldings and trim Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White, how would that pair? And then my other walls (Dining Room/Sitting Room) a gray with a purple undertone – and accents purple, yellow and gray with light oak furniture. I am south/east with lots of Natural Light – I am just struggling with the Gray paint and if the BM WD and BM DW will blend well. Essentially I want to achieve a flowing color scheme with purple and yellow undertones to bring out the oak furniture. I am in the right direction? Help! Phe

  • Thanks to the incredibly robust comment section on this two-year-old article! Because of the discussion here I just painted my living room/dining room Chantilly Lace and I am really liking it so far. I live in an old brick house in northern OH and don’t get much natural light – I needed something pure and white (Simply White was yellowish, White Dove looked dingy) but not too “primer-ish.” This shade was perfect. Just wanted to follow up and say thanks for this resource!

  • I painted my entire upstairs linen white from benjamin moore. Too dark so if you want to decorate with other bright whites the walls look dingy. Am now repainting the entire thing one year later — live and learn.

  • I am painting my living area Gray Owl and want to add board/Batten wainscoting. What white would work with Gray Owl, the room itself gets very poor lighting?? Floors will be a rustic lighter oak brown-grey. Glad I found this board!!

    • Hi I am looking to paint the walls downstairs in my home (living, kitchen, and family rooms). At first I was going with White Dove because I had read it had a tint of grey but now I have read it has a yellow tint. I am now leaning towards Chantilly Lace – can you tell me if it has any grey in it.

  • I am considering using BM white opulence throughout my interior I have wood trim and direct light is this a good colour

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