Choosing the Right Shade of White

Choosing the Right Shade of White

Choosing the Right Shade of White


When it comes to interiors, no color is as long-standing as white. But it seems like there are fifty (thousand) shades to choose from! Homepolish's Lindsay Saccullo walks us through how to pick the best one for your room.

Do you love the look of clean white walls, but have no idea where to start? You’re not alone! Having just purchased and remodeled my first house, I quickly became a color commitment-phobe. I have no problem dishing out design advice for clients, but when it came to our very first home, I joked to my husband that we needed to hire a designer, because I just could not pull the trigger on anything.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the “light and airy” look, and I’ve never come across a white interior I didn’t like. I decided we were going with the white interior for the entire first floor of the house. I quickly came to find that there are literally thousands of shades of white… enough to make a girl go bonkers. Let me share some paint tips that will keep you sane.



Tip 1: Follow your gut

Don’t worry about what’s “trendy,” “timeless,” or “classic.” At the end of the day, it’s your space, and you are looking at these walls every day. Sure, it’s just paint and it can be easily changed, but you don’t want to spend the money or time (or both), just to realize that you’re not feeling it.


Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Squarefoot Interior Design.

Tip 2: Where to begin the choosing process

Where do you even begin to choose from the plethora of whites that are on the market? Have no fear; the internet is here! In this day and age, we are lucky that we have billions of images at our fingertips. I find that when I’m at a loss of where to start, looking at images is the best way to focus in. Find a pic of an interior that you absolutely love, and voila! Instant “inspo.” Study factors like lighting, ceiling height, and furniture colors too, as those can affect how a color appears in an image.



Tip 3: Hone in Your Tone

Then there’s the question of what tone of white you want. Are you a warm person or a cool person? (I’m sure you’re all cool people, but we’re talking about color here.) Do you gravitate towards reds, pinks, and oranges, or are you more of a gray and blue lover? Do you prefer gold-toned or silver-toned metals in your space? (If you are unsure of spaces, think of it in terms of jewelry accessories.) This will totally translate to your interior.



Tip 4: Put it to the test!

Once you’ve honed your tone, choose at least three color options to test on your wall. If you have the luxury of slapping the paint right on the wall, that’s the best way! If not, no worries. Just paint up some quick foam board samples and use painter’s tape to put them up on the wall and ponder.

If you can, give it at least a full day or two to conduct a color study. Colors (yes, even whites!) change throughout the day as the sun changes position. You may love the way a color looks at night, but not so much during the day.



Tip 5: Choose your finish

I know, I know… There are so many options with paint, it’s overwhelming! But we’re almost there! You’ve got to make sure you choose the right finish for your space. Do you want flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, gloss? Just those four options are enough to make your head spin.

As a general rule of thumb, I always do eggshell finish on the walls, flat finish on the ceilings, and semi-gloss on trim. Flat finish gets beat up easily, so if you have lots of traffic in your home, kids, or pets, definitely go eggshell. Flat is totally fine for ceilings (unless you’re Lionel Richie and you’re dancing on the ceiling). Semi-gloss on the trim gives a little sheen and sets it apart from the walls but won’t completely show all the imperfections (as high-gloss does… unless you do an immense amount of prep-work, which of course corresponds with an investment of time and money).



Designer Picks

After all this, you might be saying, “GREAT. Can you just give me some color names??” Calm yourself. Taking everything from the tips above into consideration, these are some of my picks for white walls:
Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White
Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace
Benjamin Moore’s White Dove
Sherwin-Williams Company’s Alabaster
Sherwin Williams Company’s Dover White
Farrow & Ball’s All White

Remember, that not all shades are a universal fit. Make sure to test it out with your space and your tastes before going all in. And once you’ve finished painting, make sure you follow our guide to accessorizing an all-white space.

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