Let There Be White! How to choose the Perfect White Paint for Your Home

February 5, 2017
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One of the easiest ways to refresh your home is with a new coat of paint.  And there’s nothing like white paint to immediately make a room feel brand new. Plus, beautiful white walls create the perfect backdrop to make your rugs, artwork, and accent pieces really pop!

How to pick the perfect white paint color

SW Alabaster — Source: Honey and Fitz

When we moved into our home 7 years ago, I wanted to keep things simple, so I had all of the walls painted beige. (Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige)  And I was happy with it for a long time. It’s a nice, warm color that provides a good neutral foundation for any space.

But about a year ago, that nice beige paint started to bug me. A lot.  And I have Instagram and Pinterest to blame for it! Seeing all those beautiful bright spaces painted in various shades of white made me crave a lighter color palette for our home.

Little did I know how tricky choosing the perfect white paint color would be!  But after weeks of researching and testing and debating, I finally settled on two white paint colors I love–Benjamin Moore Simply White for the trim work (of which there will be a lot–more to come about that!) and BM White Dove everywhere else. Simply White is a pure, true white, while White Dove is an off-white.

Let There Be White! How to choose the "Perfect" White Paint Color

BM Simply White — Photo Source: Suburban Bees

Let There Be White! How to choose the "Perfect" White Paint Color

BM White Dove — Photo Source: Décor Pad

Our painting project began this weekend and I’m so excited to share the results with you!  In the meantime, though, I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me decide on the perfect white paint colors for our home.

Of course, the only perfect white paint is the one that’s perfect for YOUR home!

How to choose the perfect white paint for your home

  • Gather your favorites.  Start looking for rooms you like on Pinterest and Instagram.  This will help you determine whether you’re drawn to white paint in the cooler range, warmer range, or somewhere in between.  I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to Color Palettes, which helped me keep track of my favorites. You can also search Pinterest for specific paint colors to see what they look like in real rooms.  Also, many interior designers and bloggers, like Studio McGee , Becki Owens, and Julie Blanner, share their favorite white paints on their blogs.


  • Pick up swatches.  Once you’ve narrowed your choices down a bit, go to the paint or hardware store and pick up some paint swatches.  Then tape them to the wall to see how they compare to each other.  The tiny swatches won’t give you a great idea of what the paint will look like on the wall, but they will help you narrow down your choices.  After much debate, at this point I landed on 6 contenders: BM Simply White, BM White Dove, BM Swiss Coffee, SW (Sherwin Williams) Alabaster, SW Creamy, and SW Snowbound.

How to choose the perfect white paint color


  • Buy some samples.  Head to the paint store or home improvement center and ask them to mix samples of the paints you’re considering. Samples usually cost about $3.00 apiece.  Lowes and Home Depot can look up most paint colors in their computer systems and mix them for you.  I went to Home Depot for my Benjamin Moore samples and Lowes for the Sherwin Williams samples.

Let There Be White! How to choose the "Perfect" White Paint Color

  • Paint sample sheets and hang them on the wall.  First, let me tell you about a great time saver I discovered at Lowes. They sell a “Spot On” kit (about $8.00) which includes 3 samples from any of their paint brands as well as 3 large decal sheets to which you apply your paint. (Since I had 6 colors I wanted to test, I cut the decals in half.) Once the paint dries, you just peel off the back and stick them to your walls. The great thing is that you can remove and re-position them as often as you’d like, so you can try them on different walls.  The kit includes 3 little paint trays, 3 foam rollers, and a handle so you don’t have to use your own brushes to apply the paint!  You can get the kit in the paint department at Lowes or online. Another option is to paint your sample colors on large squares of poster board or foam core board and tape them to the wall.  Live with your test swatches for a day or two to see how they look throughout the day and in the evening in artificial light.

Let There Be White! How to choose the "Perfect" White Paint Color

  • If necessary, test right on the wall.  Still not sure?  Paint a coat or two of your final choice(s) right on the wall in a 3′ x 3′ square.  If you decide you don’t like it, you can just paint over it!
  • Choose your finish and buy your paint.  Once you’ve made your decision, head to the hardware store to buy your paint.  While we’ve used  Behr and Sherwin Williams in the past, lately we’ve come to love Lowes Valspar Reserve paint.  While most brands claim to cover in one coat, this one really does.  It’s a little fume-y, but you can use my essential oil tip, below, to help with the smell.  Most paint companies offer 5 paint finishes: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, and high-gloss. Flat is typically used on ceilings, while eggshell and satin are great for walls.  Satin has a slight sheen to it and is often used in kitchens and bathrooms and/or for trim. Semi-gloss is generally used for trim, while high gloss is sometimes used on doors–especially front doors. The higher the gloss, the easier it is to spot imperfections.
  • Start painting!  Sometimes getting started is the hardest part of all.  Once you get in the groove, though, painting can actually be kind of relaxing. Plus, you can’t beat the gratification of seeing your room transformed before your eyes!
  • A handy tip for paint fumesDiffusing essential oils is a great way to reduce or remove paint odors from your home.  I’ve found that peppermint oil works especially well!

P.S. Young House Love has great tips and tutorials on painting techniques.

I hope these tips will help you get started on your painting project. Good luck!

xo jane

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  • V Maguire
    February 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    Great post. My obsession w whites. You chose all the ones I choose in addition to Navajo
    BM for warmer white. 14 homes and several flips.. white is the trick and BM is my brand. Test all as you said for days in differing light. Being an artist I use 8×10 canvas panels. Even for other colors. Easy to shop fabrics with. The power of white. Everything else just pops! ☺

  • Jane
    February 9, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I’ll have to check out the Navajo white for some of our other rooms where I need a warmer white. I have to admit, going with white made me a little nervous, but your comment makes me feel so much better about my decision! And I love your tip about using canvasses for sample swatches! Thanks again!

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