I have been in a perpetual state of picking the right white paint for the last two years, it seems.
Now, it really hasn’t been two WHOLE years and, to be fair, it was three paints for three different locations. And, let me also preface this whole discussion with…there is no right white paint. There are several. What worked in my locations may not work in yours. It is a process and I just want to share my process and let you in on a secret. Picking the right white paint for your home (or work) can be difficult even for those of us who profess to know what we are doing.
Picking the right white paint, part one.
First, I renovated a building that would become my office and storefront. It has A LOT of glass which translates to A LOT of light flooding in from all directions, allowing for many paint options.
I selected taupey accents for the office rug, stair railings, ceiling and baseboard. I met this white and he played well with everyone.
Kind of beige looking, right? Well, look at it in the full light in one of our front window vignettes.
And here, on the flip side of this movable wall, in a darker part of the store. It has the right warmth under both conditions and is a great backdrop for all the vintage art we sell.
There are both SO different from the swatch, right?
That is why I cannot stress enough to pick up small sample cans from the paint store.
For mere dollars, you could save hundreds. Begin by painting LARGE swaths (not a teeny tiny swipe that doesn’t tell you ANYTHING) on various walls in the room(s) you are painting. This will allow you to see it in various situations, depending on the light each wall gets throughout the day. Or, if you can’t stomach marking up the walls, paint samples on poster board. You can move the board around the room(s) to see different lighting during the day and evening. Did I do this at my office? No. I just got lucky and liked White Tail immediately. It was love at first sight, kind of like my first boyfriend, except I still like the paint.
Picking the right white paint, part two (or Misery, the live version of the movie, according to Mr. F&F).
After surviving the store renovation, I decided that my entire house needed painting. And it needed to be white. There were samples on walls everywhere, four colors in total, including White Tail of which I had recently become enamored, as you know. Even though it looked perfect in the store with all the other elements, it looked horrible in my home. Different lighting and a totally different vibe is a lesson in why your friend’s living room paint might suck in your home. Greek Villa (SW 7551) was a strong contender and there was another can I just recently found called “custom mix.” I don’t even remember what that was all about. And the winner is? We chose (that’s the “Royal We”) Dover White (SW 6385).
I had lived with faux painted walls with a decidedly yellowish, smoky cast for many years. It was my ode to Spanish living for my Spanish Casa. The before photo…
Same view, but with different furniture configuration and white paint. Dover White has the right feel with a subtle nod to the yellow that I still love. As you can see, I have a whole lot going on with colorful art, fabric and pattern. The warm, white walls provide relief and I have never looked back…
Here’s a peek into my family room with the same paint color, Dover White. Different lighting and wallpaper in my eating nook break up all the white paint. Again, texture, art, painted furniture and, well, lots going on is how I roll…
So, after a year of painting and cosmetic upfits, it was time for picking the right white paint, part 3. The outside edition.
Top one is Dover White, making a repeat performance from its success inside. Alabaster (SW 7008) is in the center. And the winner is…
…Creamy (SW 7012).
Looks kind of fleshy but in the outside light it achieves the California Casa look I am going for. Think creamy stucco (which I have on the back of my house) paired with black iron and russet-tone woods. I don’t have the big reveal as our painter is basically Eldin, Murphy Brown’s painter, reincarnated. He has been here for two months (sanding and scraping and bitching and moaning over our 95 year old house) and I don’t see an end in sight. He sings out loud while he works and most importantly, he is OUTSIDE, therefore not intrusive. I’m hoping for a Christmas reveal.
What do you like most about white paint and what is your favorite white paint color? For more ideas and proof that white walls are classic, read here.
I love reading about your white paint color journey!
Angela Roehk says
I hear your pain! I just painted my kitchen and breakfast room from sunny yellow to Aethetic White. Let’s just say, it is not as white as I had thought it was going to be after painting three coats over the old yella’ I wonder what color of white are used by art galleries? I want a chalky, plaster looking white- I have even added drywall compound mix into the paint to reduce luster of a “flat” paint. It is becoming an obsession ! Thanks for posting- nice to know someone else goes through the same agonizing journey with paint!;-)
Benjamin Moore has a new line called “Century” – it is chalky and lovely and has a beautiful feel. It is only available to the trade (which you are) and not sure who has it. Wake Paint in Raleigh might have it since they are a big store. I feel you, girl!
Debbie Souther says
I love Sherwin Williams Dover White. I have used it in my home for years. I recently tried experimenting with some brighter whites. I brought home at least 20 different paint swatches. I even bought cans of paint samples to try. Only the Dover White had the right feel to it. I love white walls in newer open floor plan houses but my 1970s house with red oak hardwood floors needs a warmer tint to make it feel tied together. White walls and slightly orange floors do not mesh well. I agree that people need to buy cans of paint samples before buying a gallon of paint. The sample of paint that matched the swatch I liked best was way to white when it dried on the wall. PS Make sure you specifically ask for Dover White. There is a paint named Dover White Cliff that is a white gray/pink color.