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Choosing the right white paint colors

It might be the question we’re asked more often than any other:

“What is the best white paint?!”

Well, as you might imagine, it’s not quite that simple!

While you might think that white is white is white, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Walk down any paint aisle at the 48451 white paints and you’ll find that out real quick.

Here are a few tips on how we choose the right white paint colors for our client's homes (and our own!). Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for our Tried and True white paint colors AND the combinations that work every time!


Your design style can help dictate what white might be right for you. More modern homes often tend towards cooler or neutral whites, while classic or traditional homes often lean towards warmer whites.

choosing white paint contemporary SW snowbound

For this contemporary home, we opted for Sherwin Williams Snowbound on the walls SW 7004. Modern homes tend to want to avoid creamy warm whites. Cooler and neutral whites tend to complement and enhance artwork and other features to let them shine.

choosing white paint restored farmhouse SW alabaster

Want your white walls to feel more like a warm hug? For this 1869 restored Farmhouse, a warmer white (Sherwin Williams Alabaster SW 7008), was the right call for the shiplap walls. Warm and inviting was the vibe we wanted to create here, so a cool white would have been a swing and a miss.


So, what actually determines a cool or a warm white? It’s the undertone. All colors have an undertone, be it paint, metal, wood, anything. Every paint is made up of the base paint + tints. I’m oversimplifying a bit, but warmer whites are tinted with yellows, oranges, and reds; cooler whites are tinted with blues and purples.

A good rule of thumb with whites – stick with all cool undertones or warm undertones when selecting your wall and trim paints to achieve paint harmony.

Neutral undertones can go in either direction, so they’re like a Wild Card in the best way!

choosing white paint BM White Dove BM Simply White transitional

The walls and trim are painted in warm whites (BM OC-17 White Dove walls, BM OC-117 Simply White trim), perfect for a transitional style. They are a warm white without being overly yellow or buttery.

choosing white paint SW Snowbound and trim SW Bright White

The walls are painted a neutral SW 7004 Snowbound and trim SW 7007 Ceiling Bright White for a crisp, contemporary vibe.


If you are painting white (or any color), if you hear nothing else from me today, TEST THE PAINT. Not just in one spot, but on all 4 walls. You want to see how the sunlight in that room is going to impact the color. We’ve seen the same color look yellow in one room and totally neutral in another. If you’re going to go through the expense, especially if you’re painting the whole house, test those suckers out.


Choosing white paints for your home can feel overwhelming, so we’ve taken the guesswork out for you! Use the link below to grab our Free Guide packed with our Go-To white paints that we’ve used on countless projects. It includes which whites are our favorites for walls, cabinets, and trim, PLUS we've paired them up for you with which combos work best together for your walls and trim.

These tried and true whites won't let you down.

Tara Lenney Design go to white paints and combos


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