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What is the best shade of white to paint a room?

What is the best shade of white to paint a room?

Choosing the right shade of white to paint a room can be a daunting task. With so many options like bright white, antique white, warm white, cool white, off-white, etc., deciding on the perfect white hue that complements your space can be tricky. The right white paint color can make a room look fresh and clean or cozy and elegant. On the other hand, the wrong shade of white can make a space feel cold and sterile.

When selecting a white paint color, it’s important to consider the amount of natural light the room receives, the color and material of the floors and furnishings, and the overall ambiance you want to achieve. In this article, we’ll discuss different categories of white paint colors and factors to consider when choosing a white paint. We’ll also provide specific white paint color recommendations for different rooms like bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Different Categories of White Paint Colors

True Whites

True whites are the purest shades of white without any undertones. They include colors like gloss white, bright white, and antique white. True whites contain the least amount of color pigment and reflect the most light. This makes them ideal for dark rooms with minimal natural light. The ultra-reflective surface of true whites makes spaces feel open, clean, and airy. However, large surfaces painted in true whites can also feel sterile and cold.

Some popular true white paint colors are:

– Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace
– Sherwin-Williams Extra White
– Behr Ultra Pure White
– Valspar Swiss Coffee

Off-Whites/Warm Whites

Off-whites and warm whites have a slight yellow, beige, or greige (gray-beige) undertone. The faint undertone gives them a softer, warmer look than true whites. Off-whites are versatile shades that work well in a variety of settings from traditional to contemporary spaces. The warm undertones make them ideal for bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms where you want to create a cozy and inviting ambience. They also give walls a nice glow in spaces with low natural light.

Some popular off-white and warm white paint colors include:

– Benjamin Moore White Dove
– Sherwin-Williams Alabaster
– Behr Creamy
– Valspar Wisp of Nether

Cool Whites

Cool whites have subtle blue, green, or gray undertones that give them a crisp, clean look. They are brighter than off-whites but not as stark as true whites. Cool whites work wonderfully to make small spaces appear larger and airier. Their light reflective quality also helps brighten up rooms with low light. The barely perceptible cool undertone adds a sense of tranquility to bedrooms, bathrooms, and vacation homes.

Some widely used cool white paint colors are:

– Benjamin Moore Simply White
– Sherwin-Williams Pure White
– Behr White Metal
– Valspar Secluded Path

Accessible Whites

Accessible whites like eggshell whites and cream whites have a higher depth of color than most whites. Along with white pigment, they also contain a small percentage of gray, brown, or beige pigments. Accessible whites are easy on the eyes and create a soothing backdrop in living spaces. Their versatility allows them to be combined with other colors without clashing. They are great choices for hallways, living rooms, and bedrooms.

Some popular accessible whites include:

– Benjamin Moore Classic Gray
– Sherwin-Williams Accessible Beige
– Behr Accessible Cream
– Valspar Totally Zen

Factors to Consider When Choosing White Paint

Amount of Natural Light

The quantity and quality of natural light a room receives significantly affects how white paint colors are perceived. North-facing rooms with little natural light do better with warm or accessible whites like Swiss Coffee or Navajo White. The warm undertones make the space feel welcoming instead of dreary. South-facing bright rooms can take full advantage of clean true whites like White Dove. Darker shades like Vanilla Ice Cream suit east/west facing rooms that receive moderate sun.

Room Size

True whites and lighter off-whites are great for creating an illusion of spaciousness in small rooms. The higher the gloss and reflectiveness of the paint, the larger the room will seem. Small rooms can also handle bold true whites like Gloss White which may overwhelm in a bigger room. Medium-sized and large rooms look fabulous dressed in warmer off-whites like Linen White or Alabaster. The soft colors balance the expansive space beautifully.

Flooring and Furnishings

White walls provide a crisp backdrop that lets the floors and furnishings take centerstage. Cool-toned grays, blues, and greens stand out against warm white backdrops. Warm white paints complement cherry, maple, and oak wood furniture. Coordinating white paint shade with the undertones of the floors creates a soothing unified aesthetic. Whites with the same undertones as furnishings and floors will give the room a seamless look.

Desired Ambiance

The vibe you wish to create narrows down the selection of white paint shades. Crisp true whites usher in an airy casual ambiance while accessible whites exude cozy charm. Warm whites create traditional laidback spaces that are still bright. Cool whites lend modern flair and a sharply refreshing feel. Before choosing a white, decide the atmosphere suited for the room’s functionality.

Best White Paint Colors for Different Rooms

Let’s look at some specific whites excellently suited for certain rooms:


Alabaster Sherwin-Williams
White Dove Benjamin Moore
Wind’s Breath Behr
Swiss Coffee Valspar

Bedrooms need to exude tranquility and comfort so warm off-whites or accessible whites work best. Go for hues like Alabaster, White Dove, Wind’s Breath, or Swiss Coffee as they create a cozy, welcoming bedroom. The warmer tones are relaxing and do not overstimulate. They also make the room feel snuggly and romantic.


Chantilly Lace Benjamin Moore
Pure White Sherwin-Williams
White Metal Behr
Frostwork Valspar

Kitchens demand shades like Chantilly Lace, Pure White, White Metal, or Frostwork that uplift without feeling sterile. These crisp whites with barely noticeable cool undertones augment the sleek modern aesthetic of contemporary kitchens. They also counterbalance dramatic colors of appliances and cookware making them ideal for minimalist kitchens.


Simply White Benjamin Moore
Extra White Sherwin-Williams
Ultra Pure White Behr
Marshmallow Valspar

For bathrooms, the cleanest true whites like Simply White, Extra White, Ultra Pure White, and Marshmallow are perfect. Their high light reflective quality makes small bathrooms appear more expansive. The starkness keeps the space looking spotlessly fresh. Vibrant bath accessories pop against these true white backdrops.

Living Rooms

White Dove Benjamin Moore
Snowbound Sherwin-Williams
Sleek White Behr
Totally Zen Valspar

Living room whites need to straddle comfort and vibrancy. Off-whites like White Dove, Snowbound, Sleek White, and Totally Zen add cheer without overwhelming. These relaxed whites provide enough luminance to keep the room feeling airy and energetic. Their subtle warmth also creates an inviting vibe perfect for lounging and entertaining.


Choosing the most flattering white involves assessing the room’s lighting, dimensions, furnishings, and desired ambiance. Clean, ethereal true whites work best in dark or small rooms. Cozy off-whites and accessible whites are wonderful for medium to large rooms and provide a welcoming charm. Cool whites lend an airy, refreshing modernity. Bedrooms benefit from relaxing warm hues while bathrooms and kitchens require clean, light true whites. With stunning options from Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, Behr, and Valspar, you’ll definitely find your perfect shade of white!