Choosing the right shade of white paint can be a big challenge. It’s highly reflective so you have to consider the other elements in the room. Accent walls, wood tones, bold furnishings, ceiling color, light bulb color temperatures, even the direction the windows are facing (and possibly what’s outside those windows) can all affect the color. White paint is also notorious for having subtle undertones (they’re actually hue families) lurking in it that tend to be magnified once they’re on the wall.
And in case you haven’t noticed yet, white walls are trending right now. Color popularity shifts about every 5 to 7 years. With grays and taupes starting to see a decline, white walls are on the rise.
Tip: If you’re painting your walls white, consider painting the trim, cabinets, and ceiling the same color but in different sheens.
When choosing white paint for your home, start by picking up a few actual paper swatches from the store (or get them from one of our Color Consultations). Next, hang them up and compare them in your own home. Don’t ever make a paint decision based solely on a swatch you only looked at while in the store, online, saw in your friend’s house, or read about in a blog post!
…and Now, The Paint Colors…
My hope is that this blog post will help point you in the right direction and at least eliminate the colors that won’t work for you. With that in mind, here are a few of my top favorite white paint choices to use when selling your home:
Benjamin Moore White Dove OC 17
Benjamin Moore White Dove OC 17 is a soft, warm off-white. It’s a classic versatile color that has almost a gray-brown feel (not yellow or creamy). This paint works well with a variety of warm and cool colors without being too stark or bright. It’s also a favorite choice for doors, ceilings, and trim. The cabinets in the photo below are painted in White Dove:
Sherwin-Williams Alabaster 7008
Sherwin-Williams Alabaster 7008 is a great off-white that’s just a little bit softer and more subtle without being too yellow or creamy. The warmest of the whites I chose, it works really well in homes with lots of earth tones. Whereas many whites are used primarily as a trim color, Alabaster works just as well on large areas as it does on small ones. Because it’s still neutral with just a hint of warmth, it works especially well in rooms with a southern exposure. Conversely, it may look a bit lackluster in rooms with north-facing windows. Learn more in our paint color review for Alabaster.
The walls and ceiling of this beautiful kitchen are SW 7008 Alabaster
Sherwin-Williams Pure White 7005
Sherwin-Williams Pure White 7005 is similar to Alabaster in that it’s a great neutral base with just a tiny hint of warmth. It’s a little crisper than Alabaster and works really well in both warm- and cool-toned homes as a trim, ceiling, and cabinet color. It reads a little warmer in rooms with a southern exposure, while north-facing windows diminish that effect a bit. The perimeter cabinets in this stunning kitchen remodel are in SW 7005 Pure White.
Sherwin-Williams Extra White 7006
Sherwin-Williams Extra White 7006 is considered by many designers to be the whitest white in the SW palette. My personal opinion is that it reads a just little more on the cool side. This often makes it a better choice for homes that feature grays, blues, silver tones, and espresso-colored woods. As a trim color, it doesn’t pair up quite as well next to warm or earth tones as Alabaster or Pure White. Extra White is a clean, crisp color that works great for homes that have a more contemporary feel. In rooms with a northern exposure, you may see a bit more iciness in the color. The light from a south-facing room may neutralize this effect (during daylight hours, anyway).
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC 65
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65 is a crisp, clean white with a bit of an icy edge. It pairs well with cool-toned colors, particularly blues. It may look a little stark in rooms with a northern exposure. The walls of this gorgeous bathroom are painted in Chantilly Lace:
Sherwin-Williams High Reflective White 7757
Sherwin-Williams High Reflective White 7757 is one of the brightest (meaning: reflects the most light) paint colors on the market. It has a Light Reflectance Value (LRV) of 93 which may make it a little too stark for kitchens and baths with white quartz or marble countertops. Otherwise, it’s a fairly flexible color that works great in homes that have a mix of tones. Learn more in our High Reflective White paint color review.
All cabinetry and wood work in this kitchen was done in SW 7757 High Reflective White in a low lustre.
Need Help Choosing a Color?
If you’re having a hard time choosing the right color, let us help! The right color can transform a room! Let us help you reinvent your space with paint. Three Bears Home Staging has extensive training and experience with interior and exterior color consultations. Whether it’s for an interior or exterior space, we’ll help you create a custom color palette. Watch this quick video to learn more about our Virtual Color Consultation Reports, then click below to get started!
One Room Paint Color Report | Virtual
Need help choosing the best paint colors for your room? Then this is the (virtual) service for you! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for you. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Click below to learn how it works or to get started!
Exterior Paint Color Report | Virtual
Ready to give your home exterior a fresh new look, but feeling overwhelmed with the decision? Get a little virtual help from the color experts at Three Bears Home Staging! Based on your on your questionnaire responses and uploaded photos, we’ll create a personalized digital Paint Color Report just for your home’s exterior. We’ll also send you paint swatches! Read below to learn how it works…
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8 thoughts on “Our 6 Favorite White Paints for Selling Your Home”
I am having a dilemma choosing between SW Pure White and HRW. We have an open concept kitchen and kitchen cabinets are currently painted in HRW. I love this color – even better than Pure White! – on the cabinets and kind of struggling to decide on whether we should paint trim, baseboards and doors in HRW. The main reason for this is that the walls are painted in Pure White. We kind of like Pure White for its softness and “just right” bright atmosphere it creates. So, my worry is that if we paint all the trim, baseboards and doors in HRW it will make Pure White dingy or “dirty”. On the other hand, if we paint the trim and baseboards in Pure White it will look discoordinated with HRW kitchen cabinets. We even started thinking to paint the walls in Repose Gray so we did not have to choose between HRM and Pure White. But even if we did that, we would still like to keep at least 30% of this open space in white. Half of our great room, hallway and foyer – have mainly western exposure – and this is the side we consider either leave it as Pure White or paint in HRW, including trim and baseboards. The eastern side of this open space is made up of second half of great room and kitchen. Our current plan is to pain this part of open space in Repose Gray. What would you recommend we should do in this situation? Thank you so much!
I would not recommend combining SW Pure White and SW High Reflective White because they are too close in chroma.
Essentially, they are too similar in “colorfulness/vividness” to properly contrast with one another. SW High Reflective White is a very neutral white, Green-Yellow hue family, and low chroma (C=2.26). SW Pure White belongs to the Yellow hue family and has more chroma (C=4.07) compared to HRW. Generally speaking, there should be a chroma difference greater than 2 to avoid having one paint look dingy or yellow next to the other. (I break down what this means and how to find these values in my Color By The Numbers™ online course).
There are white trim/white wall combinations that can work, but there must be a bigger difference in chroma. For example, SW Greek Villa (LCh°=6.20) is a beautiful, but significantly more colorful white that would play well with HRW.
You may want to consider using HRW for all surfaces but vary the sheen or finish (satin on trim and cabinets, eggshell, or flat on walls) to give the space a little more dimension and definition. That being said, HRW can be a pretty stark white for some walls, in my opinion. I like your idea of going with Repose Gray instead.
Also, I recommend choosing the specific type of SW paint that you want to use first, as this color sometimes has limited availability. Get the product with the best hide for coverage and ask your paint pro how to prime the walls for the best effect. Lastly, TEST, TEST, TEST! Compare swatches or paint samples of the actual color in the space you intend to use it, evaluate the lighting, etc. BEFORE you start painting.
Ultimately, YOU have to like what it looks like with the colors you want to pair it with. Is it pretty? Do you love it? That’s what really matters in the end. Happy painting!
Is high reflective white good for walls?
Hi Laura! High Reflective White is indeed a beautiful white paint color, but in many spaces, it can feel a bit too stark or sterile for a wall color (especially in rooms that get a lot of direct sunlight). Hope that helps!
I chose the following combination of colors for our 2nd home in Sarasota and am now second-guessing myself. I don’t currently live there but chose them while I was there. The flooring is a warm brown wood tone, the counters and backsplash primarily a warm being tile (in fact the whole house was beige, beige, brown–which I couldn’t stand but right now I can’t change everything.) What I can change is all the cabinets (which were a medium brown color–oak?
) doors, beautiful trim work, and wall colors. The kitchen, DR and LR have only northern exposure. My 2 couches are a light mushroom leather, cocktail table, side tables, console, dr table are kind of a driftwood color (mix of blue/green/gray/cool brown tones.) Bar stools and dr chair seats upholstered in an ivory linen. I chose SW high reflective white for all cabinets, trims and doors and BM Sweet Spring for kitchen, DR, LR, foyer and hallway walls. What do you think of that combination? I was going to go with BM simply white as the white but next to Sweet Spring, it made it look cooler while high reflective white made it look warmer and I wanted sweet spring to look warmer with the northern light. I was thinking of painting the 2 offices the same BM Sweet spring (1 office has both northern and southern exposure; the other has primarily northern exposure with a tiny narrow eastern exposure window.) Thank you for your help.
Hi Cynthia! I would use caution with that combination given the warm tones of your home. This is a great example of how we can literally use the science of color to explain what we’re seeing. BM Sweet Spring has a hue angle of 105°, putting in the Yellow Hue Family with a strong hue bias toward green (meaning it is right next to green on the color wheel — a cooler color). BM Simply White has a very similar hue angle at 106°, so same Hue Family and hue bias (also making it a good complement for Sweet Spring). SW High Reflective, by comparison, has a hue angle of 115°, placing it squarely in the Green-Yellow Hue Family. It’s a cooler cool than BM Simply White, which is why it’s making Sweet Spring look warm by comparison. I teach you how to find this information in my Color By the Numbers online course — it’s super handy to understand how to access it). My thoughts are that all of those colors may be a bit too “cool” for a warm-toned home. I’d recommend a warmer white and wall color combination. Take a look at my Virtual Color Consultations if you’d like some specific recommendations. I hope that helps, and happy painting!
Loved all of your great tips on whites! I am doing a new build & will live in 1300 sq ft guesthouse in So Cal wine country.,
Move in date mid January!(my son & family will live in main house) I will be doing all white walls, cabs, doors etc & have very light wide plank wood tile floors marble countertops it’s an open concept kitchen/great room..will have GE cafe series white matte appliances..will bring color in with furnishings & rugs..thinking staying same whites on all different sheens..contenders are:SW Pure White, Extra White, High reflective white, or Behr UltraPure white..would love your thoughts! Thank you so much, Diane
I love a white kitchen! I’d say the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re going with white appliances is that you should avoid cream, off-white, or warm white colors for your cabinets. White appliances are definitely “cool” and will clash/bring out the undertones of cabinets painted these colors, making them look dingy or gray. So ideally you’ll probably want to choose a “color” or a “true” white for the cabinets. SW High Reflective is a good place to start. BM Chantilly Lace and SW Extra White are also good, but may feel a bit icy. SW Pure White is a touch less stark.
The best way to decide is to take large scales samples of the actual color (either paint your own onto a piece of posterboard or cheap canvas, order from Samplize, or get some as part of one of our Color Consultations) and hang those samples vertically on the wall to compare. Good luck!