The Writer and Residence

Finding the perfect warm white: 5 designers weigh in

As I promised earlier this week, here are five designer picks for the perfect warm white paint (in no particular order). Which one did I choose for my master bedroom redo? Read on to find out!

1. Benjamin Moore Creamy White. This was architect Bill Ingram‘s go-to color for the walls of his Mountain Brook Cottage featured in the August 2011 issues of House Beautiful. To make his 1,400-square foot cottage feel more expansive, Ingram used Benjamin Moore’s Creamy White throughout the house, which he notes “comes off as white, but very warm.”

2. Lindsay Bierman, Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living magazine, recommends Benjamin Moore Ivory White for when “you just want a room to be ‘warm white,’ meaning not too yellow or too peachy or too anything else.” When it comes to choosing the right white for the space, Bierman exhorts folks: “Don’t overthink this—I’ve already done enough agonizing for everyone, and I can say for sure that it works pretty much anywhere, unless you’re going for museum-like sterility…” I think we can take his word for it—witness this gorgeous room in Ivory White via Traditional Home:

3. Benjamin Moore White Down. Here is an inspiration photo from Philip Mitchell Design via Canadian House & Home. I love the ease of this room, and how it manages to be fresh and warm at the same time, due in large part to the wall color. There’s something about this color that puts me in mind of the froth of a cappuccino—the perfect warming pick-me-up.

4. Benjamin Moore Elmira White is Brad Ford‘s pick. It has subtle warmth with a modern edge, as evidenced by this West Elm photo:

On the appeal of Elmira White, Ford notes: “This is one of my favorite hues because it’s both warm and bright without being too cheery. It’s a perfect blend of beige and gray and will complement literally any color palette you choose to introduce in the room. You can’t wrong with this one.”

5. Benjamin Moore Linen White. Celerie Kemble, in her latest book, Black & White (and a Bit in Between), describes Linen White as “[a]bsolutely classic. A bit warm and not overly crisp, meaning it never looks brand new. Fades into the background, offering support to the other colors in the room. My kitchen cabinets are linen white, since I wanted the room to look lived in instantly.” Here is an inspiration photo of a modern bedroom in Linen White—so clean looking yet cozy:

For quick reference, below is a recap of our short list for warm whites (all Benjamin Moore):

  • Creamy White (OC-7)
  • Ivory White (CC-925)
  • White Down (OC-131)
  • Elmira White (HC-84)
  • Linen White (CC-912)

So which did I end up choosing for my master bedroom painting project?

It was a toughie, but in the end I went with Celerie Kemble’s pick, Linen White, to give much-needed warmth and brightness to my bedroom. Now that the hard part’s over, all that’s left to do is actually paint!

Which of these appeals to you most? Do you have another favorite “no-fail” warm white to add to the list? I’d love to know, I’m always looking to expand my repertoire!

Anna xo

P.S. You may have noticed that the paints on my list are all Benjamin Moore—this wasn’t a conscious decision, but when I have a painting project on the horizon I always find myself coming back to their classic colors fandeck for inspiration!

52 Comments

  1. [...] The room still feels a little spartan, but I plan to add several things to help cozy it up and personalize it down the line. But please believe me when I tell you that this room has come a long way! It has morphed from a dull yellow (the original color at move-in) to a gray (when I got caught up in the whole “greige” trend; more on that here), to its current “Creamy White” (Benjamin Moore OC-7). With this latest coat of paint on the walls, the room feels light, bright, but still warm. I am really pleased with how it turned out. My choice of paint for this room was inspired by Bill Ingram’s home featured in House Beautiful. You can read more about how to choose the perfect warm white paint for your room here. [...]

  2. [...] white paint resources: Ruth Burts Interiors – She describes the undertones of whites. Writer & Residence – Five designers share their favorite shades of white. Carolina Interior Works – The color white [...]

  3. Barbara Fritsche
    July 19, 2013

    Very Helpful Thank you!
    Barbara Fritsche

  4. terri
    August 26, 2013
  5. Michele
    November 29, 2013

    Thank you thank you Lindsay Bierman! Choosing paint IS agonizing for me! I have it in my head what I want but never seems to come out right until now. Your comment was dead on. I would have sampled my time and money away. Ivory white is perfect!

  6. […] Writer & Residence – Five designers share their favorite shades of white. […]

  7. toby
    January 22, 2014

    How do you match wall color /whites with hardwood floors? We’re considering pecan floors.

    • writer&residence
      January 22, 2014

      Hi Toby, pecan hardwood floors sound lovely! I think a warm white makes for a great backdrop for hardwood floors–it helps bring out their warmth. Here’s a link to an article which you may find helpful:

      http://homeguides.sfgate.com/match-wood-tones-wall-colors-49249.html

      I would also suggest taking a look at Houzz (I’m seriously addicted!) as a source for ideas. A quick search of sample photos with the phrase “pecan hardwood flooring” yielded two inspirational views of kitchens that incorporate warm white on the walls and white cabinetry:

      http://www.houzz.com/photos/2263421/Mandeville-House-traditional-kitchen-los-angeles
      http://www.houzz.com/photos/1810467/Westlake-Residence-traditional-kitchen-austin

      Finally, I’d suggest picking up sample paint chips that appeal to you and putting them on the wall (or alongside your flooring samples) and living with them for a while. I’ve learned the hard way that something that looks great online or in a magazine might not necessarily work in my own context. I think the best option is narrowing down your favorites, maybe your top three, purchasing samples of each so you can see a larger section of the wall in each color, and then seeing how they change throughout the day. Don’t rush it, and choose what you love. Good luck!

  8. […] Writer & Residence – Five designers share their favorite shades of white. […]

  9. Name *
    March 25, 2014
  10. Shannon
    March 30, 2014

    What about a white for a dark kitchen, southwestern house with terracotta floor. The rest of the house walls including right next to the kitchen is a light warm tan. Thank you!!!!!

    • writer&residence
      March 30, 2014

      Hi Shannon! Here are some ideas:

      Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee on the walls and cabinets paired with terra cotta floor tiles. Gorgeous:
      http://houzz.com/photos/458469

      This photo has a real Southwestern feel–BM Dove Wing on the walls. Really crisp, yet warm:
      http://houzz.com/photos/763153

      My fiance’s favorite warm white (and he’s a designer) is Benjamin Moore’s Navajo White, which is a more muted white, very warm. Here it is with some terra cotta hex tile. I love the effect:
      http://houzz.com/photos/189018

      And here is Navajo White paired with dark kitchen cabinetry. I’m totally in love with this kitchen:
      http://pinterest.com/pin/2744449743728331/

      I think all of these options could play well with the warm tans you have in your adjoining rooms. I hope this helps! Thanks for your question!

  11. Becca
    April 5, 2014

    Hi. I would love to use linen white and silver sage in my house. The kitchen and great room are combined. How should I plan on painting and do you think these colors will go well with each other

    • writer&residence
      April 6, 2014

      Hi Becca, thanks for your question. BM’s silver sage is really lovely–a very muted, soothing color. I looked at it against linen white using my trusty Classic Colors fan deck, and I think the two pair well. My mother, who is a painter, is a fan of cool/warm contrast–it kind of keeps things balanced, for lack of a better word, and this pairing would give you that. That said, I’m a big proponent of buying paint samples to see whether you like the colors in situ–everyone’s light is so different, and it can have such a big effect on how the color reads in your house. I’ve picked up paint chips at the store thinking I’ve got a winner, but when I get back home it somehow doesn’t look the same! Especially since you’re planning to paint what sounds like a larger area–kitchen and great room combined–I would definitely take your time and test out some samples.

      If you’re thinking about this color combo, there are lots of nice options to consider. For me, continuity is really important. And I think that becomes even more of a consideration in adjoining spaces. You want the spaces to feel related so there is a smooth flow from kitchen to great room.

      You could paint the walls in both rooms silver sage and use linen white for your trim and cabinetry. I ran across this kitchen on Houzz a few weeks ago, and I loved it because it felt crisp and the kitchen and family room felt visually connected, creating that continuity that makes things feels pulled together. I know this is a greener green than silver sage, but it still gives you a flavor of how this design option could work:

      http://houzz.com/photos/353106

      Here is a shot of what I believe to be, according to Houzz, the exact combo we’re talking about: Linen white cabinets alongside silver sage walls. Gorgeous:

      http://houzz.com/photos/441225

      Another option would be to go with white on the walls, using silver sage as more of an accent. I love this look — light walls, light upper cabinets, and silvery green lower cabs. I think it has a really clean and sophisticated (yet homey) vibe:

      http://houzz.com/photos/391391

      Or you could just go for it and do all the cabinets, uppers and lowers, in silver sage for a more traditional look. This kitchen makes me think of Martha Stewart. Very lovely:

      http://houzz.com/photos/2601095

      I hope this helps, Becca! Good luck with your project!

  12. Summgardner
    April 10, 2014

    I will be painting master bedroom and have just set up a new bed with a dark brown leather tufted headboard to go with my dark cherry bureau. I have different style bed tables but they also are dark wood. I now have white walls and trim and white bedding. I would like to keep white walls and plan on having wall to wall wool sisal in a natural color carpeting. What white colors would you suggest for both the walls and trim? We live on the coast so I would like to keep colors neutral and light and plan to use white and navy accents. Thanks for any help!

    • writer&residence
      April 11, 2014

      Hi Summgardner, thank you for your comment. First just let me say I’m slightly jealous of your sisal carpeting! I love how this all sounds!

      This is my inspiration photo for you–it incorporates a lot of the elements in your plan–natural fiber flooring, white and navy accents (plus lovely coral accents), dark furniture finishes and light walls. This definitely feels coastal to me. Relaxed elegance at its best. They’ve done something a little different here by going lighter with the wall color and slightly darker with the trim. I love the effect, and think you could achieve something similar with BM “White Down” on the walls and “Olympic Mountains” on the trim:

      http://houzz.com/photos/326260

      Here is another white–White Dove. Here it’s combined with a darker wood dining table. Lovely, clean, and crisp:

      http://houzz.com/photos/98664

      I also love the idea of using the same color on the wall and trim to make a space feel light and breezy, modern and fresh. Here is White Dove again with a navy scheme and natural fiber elements:

      http://houzz.com/photos/2004021

      Other whites you may want to try:

      Navajo white (great with dark furniture):

      http://houzz.com/photos/99915

      http://houzz.com/photos/5448431 (more coastal vibe)

      Maritime white (warm white that pairs well with navy, a “seaside neutral”):

      http://houzz.com/photos/2409533

      http://houzz.com/photos/869018

      I hope this helps! Good luck with your project; it sounds just lovely.

  13. Chanel
    May 1, 2014

    Hi! Love your post!

    I am doing a room into my closet. I have bamboo wood floors and closet will be white. I want to make it chic and classic so got a zebra rug and getting a mirrored vanity.

    I need a recommendation on the paints. Wanted a warm chic white and was thinking one small wall pale pale pink. I would love to get your recommendations :)

    What whites and what pinks if you recommend it?

    Thanks so much!!!

    • writer&residence
      May 1, 2014

      Hi Chanel! Thanks so much!

      This room sounds like it will be very chic and glam! I think the challenge will be finding a sophisticated, not too girly pink.

      Here are some recommendations for your pale pink wall:
      Benjamin Moore Ionic Column (from the Classic Colors palette). Barely-there very grown-up pink:
      http://houzz.com/photos/1613052

      I also love this inspiration photo. It incorporates some black accents (I’m thinking of your zebra rug), which look great with the pale pink walls. Ralph Lauren Rose Garden White:
      http://houzz.com/photos/271309

      I’m also liking BM Mellow Pink for its soft grey undertones. Really pretty:
      http://houzz.com/photos/1588559
      And here:
      http://houzz.com/photos/86916

      I couldn’t find a photo, but I also really like Ben Moore’s Evening White.

      Here is a link to a helpful post on pale pinks:
      http://paintedroom.com/2011/07/the-palest-of-pinks/

      For whites, you may want to try for a more pink undertone to harmonize with your pink accent wall. I’d try Antique White or Alabaster (Benjamin Moore). I think Linen White would work well too. But as always, I would recommend trying samples first before you commit to see how everything works together in your space. :)

      I hope this helps! Thanks again for you comment!

      • Chanel
        May 2, 2014

        Thanks for your reply! One more question I promise!:

        If I wanted to do accents of pink instead of painting a wall and the closet will be white, what warm white colors would you recommend?

        I am not a huge fan of cream undertones, I like more purple or blue but def don’t want the room to look cold.

        Thank you again for your help :)

        • writer&residence
          May 3, 2014

          Hi Chanel — if you want to avoid cream undertones, I would recommend decorators white (more of a neutral white without being too cold), cloud cover (grey undertone), cloud white (also tends more toward grey).

          Another color you may want to try is BM Soft Chamois. It reads like a white and again has more grey undertones. This apartment featured in House Beautiful uses Soft Chamois on the walls–I love this look:
          http://www.housebeautiful.com/decorating/hollywood-regency-rental-apartment-0510#slide-1

          Hope this helps!

  14. Jan
    May 9, 2014

    Great post and helpful responses. Entire kitchen renovation planning in progress with custom kitchens and hoping to get advice. We are leaning towards a creamy white paint on perimeter and espresso stain island. Contrast with dark brown countertops and wood floors. Choosing the white paint is overwhelming. Our designer suggests Dove White. I’m not convinced that it isn’t too white for what we are trying to achieve. Here is one kitchen we keep coming back to: http://www.houzz.com/photos/2794401
    Your suggestions and feedback would be appreciated!

  15. […] 1. Creamy White […]

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    May 19, 2014

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  17. Mcg
    June 17, 2014

    I am painting a basement, trim and cabinets in an apartment that gets limited sunlight. Which Benjamin Moore white would work well in a room with limited sunlight with a light beige carpet? My painter is rec linen white. Would this work well or would it look dark and drab in the apt. I would like to brighten up the space some and would love to hear your suggestions. If you have any ideas for the kitchen cabinets please share also. What do you think of simply white for a dark space?

    • writer&residence
      June 17, 2014

      Hi Mcg!

      I say if Simply White works for the space, go for it! I’m a big fan of Simply White. Trina used it in the kitchen in her old house and I’m still in love with it:
      http://acountryfarmhouse.blogspot.com/2010/01/white-silver-and-wood.html

      The Nester also repainted her living room with Simply White and it looks so fresh and pretty:
      http://www.thenester.com/2012/01/i-went-white.html

      I think you really need to go with your gut, and see how the color looks in that basement kitchen. While I love Simply White, it simply doesn’t work in my house–in my light it feels a bit too stark. However, in your basement kitchen which you say doesn’t have a lot of light, you may need to compensate and go for a brighter, whiter white like Simply White. If Linen White feels too dark and drab in your space, it probably is. If your carpeting is beige, linen white might read as too warm or yellow. The contrast of a brighter and more neutral white will probably give you more of the “fresher” feel you crave.

      One idea for the cabinets would be to keep things all the same shade to heighten the feeling of the walls and make the room seem taller. I recently painted the walls, built-in bookcases, and ceiling of my study all the same color (for this room, I chose Divine White by Sherman Williams). The study has lower ceilings than the rest of the rooms in the house, so this approach really helped make the room feel more expansive. If you are facing a similar issue in your basement kitchen, this might be something to consider. Also, if your goal is to really brighten up the space, this would definitely help.

      Layla from TLC is painting her kitchen cabs Simply White (she paired it with a lightened version of BM Gray Owl on the walls) and it’s looking fab:
      http://theletteredcottage.net/cottage-style-kitchen-update/

      Good luck and thanks for your question!

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    June 30, 2014

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  19. Sheryl
    June 30, 2014

    Hi, I’m updating my kitchen and am changing everything except the wall color, which is a cheery yellow (similar to yellow lotus). I am doing dark wood floors, black granite counter tops and off white cabinets. I am considering linen white for the cabinets as it’s warm and will be next to the yellow walls. Any thoughts on whether this would be the best “off white” for my cabinets? Going for the traditional black/white kitchen with a splash of warmth on the walls. Thanks for any advice you have!

  20. Bea
    July 3, 2014

    Great article thanks so much!! Were re painting our house which is all sprayed a flat white– just white dunn Edwards. We have slim coated walls and ceilings. I’m stuck on linen white or white down– we have polished concrete floors which are more gray than tan. I want to paint baseboards same color as walls with just different sheen. And the ceiling lighter but not really contrasting the walls. So my questions are –
    1.White down or linen white??- (pretty good amount natural light – have whites light grey and black and denim kinda colors — industrial country style? Lol
    2. Ceiling color for either of these? Cloud white? White dove? Or I’ve read mixing wall for at 10-20%?
    Thanks for your time! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

    • writer&residence
      July 3, 2014

      Hi Bea! Thank you so much!

      First, I like your strategy of sticking with the same color on the walls and baseboards and just doing a different finish. I’m doing the same thing right now in my master bath–I’m using Linen White in eggshell on the walls, and the satin finish on the trim. I love the effect: it’s unified and more modern-looking, but the different finishes add a little bit of dimension so it doesn’t get boring. It gives the room an airiness that it didn’t have before.

      Now, in terms of color. Obviously, I love both colors. Without having seen your space, but just going on your description, this is what I would say: if you want less contrast, more of a monochromatic feel, then White Down may be a better bet. I’m looking at all the colors above White Down and below it on that particular color strip in my fan deck, and there are definite warm gray undertones there. This may harmonize a bit better with your (more gray) concrete floors and your existing color palette–those light grays, blacks and denims (industrial country–I love it!). As for the ceiling color, I would then go with Cloud White, which is the very lightest tone on that color strip. Then you are assured that everything harmonizes.

      That’s not saying that Linen White couldn’t work–if you feel that you want to play up a cool/warm contrast, then Linen White will probably feel “warmer” than White Down in your space because it has that creamy undertone. If you went with this option, then on the ceiling I would go with the standard BM white, and then ask them to tint it with your Linen White–again, so you create continuity with the walls. I’ve used this approach before–I’m afraid I don’t know the exact percentages–but I’m guessing it’s close to your formula above….

      So that’s my two cents! :) Hope it helps a little bit. Thanks again!

      • Bea
        July 4, 2014

        Thanks so much for the reply, wanted to just let you know it’s so nice you take the time to help!

        I’m happy to hear you are also doing all one color, many of friends didn’t get it at all ;) but they aren’t really into design they think I’m crazy I can’t just pick a white it all looks the same to them when I’m seeing all sorts of undertones in them ;)

        Question in ceiling do you do even the bathroom ceiling flat? My husband thinks it should be glossier…

        I think I will go with white down I really love them both equally so it’s really killing me this decision! Just to verify though, you’d still consider a “warm” white?

        Well your blog is wonderful and I love that room you just posted the farmhouse style with the I think for the alabaster color! I wish I could add some wood planks in here! That home is similiar in style to my taste, it took me a while to really grow into my decorating style! I wish I knew what I liked when we purchased our home and I wouldn’t be redoing so much!
        My inspiration pics are from the schoolhouse electric shops spring catalog you can see it online if you’re interested- the catalog tabs are on bottom of their website!
        Your home sounds wonderful and I look forward to following your blog! Thanks again!

        • writer&residence
          July 4, 2014

          Thanks for your sweet comment, Bea! That’s really nice of you!

          You are not crazy at all for taking your time in picking a white. It is hard! There are so many variables to consider. I want to emphasize that I’m just sharing ideas and considerations–things that I’ve run into myself after painting my house over the last five years (and I’m still going!). You, though, are the ultimate arbiter and must choose your design destiny, so to speak. :) Even within the same house, the same white may not work in multiple rooms. I mentioned I was painting my master bath Linen White–I love it! But when I tried it in my guest bath, which has strong late-afternoon light and a floor with white and black tiles (the white tiles have a lot of gray in them), it wasn’t quite right. For the guest bath, I’m thinking I’ll go back to the White Down color strip, and try those variations for walls, beadboard and trim. They seem to work better. Yes, White Down is definitely warm, but it has that little hint of gray in the undertone. When I was thinking about your description of “industrial country,” many of the colors you mention (denim, gray, black) show up in the sample photo of White Down I included in the post–and they definitely seem to work well together.

          If you want to be extra confident, buy samples and compare to the two. It is helpful to see a broader space on the wall painted. It will def. help you choose. And give you peace of mind. :)

          As far as the ceiling finish: generally, I try to go for the least shine in my finishes that is practical for the application. I have a house that was built in the 1920s, so there are little imperfections that I’d prefer to mask. This means I go for Flat (or matte) finish on the ceiling, satin on trim, eggshell on walls (I have a dog so I need the ease of cleaning; otherwise, I’d go for flat). I like flatter finishes personally because they seem “quieter” to me.

          That said, if you have nice smooth ceilings, there is no reason not to go for a little sheen, if that’s what you want. Here’s a link that you and your husband might find interesting. Joan from For the Love of a House uses BM Pearl finish on her ceilings–the reason being that it gives a sense of greater height to the room:
          http://fortheloveofahouse.blogspot.com/2012/07/favorite-detail-ceilings-with-sheen.html

          It’s great that you have a strong sense of your decorating style. I feel like mine has really evolved since buying my house. It’s extremely satisfying when your house begins to reflect your personal style and you really feel that you have put your “stamp” on it. I will check out the Schoolhouse Electric catalog–thank you! I like their products a lot. Rejuvenation, too, has some nice things. Yay for made in the USA! Speaking of which, Happy 4th! I will be spending mine painting. :)

          Good luck with your project, Bea!

  21. Lindsey
    July 3, 2014

    Great article. Would love to know what you think of Sherwin Williams Alabaster and how it compares with the whites listed here.

    Thanks!

    • writer&residence
      July 3, 2014

      Thanks, Lindsey! I have not seen SW Alabaster in person; however, I just did a quick troll through some Houzz photos, and I have to say it looks lovely. The trim in this family room is Alabaster:
      http://houzz.com/photos/470486
      As is the trim and cabinetry in this really pretty bathroom:
      http://houzz.com/photos/470502

      In terms of how it compares to the whites here. Again, without having seen it in person, but based on what I’m seeing in the photos–It’s warm, but it also feels more like a brighter, whiter white. A milky white, maybe? It definitely feels slightly less muted to me, more on the crisper side of warm white, if that makes any sense? This photo that shows it on the walls of a mud room is a good example of what I mean:
      http://houzz.com/photos/471655
      Also this photo of a farmhouse interior, you really get a sense of it:
      http://houzz.com/photos/11783805

      I would say it’s a contender if you want a warm but “brighter” white effect.

      Thanks for sharing your comment!

      • Lindsey
        July 5, 2014

        Thanks so much. After seeing this article, I was thinking the same thing and wondering if I should go with something a little less bright. I think I’ll have to put some on the wall and see. Thanks!

        • writer&residence
          July 5, 2014

          Sure! I think testing it on the wall is a great idea. “When in doubt, test it out.” :) I learned the hard way!

  22. Brittany
    July 22, 2014

    Hello! I just moved into my very first home and i’m very excited yet extremely confused over paint colors. The spare bedroom in the house is very small with two small windows. It actually gets a decent amount of light for such a small space. The problem is that the bed and dresser for this room are a very dark espresso color, except for the white nightstand beside the bed and the beige/creamy headboard fabric that the espresso wood surrounds. The dark wood makes the room look even smaller in my opinion. The bedding is an all white ruched shabby chic duvet with very feminine pillows covering it in both cream and white. I also have a lot of white accents mixed with champagne gold glitzy accents scattered around the room. Also, the carpet in the room is a drab beige color but I plan to put a faux fur rug near the bed to break it up a bit. In hopes to make the room look larger I want to go with a white wall, but what white should I choose for this space? I tend to feel more comfortable and at home when the walls aren’t too stark white, but if a stark white wall will make the room look better than I’m all for it. If I do a white wall what color paint would be best for the ceiling and closet in your opinion? Could I even do a darker warmer color on the ceiling or would that make the room look even smaller?
    I’d love to hear your opinions! This is an awesome site, I’m so glad I found it:)

    • writer&residence
      July 23, 2014

      Hi Brittany! Thanks so much for your comment, and congratulations on your new place! I know that feeling of overwhelm–I’m five years in, which I can hardly believe, but I still get overwhelmed!

      When I read the description of your guest room, this Houzz photo came to mind. Here you can see how Linen white could work with a creamy upholstered headboard, a mix of white and off-white linens, and darker (espresso) furniture. If you truly favor a warmer white, this could be a great solution:
      http://houzz.com/photos/155274

      I actually really like the play of contrasts you get with dark furniture against a light backdrop. Especially if you want the room to feel more expansive, this route could be a good option.

      I think I’ve shared this photo before in the comments, but Navajo White (also creamy, definitely not a stark white) plays well with darker furniture. I love this bedroom. Classic:
      http://houzz.com/photos/99915

      Here’s another pretty bedroom featuring an upholstered headboard and lovely linens against Ben Moore’s Lancaster Whitewash as a backdrop (I love the historical whites too):
      http://houzz.com/photos/2310710

      Regarding your question about ceiling paint. First, I want to say do what pleases you! If you like the contrast between the wall and ceiling, then absolutely go for it. If you want the room to feel bigger, my own instinct would be to go with the same color on the wall and ceiling — which I realize might not be everyone’s preference, but here’s my reasoning: when everything is the same color, you eliminate the sense of a border or frame, so the eye keeps moving. I did this for my study downstairs which has comparatively low ceilings, and I really liked the effect. Another thing you could try is going with a Pearl finish, which has a slight sheen, on the ceiling. One of my fave bloggers swears by this and says it visually raises the ceiling of the room two inches!

      Love your ideas of introducing a faux fur rug and the description of the nice mix of linens you have going on–when you’re doing all white, it’s important to use different textures and shades of white to keep things interesting, which it sounds like you’re definitely doing. Good luck with this project!

  23. Karen D.
    July 31, 2014

    So happy to have found your article and painting/decorating advice. I recently discovered Houzz too and found inspiration to redo my master bedroom. I have a four poster bed and trad. furniture in cherry wood that I’ve decided to repaint. I loved the look on Houzz of linen white and dove trim with creamy furniture accents. It will really lighten up and warm my room. I’m unsure what color to paint my bed and furniture. I like a look of calm and inviting but don’t know what color and finish to use on furniture and hardware. My bedding will be neutrals with a touch of spa blue as an accent. I have hardwood floors but will add an area rug possibly considering sisal and window treatments.
    Thank you for taking the time to offer such wonderful advice, it’s truly appreciated!

    • writer&residence
      July 31, 2014

      Hi Karen, thanks so much for your comment!

      Your description immediately put me in mind of a bedroom I had seen in Elle Decor designed by Darryl Carter. I believe it’s an older home in Pennsylvania, but I just loved how fresh and cozy it was. Here a brighter, clearer white was used, and it looks like the bed frame is, or very nearly is, the same color as the trim and built-in bookshelves. It gives a nice clean coordinated look:
      http://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/with-a-light-touch#slide-2
      The lesson we could take from this room would be to use your trim color–White Dove–on your bed frame as well. I would use a different finish than what you’re using for the trim so things don’t look too uniform–so if you’re using a semigloss for your trim, then use a satin on the furniture.

      My other recommendation would be to go a little deeper in tone for the bed and dresser–almost more what I would describe as a taupe-y white. Given that your furniture sounds like it is more traditional in style, this might be a nice option. Light-but-not-white might give it more of a feeling of gravitas appropriate to a more traditional furniture style, but still give you that light-and-airy look that you’re craving. I found this photo of a Hickory Chair bed ($$$$), which I absolutely love, as an example (it’s also paired with a natural fiber rug, love this look):
      http://houzz.com/photos/819526
      I would suggest that if you like this look, work your way down the “White Dove” color strip and go for a shade that’s a bit darker, but in the same family, to be sure it will harmonize.

      As far as painting the hardware: I painted my kitchen cabinet pulls, knobs, and hinges last summer to save $$, and I simply lightly sanded them down and sprayed them lightly with a couple coats of Rustoleum Universal. My kitchen cabs are a warm white (Sherwin-Williams “Divine White”) and I chose a satin black for more contrast. They’ve held up nicely! If you want something softer, I might try an antique (vs. shiny bright) brass, like these:
      http://redfordhouse.com/Swedish-Lowboy-Dresser#.U9re1WK9KSM
      http://www.houzz.com/photos/11926454/Worlds-Away-WHite-Lacquer-3-Drawer-Dresser-contemporary-dressers-chests-and-bedroom-armoires

      The other option would be switching out the hardware entirely to update the look. Kelly at Talk of the House did this with her master bedroom dresser, and I think it was a good solution (especially on the horizontal dresser):
      http://www.talkofthehouse.com/updating-the-master-bedroom-furniture/
      I hope this helps, Karen! Good luck with your painting project/master bedroom redo!

  24. Alice
    August 9, 2014

    Hi! I am so overwhelmed by all the whites available!! I would like to lighten up a creamy kitchen that currently has some weird faux painting and replace with a crisp (not blinding) white. I don’t like the yellow undertones that are currently on the cabinets/trim. There is a pretty sage/hunter green on the walls, counters are a Crema Bordeaux color, backsplash is an beige tile- I like the warmth the cabinets provide, but think a cleaner white will be better. Floors are hardwood and also 1950′s tile in adjoining room that is the same color as satillo. I love dove white, ivory white, white down and a zillion others.. Every picture I see online makes them look different though. What would you suggest for cabinets and trim throughout? Will it be too stark white looking with the lighter hunter green shade? Also, I would like to carry that same cab/trim color throughout the rest of the house, but need a good wall color to compliment it.. Something not too beige, not too grey, just nuetral, inviting and warm. I’ve read Ivory White is good for walls. Thanks!
    Here is a link to the house, 4th picture shows the kitchen!
    http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/6463-Woodstock-Rd-Fort-Worth-TX-76116/29076836_zpid/

    • Alice
      August 9, 2014

      Also, I keep seeing BM Swiss Coffee on walls which looks to be a beautiful neutral that doesn’t lean too far yellow, beige or grey. What would be a good whiter trim color to pair with that that could also be used on kitchen cabs?

      • Alice
        August 9, 2014

        I also see Swiss coffee as the trim and cabinet colors a lot too.. Dover White by Sherwin Williams seems beautiful too. Aargh! too many choices!!! How do you not get overwhelmed by all the shades of white?!

    • writer&residence
      August 9, 2014

      Hi Alice!

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sending through photos–what a great house! And the kitchen has loads of potential! I am totally with you on getting rid of the faux finish on the cabinets–it dates the kitchen and takes away from the cabinets’ lovely classic profile.

      I think if you want the kitchen to feel light and bright, then White Dove would be an excellent choice for the cabinets, trim, and door. You asked whether there would be too much of a stark contrast between White Dove and the existing green wall color–my answer is yes. If you look at the existing color scheme, I would say that those darker green rectangles above the kitchen window and the door to the right are making the ceilings seem lower–they’re interrupting the flow of the cabinetry, and they’re also drawing the eye away from the gorgeous granite countertops and emphasizing what to me are the weaker points of the kitchen–the window above the sink, which seems maybe a little low/small, and the door (to the garage?) which has less character and “architecture” than your lovely cabinetry. If this were my kitchen, I would lighten up the wall color considerably. I would also remove that decorative iron scrollwork piece above the kitchen window (it’s cramped in that space) and replace it with a clean roman blind in the same color family as the cabinetry (light and bright, I would do a solid neutral, no prints but something with texture) and hang it a good deal higher than the actual window (maybe 6-10 inches, maybe more) using an outside mount to make the window appear bigger and close the gap between the top of the window and the top of the cabinets, something along the lines of this effect:
      http://houzz.com/photos/421725

      I would also add hardware to those lovely cabinets–to me, that’s an opportunity to add some really lovely detail and give the cabs a more finished look.

      Sorry, I got sidetracked! Back to paint: for wall color, I would recommend a light neutral with a green undertone (since you like green and not yellow!) like Muskoka Trail or Tapestry Beige–a lot of interior designers use these, and I think it’s because they meet your criteria of warm and inviting without being too yellow or, on the other side of the spectrum, too grey. I also think they’d play well with your Saltillo floors. My other go-to neutrals would be Manchester Tan, Grant Beige–these are soft and inviting and could be carried through the entire house. They have a lot of depth and change with the light as the day progresses. I did my dining room in Manchester Tan, and I haven’t grown tired of it:
      http://www.thewriterandresidence.com/virtual-tour-dining-room/
      I definitely think one of these lighter neutrals would work really well. Right now, I think they’re are too many competing medium tones in this kitchen–the back splash, the granite, the walls, even the cabinetry is a little on the darker side–I think lightening up the cabinets and the walls will create the airiness you’re looking for and also highlight the really lovely features of this kitchen, like the granite and backsplash. I’m imagining the effect would be more along the lines of this (these are white dove cabs):
      http://houzz.com/photos/6774220

      As for your other questions: I think Swiss Coffee could work for cabinets and trim. I would hesitate to make it the wall color as I think it may be a tad too bright–but you could try it and see! The other two choices you put forward–Ivory White and White Down–could definitely. Of those two, my money would be on White Down because I think it pairs nicely with White Dove and it has maybe a little more depth that you need, considering the richness of the granite, the floors, etc. this is my judgment based on the photos, but obviously things can always look different in situ–you have to make that call ultimately. :)

      I know there are so many things to consider! I would say give yourself time to test things out and think it through! I hope this helps! Good luck!

      Anna

    • writer&residence
      August 9, 2014

      Alice,

      Here is Muskoka Trail in a kitchen:
      http://houzz.com/photos/2333753
      http://houzz.com/photos/2333755

      And Tapestry Beige with White Dove (gorgeous):
      http://houzz.com/photos/579417

      Grant Beige:
      http://houzz.com/photos/2688753

      Manchester Tan:
      http://houzz.com/photos/601679

  25. Alice
    August 9, 2014

    Thank you so much for the lengthy reply!! I am loving the tapestry beige walls with white dove trim/cabinets (found that combo on a few other sites just now). The kitchen opens up to the dining room which is also that same green color. I do like the green color in there (not above window in kitchen though), especially with the clay colored tile, but do you think we should carry the tapestry beige throughout that room as well or just the white dove trim and keep the green to have something stand out? (we just bought the house so all the pictures are from the existing owners, totally agree on the iron scrollwork haha) The other two rooms that feed into the kitchen I would be doing the tapestry beige/white dove combo.

      • writer&residence
        August 9, 2014

        I’m glad I was able to suggest something that appealed. :)

        Thanks so much for the photos–I have a better idea of the layout now. If you like the green, then definitely keep it for now, and then after you decide on your colors for the kitchen and other rooms and then paint, you can assess how you like the transition once those other rooms are updated. Like you said, you want to create some contrast too. If, after painting, the green isn’t quite right, then what I would suggest is working your way down the tapestry beige color strip to get that contrast that you want, but still ensure that everything harmonizes. So, for example, the next shade down would be Coastal Fog (still very much in the green family, but more muted):
        http://pinterest.com/pin/370632244303675388/
        The next two shades down would be Brandon Beige:
        http://pinterest.com/pin/69454019226271935/

        These would give you the “pop”/higher contrast element but still create a smooth transition between rooms. Or, it could turn out that existing green works great and it saves you from extra painting! :)

  26. Alice
    August 10, 2014

    Thanks Anna!! Loving what pictures I see of Brandon Beige, seems to have a great green tone to it and it doesn’t read too grey which wouldn’t really work with my current decor.
    Would you do the ceilings in the white dove as well (just a flat finish as opposed to semi-gloss of trim/cabs?)

    • writer&residence
      August 10, 2014

      Thanks, Alice! :)

      Yes, I think White Dove in a flat finish would work really well. The difference in finish will differentiate it enough from the cabs and trim, but still harmonize perfectly. I also think it will be really pretty with your darker walls in the dining room–a softer solution than a bright white ceiling white (which may feel a little too stark).

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