5 Secrets to Choosing a White Interior Paint for Your Home

Featured Image sourced from Unsplash Artist Curology

Choosing the right paint color for your home is already a difficult task, but finding the perfect shade of white can be its own special challenge. Lighting, space, atmosphere, and personal preference are just some of the factors that can change the overall aesthetic. To make this process easier, here are a few tips to help make sure the color you choose is exactly what you are looking for. 


living room

 Photo by Unsplash Artist Kara Eads (CC)

White isn’t just WHITE. Any interior designer or artist will tell you how there are several different hues of white from blue to red and even yellow and green. The best place to get an initial idea of what hue you like is your local paint shop. Professionals often recommend taking a piece of white paper as a reference when picking out your color. This will illustrate the complexity of the different hues of white available. 


Now that you know how many options there are, check out your space. What tones are you already using, or plan to use, in your furnishings? If you are sticking with neutral furniture or warm colors, then a white with a warm undertone will be the best choice, like orange, pink, yellow, or red. On the other hand, if you go with a cool tone then hues of blue, purple, or green will be complementary. Just remember, the feeling of your space will be largely impacted by the color palette of your design choices.


grey pendant lamp

 Photo sourced from Unsplash Artist Christian Mackie (CC) 

Up next is lighting. Surprisingly, not only does the artificial lighting in your home make an impact, but so does your geographical location. Natural light in Oregon will look different than it would in New York or California. Do some research, assessing how much and what type of natural light in your space will be critical. Interior designer Alison Davin explains, “In New York, the light tends to be gray and warm. This means the best white is sympathetic to a warm gray. Ideally, it would have warm gray as the undertone.” Whereas, “in Miami, the same color may look like it has an orange cast. This is because the light in Miami has pure blue filtering through it. The blue in the light will make the warm gray paint look pink.” 

white pillar candle on brown wooden base

Photo sourced from Unsplash Artist Joanna Kosinska (CC)

Now that you have done some research, choose a selection of colors you enjoy the most. Here are a few tips to keep in mind courtesy of Remodelista

  • A pure white reads more modern than one with some color in the mix. (Interior designer Alison Davin)

  • The best whites aren’t really white at all. In most cases, bright white needs some tempering with color. (Architect Michael Howells)

  • If struggling, err on the side of a neutral white, in between what you can clearly read as “warm” and “cool.” (Interior designer Ellen Hamilton)

It is also important to take into account your paint’s finish. According to Architectural Digest and interior designer Donald Kaufman, “Colors are available in three finishes: Matte for walls, Flat for ceilings or light walls, and Pearl for trim or walls requiring a bit of sheen.”

Check out: Swatches of favorite paints in 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Exterior Paint Picks.

Finally, test your samples! Your color will look different depending on the wall. Make sure you are testing the colors you’ve chosen on several spots in your space. The color is almost certainly going to change once at home. If you are still not sure what color to choose, check out this helpful article by Elle Decor that lists 35 white shades that are favorited by top interior designers.

If you skipped to the bottom….

So let’s recap. To avoid making multiple trips to the paint store and ultimately pulling your hair out, stick to these 5 trusted steps to finding your perfect shade:

  1. Familiarize yourself with different white undertones & bring a reference 

  2. Evaluate your space and furnishings 

  3. Research lighting 

  4. Select top color choices & correct finish

  5. Test samples

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