Choosing White Paint – What I Learned

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Choosing white Paint - what I learned

Choosing the right white paint for your space can be so hard. Today I’m sharing what I learned and I hope my experience helps you guys!

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If you’ve been following along on my blog, you know that I made pretty a pretty bold move recently and decided to paint my built-ins in my living room. When I shared the reveal here and on YouTube, most of you loved the change, but some of you were very against it. 

I felt pretty confused after reading what everyone had to say, I’ll be honest. But I have to remember that it’s just paint. If I decide it’s too dark or that it’s too heavy, or if I wake up one morning and I’m craving white again….it’s not the end of the world. I can just repaint it! For now, I’m going to live with this color a little while. 

Built In color that clashed with current wall color

As for my living room walls, I knew they would need to be lightened. Our previous color, Halo by Benjamin Moore, was competing with the new color on the built-ins. In the photo above, Halo is on the left of the built-ins, and a color called White Dove is on the right.

Now before you accuse me of repainting my entire living room all because of a recent change that I’m not even 100% sure about, let me explain! Haha. Truth be told, I have been craving change for my living room walls for quite some time. I loved Halo at first, but after living with it for a while I realized that it read very gray-green in that space. 

Now I love Halo in my bedroom and it even looks good in my kitchen. But in my living room it just looked completely different. 

For a while I have been wanting to brighten things up, and I have always loved the look of creamy whites. What I didn’t realize is how difficult it is to CHOOSE a while. 

I mean holy cow, have you looked at white paint samples lately? Goodness gracious. I tried to be smart about it and do my research over on Pinterest. I looked at so many different homes and so many different whites. I decided that White Dove would be the color I chose, so I went and had a quart made since our local hardware doesn’t provide samples. 

Big mistake. It looked completely different in my living room! And on top of that, my ceilings were a creamy pink/white, which was throwing everything off.

Mantle Paint Colors against the old white walls before refresh

Well, we made the hard decision to paint our ceilings a bright white (I hate painting ceilings haha) and then it was time to decide on the walls. 

I’m going to share three things that I learned in the process of choosing a white paint color. 

1. Always always ALWAYS buy samples. 

I was impatient and I didn’t want to drive an hour just for samples. Yes, that’s how far away a Home Depot or Lowes is from me. 

But I’m telling you guys, EVERY space is different. It doesn’t matter if EVERYone else is painting their home that color…don’t purchase it without getting a sample first. 

The moment I saw White Dove on my walls it immediately read green (see photo above). I know that sounds crazy, but it did. That’s when I decided I would buy three or four samples and actually try the colors in my space before making a decision. 

Paint samples for our wall and ceiling refresh

2. Research the tints in the sample white paint colors you are choosing

Tints are so important. If you look at a paint can you’ll see letters like “CL” and “BL”. Do a quick internet search and see what tints those letters stand for! 

Try to choose samples that have completely different tints so you can see how they look in your space. 

The color I ended up choosing for my  walls

For example, White Dove has a bright yellow tint in it. For whatever reason, that color was reading green in my living room. Since I knew that, I decided to try a few colors without that same tint in it. 

I tried Alabaster by Benjamin Moore, Cloud White by Sherwin Williams, and Swiss Coffee again by Benjamin Moore. Alabaster was out right away, it was much too white and I still wanted some contrast against my white trim.

Eventually I decided that I liked Swiss Coffee the most, but I wanted it just a tad darker. I ran to my local hardware and ended up finding a True Value color called…you won’t even believe it….Swiss Coffee! Haha!

It was extremely close to Swiss Coffee by Ben Moore…just a teeny tiny bit deeper. I would NOT recommend doing this, but that’s the color I went with. You can see it on the swatch below.

Different shades of white paint and samples on my wall refresh

Yes, I just told you to buy samples no matter what. I took a huge risk by deciding on that color without seeing it on my walls, but thankfully I really like it. 

Paint colors, which to choose?

3. Consider what your white paint samples are reflecting off of

When I had all my furniture pushed to the center of the room and I was almost done painting everything this new color, the sun started shining in one day and the walls in one corner suddenly looked pink. I got really nervous until I realized that the sun was bouncing off our orange floors and casting a pink tone on the walls. 

Paint colors reflecting off of different parts of the room

Now once my white chairs are moved back into the corners where they normally are, hopefully I won’t have that same problem. But keep that in mind as you’re choosing white paint. Live with your samples for a while, try them in every corner of your space. See how they look on a sunny day and see how they look when it’s cloudy. 

Furniture in center of the room for a white paint refresh

I’m no paint expert, but all of these factors really helped me as I was deciding on a color. For now, I’m really loving how bright and open the living room is feeling. I can’t wait to get it all put back together! 

Wall color refresh and what I learned

I hope these tips will help you with choosing a white paint color. What do you guys take into consideration when you’re choosing? I’d love to know in the comments below!


Choosing White Paint - What I learned


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  1. You are so right about the way light can change a color. What works in your house may not work in mine. Samples are a must and be sure and check them in the daylight and in your night time light.

  2. Thanks for all the tips … getting the right white can sure be tricky! But yours turned out beautiful! What type (sheen) paint do you use on your walls & trim? Flat, satin, semi etc…? Also, not related but do you have a source for the pretty natural color shades I saw on the windows in one of your rooms? Thanks so much and I LOVE your home and style!

  3. Samples are they way to go for sure! What color do you have on the board and batten in the room? I love how the 2 colors go together.

  4. Not sure if you had a Ben Moore store mix your color, but if not, this is an important & invaluable lesson I learned from a designer, about “certain” Ben Moore “whites” when I had Sherwin Williams color match these colors & they read incorrectly on my wall: White Dove & Simply White are examples of Ben Moore “white”paints that do not color correctly if the Sherwin Williams store does not know the following: Benjamin Moore OC 17 White Dove, or Simply White, must start with The *Cashmere High Reflective* white base; otherwise, your outcome is incorrect.

    1. I came to say this! Any time I’ve had white dove mixed anywhere besides a ben Moore store, it turns out with a green tint! I didn’t know about the cashmere high reflective, but I learned my lesson about “color matching” white dove!

  5. Hello! I actually love the paint color of your cabinets above the fireplace. Can you advise what paint brand and color that was? Thank you!

  6. Hi, this is really good information as I am also trying to find a perfect off white tone color for my house.
    Just curious to know as your post didn’t clearly specify. Did you end up using BEHR Swiss Coffee over BM Swiss Coffee as it was a bit darker?

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