The ONE White Trim Color That Works Every Time

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

Dear Laurel,

I know you’ve gone over this and over this. I’ve read all of your posts about white and love them. However, I’m still driving myself nuts. My husband is no longer talking to me and the dog runs for cover every time I take out my paint brush. I would ask you to do a paint consultation, but I’m afraid that you’ll write about this crazy lady on your blog.

Never mind. I am crazy. Stark raving bonkers. Please, please make it stop. Just tell me the ONE color; the one white trim color that will look good with everything!

Sincerely,

Olivia C. Depressed

 

Whistler_James_Symphony_in_White_the_little_white_girl_white-trim-colors

James Abbott MacNeill Whistler – “The Little White Girl – 1865”

Dear OCD,

There, there now. Why so glum?

Although, I fully understand your frustration. Many years ago, I too drove myself to the edge of insanity. I made dozens of trips to the paint store, frothing at the mouth. I could just sense the bored clerk snickering to himself…

oh, here she comes again, let me go grab the spit bucket………………..

Then, in a torrent of, “I’ve-got-this,” I mixed TWO Pratt and Lambert whites together. Really not necessary and it wasn’t really that great, either. That was 19 years ago. Since then, after helping 100s of people select their white trim color, I got a lot better at it.

After a while, I began to realize a few things when selecting white trim color.

  • one, if the color is dark, the trim, ideally needs to be a little deeper white. Otherwise, the white may appear to be insanely bright by contrast
  • yellows definitely need warm but none-beige whites
  • blues also need non-beige whites
  • I generally stay away from cool, icy whites– just because I don’t like them.
  • Warm doesn’t necessarily mean yellow

The next thing I’m going to say is:

STOP IT!

I mean that in the most loving way, of course. Just stop it. Stop driving yourself nuts and here is why.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

A little secret that’s going to shock the drop cloth off of many a color guru.

A lot of the time, it really doesn’t make that much difference.

 

John_Singer_Sargent_-_Helen_Sears_-_Google_Art_Project copyJohn Singer Sargent – Helen Sears (excerpt) 1895

What, are you some kind of a sadistic freak, Laurel? Stop messing with me!

Haha! Okay, freak maybe, sadistic, never! I’m completely serious! Based on experience, I have found that a number of trim colors will do just fine in a lot of different situations. And they are the ones in this post about the only six white trim colors you’ll need.

There, doesn’t that make you feel better already? I mean, does your pearl necklace only go with one outfit?

Boston_Hotel_architectural_mouldings_white_trim_color

A photo I took two summers ago at a beautiful inn in Boston while visiting my son.

The problem is… well, it’s simple. There are just way too many whites to choose from. We could get rid of 3/4 of them and still have more than enough to choose from. Please see 20 great shades of white paint. And then you read something that buys into your fear that you’ll make a mistake. And maybe you did make a mistake one time. Did you learn from it?

White is the most reflective color. It’s reflecting light. The light changes color. It’s like the sky. God didn’t expect mom nature to pick just one color for the sky. Right? And that sky, clouds, exposure is going to change your shade of white throughout the day. So, while it may be the most difficult color. It’s also the most forgiving color.

John_Constable_Cloud_StudyJohn Constable – Cloud Study 1822

If you stick to the warmer whites, you’ll almost never have to worry about icy, unless the contrast is too great. But maybe you want that stark contrast!

The issue here is that you want only one color for the entire home.

This is a very valid point because then you don’t have to rack your brain. (as much) :] So, one day, your three-year-old decides to practice his writing on the wall with a sharpee.  You’ll probably want to touch that up. Now, you’re racking your brain–was that the mascarpone or the creme brulee? Oh wait no. It might’ve been swiss coffee… Life is confusing enough. I usually recommend sticking to one or two trim colors throughout the house if possible.

laurel-bern-interiors-linen-drapes-white-trim-color

From a recent installation we did in a Bronxville bedroom

(trim color is Benjamin Moore White Dove OC-17)

If you only want one trim color, then what needs to be taken into consideration are the kitchen and bathrooms. The cabinetry needs to match the trim– or at least be very close. Toilets, bathtubs and sinks are usually pretty white. No, the paint doesn’t have to be an exact match, but of course, it needs to coordinate. That means one of the whiter whites.

john_hummel_builders_white_trim_colorWhite on white. Gorgeous cabinetry and millwork by builders George Hummel and Associates

For bathrooms, plain old Benjamin Moore White, usually looks pretty durn good. My bathroom is this color. Why? Because that’s the way it came. In fact, the trim all throughout the apartment is painted in plain old white. The reason I didn’t change it is because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and, I hate gloppy trim even more than trim that’s slightly off-color.

So, is plain old outta the can white, the IDEAL trim color? Well, it’s in the top 20 best white paint colors because with a lot of colors it looks pretty good. However, sometimes it looks very stark and sometimes it looks a little dirty. Plain white actually has a good amount of gray in it.

So, that leaves about eight other possibilities for white wall or trim color if you are only using one trim color in every room in the house.

All colors by Benjamin Moore (not an affiliate link, but it should be!)

Chantilly Lace – OC – 65

Cotton Balls – OC-122

Mountain Peak White – OC- 118

Simply White – OC-117

Snowfall White – OC – 118

Super White – PM – 1

White Dove – OC-17

So, which one which one?

Here’s what you do. take eight pieces of paper with the names on them, put them in a hat, close your eyes and pick one. OR, play a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo.

Oh, Laurel, please stop being so glib and tell me the best one!!!

Gee, sorry. I thought I had made my point. They are ALL the best one. Yes, in some situations, some are going to be a bit better than others. However, the differences are so minute that the average person will not be able to see the difference.

Did you hear me? The average person will not be able to see the difference between the colors above. And only you, (and your mother) are the only ones who even care one hoot.

But you want only one trim color.

Fine.

Go with Cotton Balls OC-122.

wagner-chair-cotton-balls-oc-122-benjamin-moore-paint_white_trim_color

My living room in Bronxville with a cabinet painted with Cotton Balls

Yes, yes? Why Cotton Balls, Laurel?

Well, you asked me to pick ONE. I’ve used it many times with both light and dark colors and it’s never failed me. It’s warm and soft, clean and bright and not yellow.

Stop looking at me like I have six heads. Last time I checked it was only three. Is this the worst problem you have? Please. Little Smile?

That’s better…

*********

By the way, just in case some of you don’t realized, OCD is not a REAL person. Or if she is, she’s really me! I totally understand the anxiety that comes with selecting colors, especially white! But I had a teacher in design school that tried to set me straight.

“It’s not brain surgery, Laurel.

it took me a while to fully get it.

John_Singer_Sargent_-_The_Fountain,_Villa_Torlonia,_Frascati,_Italy_-_Google_Art_ProjectJohn Singer Sargent – The Fountain Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907

What about the rest of you? Is there a favorite white trim color/white wall color you have. OR, one that didn’t live up to its promise? I’d love to hear your opinions about THE most difficult color.

And if you liked this— please feel free to share!

one-white-trim-paint-color

xo,

laurel

 

 

PS: If you’re still not convinced, please check out this post about the only six white paint colors I’ve ever used.

 

Do you need some Benjamin Moore fan decks?


 

  • Brooke - July 17, 2017 - 1:44 AM

    Now I am stalking your posts. I found this one! One trim color, sold. Even with off white cabinets though? My painter used almost flat paint on the trim so we have to paint it but the cabinets are impossible to match, some standard antique white paint. So, good enough will work as long as it’s not too white. And yes, I will test. Thanks Laurel. Love reading your posts when they pop into my email. Even if I am at a resultant w other ppl being a bit rude. I read on the sly.ReplyCancel

  • Edie - June 26, 2017 - 1:34 PM

    Do you think BM Swiss Coffee (walls) and Simply White (trim) compliment each other?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 26, 2017 - 4:55 PM

      I usually do the same trim and wall color if doing a white, but if you want a slight amount of contrast, those two will probably be just fine, but test first please.ReplyCancel

  • Alisa Minkin - May 29, 2017 - 12:28 AM

    Hi Lauren,
    I love your blog, it could have saved me hours of obsessing if I found it earlier!
    Should the trim/ceiling color closely match the cabinets when doing white?
    I am going to have blue gray walls and SW Extra White cabinets, was planning one of the warmer whites you listed for the trim and ceiling, unless I should stick with a brighter white…
    Thanks!
    Alisa MinkinReplyCancel

  • Lynn - May 25, 2017 - 12:17 PM

    Thank you Laurel for your articles on the right whites to use. I actually used BM cotton balls on most of the walls in my house since the color was such a pretty white that I felt I could live with forever. I used BM chantilly lace on my trim, but that’s because I like the white on white look.

    The most important part was when you quoted your art teacher and said it wasn’t brain surgery. That made me lol.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 25, 2017 - 12:45 PM

      Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for sharing and there’s nothing wrong with white on white. That’s very pretty too!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - April 8, 2017 - 2:01 PM

    Thank you for this blog post. Cotton Balls was the answer for me.

    I thought I was losing my mind, trying to pick white trim for four different spaces with different wall colors, I really, really wanted to just have one color of trim to simplify things a bit. Thanks for the tip.

    It looks good with White Sand, Ballet White, New York State of Mind, and Collingwood. Happy happy happy.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 8, 2017 - 2:27 PM

      Hi Andrea,

      It’s a great shade of white– very chameleon-like. Glad it worked well very you!ReplyCancel

  • Kerry - April 5, 2017 - 3:30 PM

    Hi Laurel! Not sure if you are answering these questions any more but here it goes — I painted my kitchen walls Villa Grey (by Valspar) a little while ago. I’m currently having my kitchen cabinets painted and crown molding put up. I have two questions — do people typically paint kitchen cabinets and trim the same color if both are going to be “white”? Also, I’m not sure how familiar you are with Valspar paint colors, but I was wondering if White Dove would compliment Villa Grey? I think I have some trouble seeing the various shades of white so I’m struggling with this decision. Thank you so much for any advice you’re able to give!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 5, 2017 - 3:57 PM

      Hi Kerry,

      I so wish I could help everyone, but as it says in the comment box, I am not able to give individual help in the comments and I’m not even doing paid consultations at this time. Blogging is a full-time +++ job! Thank you for your understanding!ReplyCancel

      • Kerry - April 5, 2017 - 10:39 PM

        Laurel– I completely understand and I’m a medical provider so I totally get and love your analogy regarding the doctor needing to see you to diagnose!

        Maybe this is a better way to pose a question– I’ve read that you think white dove works with most rooms except those that are north facing.. Can a similar generalization be applied to coordinating white dove with other colors? i.e. White dove works with most color families except ____ (or worded another way- avoid white dove if the color you’re trying to pair has *these* undertones). Hopefully what I’m trying to ask makes sense…

        Thanks again– just reading your blog has been a big help with picking out a white. I never realized how difficult it can be especially to the (very) untrained eye!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 5, 2017 - 10:50 PM

          Hi Kerry,

          I don’t think that I said that white dove does not work in north facing rooms, because I have used it in north facing rooms. The only thing is you need to be more careful that the lighting doesn’t bring out too much of the gray. But it can also look starkly white.

          Light is tricky. You need to test.

          White is a warm, soft white and works very well with most colors about 95% of the time. But so do a lot of the other whites I recommend.

          The only time it doesn’t work as well is if the color is very clear (no gray) and it makes the white look gray and dull by comparison.

          For more info about whites and other colors, please consider purchasing my paint color and palette collection. You can access it in the first menu item in the menu bar.ReplyCancel

  • Rita - March 8, 2017 - 10:45 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I’m a big fan of neutrals, usually going with BM Revere Pewter on walls paired with White Dove trim. We just moved to a new home and painted our bedrooms those colors but the kitchen and living room get so much beautiful natural light that I want to go lighter and brighter. Trying to keep the paint colors tied together a bit, do you think White Dove walls would pair nicely with Simply White trim? I see they both made your best whites list. And I’m thinking this is a good pairing, but I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks so much for your time and thank you for all your great design advice! Love reading your articles.

    Best,
    RitaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 8, 2017 - 10:14 PM

      Hi Rita,

      Probably yes, but I always just do the same color trim and walls when doing white.ReplyCancel

  • Taylor - March 4, 2017 - 2:44 PM

    Help! I am in the process of a kitchen redo. I was planning on painting everything, walls, cabinets and trim in Navajo White because the trim in the rest of my house is in that color. I thought it was a good creamy color. Well, the cabinets are in and they look YELLOW. I can’t afford to repaint them. Can you advise me on a complimetary paint color that I could paint the walls, ceiling and trim. Such a costly mistake. I was thinking of 1/2ing navajo white. Thoughts on halving paint colors and/or 50/50 2 paint colors (navajo white, white dove).ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 5, 2017 - 12:36 AM

      Hi Taylor,

      I’m not there to give you good advice, but actually the same or a deeper color would be better, I think. If you paint the walls white, it’s only going to make the cabinets appear more of what you don’t want to see.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - February 13, 2017 - 2:48 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Is there a bright white that you know works well with dusty pink and greys? I painted my entire top floor BM linen white a year ago. It is a loft area that has large windows facing the south and east, and is light all day long. The issue is that it has a warm yellow look in the bright sun, and with the bright white linens on the bed, it looks even more yellow. One year later I now want a bright white that I can pair with dusty pink/rose, and bright white linens, and greys. Is there a general rule, or is it something you just need to hold up and see? I was thinking something with cooler tones. FYI. the linen white looks lovely in the darker west facing rooms and the downstairs hallways.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 13, 2017 - 5:24 PM

      Hi Jennifer,
      I wish I could help you, but I’m no longer doing any kind of interior design work or consultations. In order to give you sound advice, I would need to be standing in your room to see everything. No worries. It is no exaggeration, that I am asked these kinds of questions some 40 times a week. And that’s on top of other comments.

      Thank you for your understanding. For more help, please consider purchasing my paint product. I have 12 terrific white colors. And 132 other colors as well.

      If you scroll down a little, you’ll find the paint info and where to go from there for more info.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/rolodex-paint-collections/ReplyCancel

  • Katie - January 6, 2017 - 8:17 AM

    Hello – wonderful blog. I have a question that I hope is universal. . . I bought a 1920s home. I am having the floors redone, and I was going to have everything painted before moving in – the current paint is yellow with a deep (read yellow) cream trim (including all of the rad covers, built-ins, doors, etc.). I had a colorist come in and give suggestions for a neutral pallet. However, I am having doubts about the wall color, so decided to just paint the awful trim throughout the house and do the walls after moving in. The colorist suggested classic gray for the trim, but that was based on the corresponding wall color suggestion. Now that the wall color is unknown, I finally come to my question: Would you ever consider painting trim BEFORE knowing what your eventual wall color will be? I was considering using one of your “universal donors”. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2017 - 2:34 PM

      Hi Katie,

      I’m sorry but it’s impossible to answer this question as I can’t see anything that you are talking about. I will say that I would not choose a trim color until I know what the wall color will be. But yes, one of the universal whites is a good choice if you must paint the trim first.ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - December 18, 2016 - 6:51 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Ive been reading your posts. I have a very uncomplicated question? I am buying a 900 sq ft. coop in manhattan. I have a southeast exposure. I will be using white and grey in my interior design. After reading about your whites, I decided to paint the walls Chantilly Lace and trim Simply white. I don’t like any yellow, beige or green tones. What do you think. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 18, 2016 - 8:11 PM

      Hi Marilyn,

      I suggest that you make samples because I can’t predict how the light will be in your apartment.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - November 25, 2016 - 9:53 AM

    Hi Laurel, I love your living room! Would you mind sharing the paint color on your walls – looks like a beautiful shade of yellow. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 25, 2016 - 8:04 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks so much! My apartment came painted this way and I too thought it was a lovely sunny color. It is Benjamin Moore Hawthorne Yellow hc-4.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - November 16, 2016 - 1:45 AM

    Hi!

    I’m excited to have found your blog! I am in need of advice.
    Two years ago I painted all the trim in my house BM mascarpone. I feel it has looked nice with my BM cream fleece walls.
    Now, I’m painting my kitchen cabinets and am adding wainscotting in the adjoining room. I keep reading that I should stick with my trim paint for my kitchen cabinets. I was hoping to go a less creamy on the kitchen cabinets and paint BM simply white. Would it look alright if the kitchen cabinets are different and less creamy than the trim? It gets really tricky especially with the new wainscotting going in. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you!
    MaryReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 16, 2016 - 8:29 AM

      Hi Mary,

      I wish I could say for sure, but I’m not there to see the situation. It will probably be fine either way.ReplyCancel

      • Mary - November 16, 2016 - 12:53 PM

        Thank you for your quick response! Have you seen BM Mascarpone on kitchen cabinets before? Does it look very creamy? I was hoping that because it is large area does it would look more like white? I had wanted to put a marble like quartz on the countertops and worried that it wouldn’t look good with creamy cabinets.

        Thank you again!
        MaryReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - November 16, 2016 - 5:37 PM

          Hi Mary,

          It very much depends on the light in the kitchen. The cabinets do not have to match the counters precisely. You will need to make a large sample holding it up flat and vertical and then get a large sample of stone and have it be horizontal, just like they will be living in real life.ReplyCancel

  • Gage - November 15, 2016 - 12:49 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I just finished painting a 1200 sq ft living room/entry ceiling in Simply White (previously painted White Dove). I have to say, if you can get excited about a ceiling paint, this color is AMAZING! Now, the BM Ceiling Paint #508 does not cover a perfectly smooth ceiling in 2 coats, 4 coats for this ceiling, but once it does…WOW! Totally worth it. Ceiling throughout the house will now be Simply White with White Dove for trim. I’m in love with Simply White now. These two rooms will be Revere Pewter on walls, one rooms opens into a dining room painted in Restoration Hardware’s Slate (I love, love this color). Okay, I need to temper my ceiling paint excitement, because I really do have a question buried in here for you. I need to paint a mudroom that is off of one of the Rev. Pewter rooms. It doesn’t have good natural or overhead lighting. My initial plan was to do Rev. Pewt. in this room as well, but the samples seem very dark in here. I don’t want to go 50% because I am still trying to bring out the gray more than the beige. I am wondering….Revere is a warm greige, so could I go with something in a cooler gray that is lighter? I just don’t know if a warm greige to a light cool gray would look awful. Normally I would just try it, but I am running out of time before the holidays with trying to put our house back together after some major water damage/flooding. I was looking at BM Gray Owl, and also Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray.

    So what do you think about combining a warm/cool in rooms that directly open to each other? Do you have a favorite?

    Sincerely, GageReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 15, 2016 - 1:41 PM

      Hi Gage,

      I don’t think anything because I am not there to see what else is going on. I don’t know what style your home is… what the light is like… what part of the country… what your furnishings look… floor color… ceiling height. Are there mouldings? How large are the doorways? I could keep going.

      I say this over and over, dozens of times a month (!) but it is impossible to give advice like this unless I’m there, and if I were there, there would be a hefty consultation fee.

      The only thing that’s free on this website is the blog. Close to 350 posts that I’ve spent thousands of hours writing.

      My best recommendation is to hire a color specialist in your area, if you are struggling.ReplyCancel

      • Gage - November 15, 2016 - 3:00 PM

        Yes, makes sense! Well all of that said, Simply White in BM 508 is a do-over for a ceiling in this house. I bought both White Dove and Cotton Balls in Advance. Love that product, and it does cure like an oil. Now here’s hoping that in a few weeks I no longer notice the ceiling, lol. ….oh and, the house is 1950 MCM. Happy Thanksgiving!ReplyCancel

  • Gage - October 31, 2016 - 7:34 PM

    Laurel,

    I stumbled on your blog, and now I’m hooked! I hope you can help me. I have struggled to pick a nice rich gray that would look good with our furnishings, and found BM Revere Pewter. I read your recommendation for BM White Dove for the trim. All of the pictures look clean, crisp and exactly what I am looking for. My question is, what color would you put on the ceiling? This is a family room with large windows on the north side, but this is the only natural light. I tried a swatch of White Dove on the ceiling, and it looks dirty. However, it is up against a bright white.

    Also, I would like to use the same trim throughout the house. I have Ralph Lauren Plantation in the living room, and will be refreshing the walls in this color again, but would like to paint the ceiling and trim as well. Could I continue with White Dove, & the hopefully newly recommended ceiling color in this room also?

    Thank you very much in advance! I love your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 31, 2016 - 11:02 PM

      Hi Gage,

      I’m sorry but I’m not doing paint consults at this time and that’s what this sounds like you need. And I can’t recommend colors in the comments. It’s impossible in any case, because I’m not there. No worries, this happens a lot. But it’s like if you don’t feel well, your dr. needs to see you. They never diagnose over the phone.ReplyCancel

      • Gage - November 1, 2016 - 2:41 AM

        Completely understand Laurel. I was thinking this would be a slam dunk for you and you would say, “Dove White everywhere”, lol. That would have been too easy.

        Now, I think I might get better help from my doc if I actually could do my diagnoses by phone, lol.

        Appreciate the response. I may just wing it and do the walls in Revere Pewter, trim & crown in white dove…and get crazy and do the ceilings in white dove also for lack of knowing what I should do here.

        Thanks so much for the response! GageReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - November 1, 2016 - 11:46 AM

          Hi Gage,

          That is a common misconception. But I would be remiss to suggest any colors without seeing what’s going on. I will say that white dove is a ceiling color that I’ve used dozens of times. I promise that after a week, you won’t be looking at the ceiling. lolReplyCancel

          • Gage - November 1, 2016 - 4:43 PM

            I did it, decision made…he says hesitantly. Simply White for ceilings, White Dove for trim, and the much overdone, but very perfect for this room, Revere Pewter for the walls.

            Thanks Laurel! Who knew that the color white could be so difficult!

          • Laurel Bern - November 1, 2016 - 5:10 PM

            Sounds gorgeous, Gage! I hereby grant you permission to chillax. :]

          • Gage - November 1, 2016 - 2:44 PM

            Laurel,
            You’re right, I’m sure the ceiling will only stand out to me while I am staring at it obsessively as the light changes throughout the day, lol. I have never yet painted a ceiling in standard “ceiling white” from the can. I certainly can’t bring myself to start now! I’ll be slinging a few coats up soon, in either Simply White, Cotton Balls or White Dove. Knowing me, I’ll paint it several times until I’m satisfied, lol.

  • Deb - October 12, 2016 - 4:51 PM

    I am fascinated, because I just had a painter tell me to avoid cottonballs, because it takes 5 coats, even when he paints it over white.

    I did my bathroom trim in simply white and it was a little too yellow for the toilet white, but it was beautiful and I only noticed that fact for a few days.

    My painter is suggesting Dove for the trim in my livingroom, and it will be covering a brown door and dark wood, which will be primed, but I am pondering the 5 coats versus 1.ReplyCancel

  • Dana Neville - October 10, 2016 - 11:55 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    We are renovating our entire main floor with kitchen. It is hard to choose btw WD or Cottonball for kitchen cabinets and trim.

    Which would you use if the wall colour in the living room was Classic Grey? We do not have a lot of light in our front entrance and hall way, however we have a lot of afternnoon light in living room and kitchen.

    We are using calcutta nuvo quartz with a creamy white tiled backsplash.

    Would love your opinion.

    Thank you for considering my post.

    DanaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 11, 2016 - 1:30 AM

      Hi Dana,

      I’m sorry, but I can’t give a definitive answer because I can’t see what’s going on. But, my best advice is to make your samples and hold them up in the way that they will be living and look in different lights. Both are great whites. Cotton is touch brighter than WD. But remember, all whites change with the light.ReplyCancel

  • michelle - September 21, 2016 - 9:29 PM

    Hi laurel again……sigh…

    I forgot to mention Im open to color but wanted to try something new. If you can’t find a picture of the wallpaper it is charcoal and white……. animals……so nice to look at……

    thank you!ReplyCancel

  • MICHELLE - September 21, 2016 - 9:27 PM

    so I have a wallpaper from Brewster called meadow in charcoal in my foyer the wall surrounding the front door runs straight into the family room/ 11 year olds hangout/playroom. I used white dove as the trim around the wallpaper but now have three walls to paint. I thought about doing white walls and trim but Ive Never painted white walls before so Im nervous. I have hard wood floor and the room faces south but with the trees the light coming in the window doesn’t shine in much, its not dark but not rich with sunlight either. HELP!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 9:29 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      I wish I could help but I’m not there to see the situation. ReplyCancel

      • mhawlk - September 21, 2016 - 9:31 PM

        can I send a picture?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 9:35 PM

          Sorry, Michelle but I’m not doing consultations right now. I’m inundated with requests but am a full-time blogger now. But even if I were doing consults, there is fee for that and it’s a hefty number. Thank you for your understanding. ReplyCancel

  • CK - September 21, 2016 - 2:17 AM

    Hello! I have white Carrara marble tile (with significant grey veining) in my new shower. I want a really clean look. The bathrooms floors are gray ceramic tile and the countertops are charcoal gray quartz. What do you think about painting the walls, baseboards/trim, ceiling and vanity wooden cabinets all in BM Chantilly Lace semi gloss finish? Is that too much? I know you recommended different finishes in the same color but I thought bathrooms had to be painted in semi gloss because of the high humidity in bathrooms? I mistakenly painted the bathroom in BM white wisp and it ended up looking greenish gray and kind of dingy. Whites with yellow undertones don’t seem to look good with the white Carrara tile. Love your blog. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 21, 2016 - 8:22 PM

      Thanks so much CK. Unfortunately, I can’t advise on colors without seeing the space.ReplyCancel

  • Jen Oliver - September 9, 2016 - 11:04 PM

    Hi Laurel!
    Great stuff…..
    I am sold on Revere Pewter for a body color in my south facing kitchen/great room and either White Dove or Cotton Balls for trim & base. Do you think either would work? I like the idea of the warmth of CB. Would you recommend sticking with same color for ceilings?

    Thanks in advance for your great site and if you are able to assist on above decision.
    Best,
    jenReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 10, 2016 - 12:06 AM

      Hi Jen,

      Either would be beautiful. They are both warm soft whites. I have used WD with RP and they were gorgeous together. It depends what else is going on like the other finishes in the kitchen, for instance.

      ReplyCancel

  • Jen Oliver - September 8, 2016 - 4:53 PM

    Hi Laurel!
    Great stuff…..
    I am sold on Revere Pewter for a body color and either White Dove or Cotton Balls for trim. Do you think either would work? I like the idea of the warmth of CB. Would you recommend sticking with same color for ceilings?

    Thanks in advance for your great site and if you are able to assist on above decision.
    Best,
    jenReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 9, 2016 - 1:02 AM

      I have used white dove with revere pewter and it’s gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - September 7, 2016 - 9:46 PM

    Hi Laurel, I own the Essential Paint Collection and love love it. Here is my dilemma, which I hope you will help me with because it might help others:) I remodeled my kitchen in my 100 year old home and because it’s easy on my eyes, I chose Ivory White for the cabinets, trim, walls, and ceiling. I loved it so much that I painted the foyer Ivory White too. But…what shade of white should the trim be painted? Cotton Balls? Btw, when I say ‘I painted’, I mean my painter painted. By default, the trim needed to be painted Ivory White in the kitchen but does that trim color have to be carried throughout the rest of the house? Thanks, KellyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 7, 2016 - 10:55 PM

      Hi Kelly,

      I had a client last year that did an Ivory white kitchen and she did ivory white for most of the trim throughout the house. She did do white dove in a few of the bedrooms. I actually prefer it when the white trim is the same as the walls. I think it looks richer, but if you feel the need for some contrast, I’m sure that cotton balls would look terrific too. Of course, I always recommend testing first.ReplyCancel

  • Joy - September 2, 2016 - 12:46 PM

    LOVE your blog!!

    So helpful reading that Cotton Balls is a go to color… bit will it look to Murkey or not POP enough with bm Grey Owl wall color ?

    Thank you so much !!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 2, 2016 - 12:56 PM

      Hi Joy,

      Stop watching HGTV!!! lol, No really. It’s not your fault because everyone says it. However, the word “pop” is one that I never heard before all of that mediocrity hit the air-waves. (not all shows are bad, but too many are).

      Why do you want your moulding to “pop?” I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. Obviously, you want it to show up. It will. It will, even IF the moulding and walls are the same color. In fact, I think that’s the most beautiful, sophisticated, traditional (yes, traditional!) way of painting. And I’ve posted about this.

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/06/23/husband-wont-change-blue-trim-color/

      However… there is also no problem with painting the trim a white. IMO, you do not want too much “pop.” (can you tell that word gets my hackles up?)

      However, in answer to your question, Grey Owl will be beautiful with Cotton Balls. And no, it will not look at all murkey. Of course, I can’t see the light in your room.

      That is a different subject because light CHANGES.

      I have a client who recently painted her dining room tone on tone cotton balls and sometimes the walls look like a very clean white and sometimes more creamy. The living room across the center hall is also painted the same and it’s the same situation. But because of different exposures, the adjacent sunroom and vegetation, is somewhat brighter in the living room.

      The entry trim (with wainscoting) is also CB with Classic Gray walls and it’s gorgeous.

      Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Wayne - September 2, 2016 - 10:51 AM

    Laurel – Thanks for the great posts! Based on your articles, I’ve decided to go with Cotton Balls (CB) as the trim paint for my entire house. I have, however, some floor to ceiling bookshelves that I need to paint. Would you typically use the same paint as the trim (semi-gloss CB)? If so, should I plan to use some sort of finish to achieve a harder surface and, if so, what?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 2, 2016 - 11:16 AM

      Hi Wayne,

      Terrific! Yes, I would paint the bookshelves in cotton balls. I used to always specify the alkyd formulation (oil-based) but it is difficult to get in some states. Reports are good for the Advance which is a “water-born” alkyd. To me, that sounds like an oxymoron, but apparently, the brushes do clean up with soap and water but the drying/curing time is the same as oil.

      No additional finish is necessary. It’s the prep-work that’s important!ReplyCancel

  • Mae - August 23, 2016 - 1:49 AM

    Hi, thank you for this topic, cotton balls now on the radar.

    The question I have, which seems to rarely be addressed on paint blogs, is: how to pick color–white in this case– for transitional spaces. We all have those rooms, south facing windows that lead into north facing hallways, or north facing rooms that bleed into a south facing room, etc. So…how do we pick a white that looks good when traveling through the space? I’m not so much along for specific colors (it’s probably cotton balls 😉 ), and more wondering if there is a rule of thumb? Particular undertones to look for?

    Thank you.

    Unrelated P.S.: I have decorators white trim, which has that grayed undertone. I thought I read this is what makes it a starker white. But you mention some white with gray undertones and say that the gray makes it softer. Color me confused.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 24, 2016 - 10:34 AM

      Hi Mae,

      These are all good questions. However, I don’t ascribe to the theory of undertones quite in the same way as others do because colors whether over or under as some say, change with the LIGHT.

      And one might not always like the way a color changes. That’s life.

      Cotton Balls is one color that looks good in all lights.

      I can’t say that I recommend it with decorator’s white trim. I might look at white dove in that case.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - August 22, 2016 - 1:33 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I have purchased a home that is covered in oak paneling! The doors are the same color as the oak paneling. The beams in the living and dining rooms are oak paneling. The kitchen cabinets are honey oak with a cream colored countertop. I can’t afford to change the kitchen at the moment other than paint. Really wanted to do the whole house in a light gray (revere pewter) and the ceilings, trim, doors and beams in cotton balls. What do you think? Will it all work together? And currently the floor is wall to wall cream carpet, which I want to do a darker distressed laminate. Any ideas to look into? Thanks in advance!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 22, 2016 - 4:51 PM

      Definitely paint it. What color, I can’t say because I’m not there. Same with the floor, but most laminates I’m not too fond of. I would go with the real thing if possible.ReplyCancel

  • Eva - August 21, 2016 - 5:19 PM

    Thank you for mentioning BM White Dove I selected it from a decorator’s recommend column for my trim a few years ago. I love the affirmation. They also recommended Dove Wing for white walls. That color works great in my 70+ y.o. home. A starker white in my bath made the vintage tile look dingy but these white make that look whiter & cleaner. Also if your walls a a color another option is to paint the ceiling the same color at 25% intensity. For those of us with standard 8 ft. walls why accentuate that transition.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 22, 2016 - 3:50 PM

      Hi Eva,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!ReplyCancel

  • claudia - August 20, 2016 - 10:44 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I am building a small (700ft) cottage with a main bedroom and also a loft bedroom. This cottage is in the woods on top of a mountain (with undertones of an english cottage) I am thinking of painting it revere pewter and I want to warm up the revere with a BM white for trim and vaulted ceiling. Which would you advise? SHould I paint the kitchen cabinets that same color? ALso – should the loft be the same color as the main great room? Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 21, 2016 - 12:41 AM

      White Dove is gorgeous with RP! Kitchen cabinets also WD, yes. The rest, I can’t say because I’m not there, but if it’s the same room, then yes, the same color and I often take lighter colors onto the vaulted ceiling as well, but since I can’t see, can’t say for sure.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey J Smith - August 18, 2016 - 10:12 AM

    Laurel,

    I am one of many who have painted, repainted, have enough paint samples, in every brand available to me, to paint the entire house, if I were going for a patchwork look, and finally settled on the perfect white for me.

    I chose BM Snowfall 2144-70. The best part is, I will never have to worry about it looking like snirt. 😂 (I read one of your other articles and it made me laugh. Yes, the white colonial covered with freshly fallen snow is beautiful, magical, breathtaking – at Christmas! Not so much at Halloween or Easter! 😂)

    I have, also, played the same roulette game with reds. Again, the perfect red for me is SW Positive Red. I painted my house this color and love it!

    Thank you for your humor and insight, it made my day!

    Olivia
    Aka Stacey

    PS I plan to paint the LR walls and trim all Snowfall. 😜ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 18, 2016 - 10:27 AM

      Hi Stacey,

      That’s great to know. I’ve never used snowfall and probably because it is so similar to some of the other whites I know and love.

      I mean, how many husbands does a girl need? I say not more than 4 or 5! lolReplyCancel

      • Stacey Smith - August 18, 2016 - 2:43 PM

        I’ve had/have two husbands and I’ve already said that unless the next one is filthy rich, I’m not interested! LOLReplyCancel

  • Marie - July 12, 2016 - 2:48 PM

    Your site is amazing and you write so well! Thank you.

    Do you have a go-to ceiling color when you’re using Cotton Balls? And will Cotton Balls work with Benjamin Moore Linen White? I noticed on another page you used Linen White with a different white trim.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 12, 2016 - 3:11 PM

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks so much. Actually, when painting walls any white, I generally use the same color on the ceiling and trim, but in a semi-gloss for the trim. Flat or matte for the ceiling and matte for the walls. Matte is washable, so there’s no need for eggshell.

      If you desire a little contrast, I would most likely use white dove with linen white.ReplyCancel

  • Joniece trammel - July 3, 2016 - 10:41 PM

    Is white dove okay to use on the ceiling as well as the walls and trim?ReplyCancel

  • Becky - June 27, 2016 - 12:39 AM

    Thank you, Laurel, for your funny, helpful sanity-preserving entry about the One White Trim. I started worrying about color trim about six hours ago when I realized what I had in mind wasn’t going to work. Called my sister-in-law, who gave me great overall guidance about avoiding anything with too much green or blue or pink or yellow, something a little creamy but not yellow (just like you say). But I still didn’t have a specific color, and surprise, paint stores are closed after 6 p.m. on Sundays. Fretted over dinner, etc. Then found your blog about the six white trims 40 minutes ago and then this one about THE ONE 20 minutes ago. So…it’s nearly midnight, my husband is asleep, the painters are coming at 8 a.m. tomorrow, and I’m going to tell them: Cotton Balls. THANK YOU AGAIN!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 27, 2016 - 1:15 AM

      Hi Becky,

      Glad to help. It’s funny, but a few months after I wrote this, a client chose this color. I gave her two possibilities and she chose cotton balls.

      Soooooo.. the painter comes over and starts priming, patching, etc.

      He tells MY client that she shouldn’t paint her walls white and the trim white. She SHOULD go with a creamier color on the wall. It’ll be too stark.

      Of course, smoke is now coming out of my ears because I’m not saying to my client… “you know, he really shouldn’t be using 2″ brush to paint the trim. I always use a 3″ brush.”

      Right?

      Still… A little seed of doubt crept into my head. Of course it did! I went over as he had painted a large swatch on one wall.

      It looked terrific.

      He painted the entire room. Actually two rooms. Living room and dining room and it’s gorgeous and the client is thrilled.

      You can see her white walls here:

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/03/27/get-window-treatments-like-see-magazines/

      and here. (funny post! look for the fireplace and white stockings)

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2015/12/19/the-best-christmas-decorations-ever/

      good luck tomorrow!ReplyCancel

      • Becky - July 2, 2016 - 12:45 PM

        Hi Laurel,

        Oh my, I have to begin with a digression: the SNIRT problem is worse than anything I’ve ever seen here in the Midwest.

        I do like the cream-colored trim+walls. I will keep this in mind for the next project…which may not be too far away. The trim color is great but the company hired to do the trim / doors didn’t do the best job (we sent them packing before they finished) and so now we will be doing large parts of it AGAIN and it may mean redoing walls, not just trim. Sigh. If it’s not one thing… I will try to see it as an opportunity.

        Your advice was still a HUGE help, and your blog is a treasure-trove. I owe ya. If you’re ever driving along I-80 in Iowa and need a cup of coffee, it’s on me. I’m guessing you drink a lot of coffee since you replied to my post at 1:27 a.m.! But happy to buy you a pop, as they call it here in the Midwest. Or wine. Whatever!ReplyCancel

  • Claudia - May 4, 2016 - 12:07 PM

    Hi Lauren. Love your website!
    I have a north east facing small bedroom/studio combo. There is an ugly wall that you first see when you open the door right infront of it and between two north facing windows. That wall is always dark. Im thinking it needs a warm strong color like a peach. Not too bright like red or orange but something in between. The issue now which white to use to paint the other walls. My room is currently painted in a very bright white white color so white that my eyes hurts and looks boring and depresing because it looks a bit grey and blue a lot of the tme. what do you suggest?ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - April 26, 2016 - 4:03 PM

    Would you use white dove on trim and ceilings in a contemporary style house? I am trying to achieve a modern (but not too modern), bright feel and am a little scared that the white dove will cast too gray – esp if on all the ceilings. We are planning to do most of the main floor in bm intense white (light gray). We will be staining the wood floors either Jacobean or espresso. Thanks for any help!ReplyCancel

  • Ali - April 21, 2016 - 4:12 PM

    Would you do white dove as trim (semi) and on ceiling (flat) or would the grey in it darken up the space? Want to keep things bright. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 21, 2016 - 10:02 PM

      It depends on the light in the room. If there’s good light in the room, it should be fine.ReplyCancel

      • katie - June 16, 2016 - 1:27 PM

        hi!
        we are going to paint the built ins in our den white. Right now the trim in that room is “Simply white” by BM. Was thinking of doing “white dove” for the built ins, which is a little softer, Do you think it will be too big of a contrast? if the trim is simply white and the built ins are white dove would u be able to tell its two different whites? or should i just stick with simply white for the built ins? thanks !ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2016 - 11:28 PM

          Hi Katie,

          I would paint it all one color. Yes, it will most likely be noticeable and might look like someone goofed.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - April 13, 2016 - 3:06 PM

    I wish I had read this before I bought an expensive gallon of BM China White for my exterior trim! Now, I’m worried. Is there anything I can do to make this paint color less muddy looking? Anne commented that she uses it at half strength but I don’t know how to do that. I am painting the rest of the exterior an undetermined gray. Maybe it will be okay against gray?ReplyCancel

    • Michelle - April 14, 2016 - 3:29 PM

      Good point! I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you for taking the time to reply.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 13, 2016 - 3:42 PM

      Michelle,

      My post discusses INTERIOR paint colors. The rules for exterior painting are vastly different. Colors tend to look brighter and/or more intense outside, so a gray-ish cream like China White is most likely beautiful outside. I still recommend testing and if you’re not happy, you could combine the china with another color. ReplyCancel

  • shellie - April 12, 2016 - 11:41 AM

    I want to paint a bedroom with two shades of white, one for trim and one for walls. Accent colors will be pale turquoise and perhaps some tan and beige. What do you suggest? (I have a “coastal” feel in the rest of my house.)
    Thanks!
    ShellieReplyCancel

    • Gay Gawa - April 17, 2016 - 6:54 PM

      Shellie, I had the same problem in my sunroom so I painted the ceiling with flat polar ice, walls in bm matte simply white and trim in semi gloss bm snowfall white.The room gets a lot of light from the southeast. Hope this helps. Sometime when you paint with whites depending on light choosing a finish from flat,matte, eggshell, pearl, semi gloss to gloss can make a difference.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 12, 2016 - 3:18 PM

      Shellie,

      Perhaps you missed the note above. I cannot give individual paint advice regarding colors. I can’t see your room and there is a fee associated with paint consults. Not to worry; despite notes, I get these kinds of requests about 20 times a week.ReplyCancel

  • Carole - April 11, 2016 - 12:49 PM

    I just redid my whole kitchen – Cabinets are called Alabaster white by manufacturer. I choose an off white matte textured subway tiles 21/2″ x12″. Tile floors that look like wood in a med tone brownish gray. Counters are colonial white granite- black gray and creamy white. stainless steel refrigerator. Black dishwasher and stove stainless steel with black. The kitchen appliance and sink area is L shaped. No wall showing except above tall cabinets. Kitchen small 10×13 with a cathedral ceiling making it appear larger. I cannot find a paint color to bring the kitchen I do not like dark muddy colors like BM Revere Pewter since my kitchen I believe faces east. That color looks well with lots of light. I thought I would paint the two cathedral walls a light gray but can’t find a color that doesn’t look like cement. I decided to paint the walls and trim BM super white. I want the kitchen open and airy looking. I would appreciate your help with any suggestion.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 11, 2016 - 5:54 PM

      Hi Carole,

      I’m sorry, I wish I could help you, but I cannot SEE what you are talking about. It is just like calling up your doctor and telling him you have a tummy ache. Is he going to diagnose and prescribe over the phone? No, he needs to see you. My best suggestion would be to hire a color specialist in your area who can see the job in person.ReplyCancel

  • Dennis - April 4, 2016 - 5:33 PM

    Hi. I really enjoyed the read. I would like to ask one question further: I have floor to ceiling beadboards in a basement laundry room, well lit; should I use the same color and sheen for both the beadboard and trim, or different colors, same sheen or same color different sheens? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 4, 2016 - 8:14 PM

      Hi Dennis,

      The rule of thumb is that anything that is wood including the beadboard and trim is painted the same and usually in a semi-gloss. Satin is okay too if you don’t want it quite as shiny. The ceiling should be flat.

      And yes, the same color.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Martinez - April 2, 2016 - 7:16 PM

    Laurel:

    I LOVE all your posts and find you funny, talented and helpful. Am redoing my whole kitchen and am planning on cabinets, ceilings and walls in cloud white. I’d like to do living/sitting area and staircase adjoining the kitchen in bi’s paper white walls and cotton ball ceiling. The trim and wood have a natural stain (sort of a deep redwood color). I love the lightness of paper white, but am worried about the cotton ball ceiling choice.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 3, 2016 - 12:22 AM

      Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for the compliment. I wish I could give you a reliable answer but I can’t see your space. There are a zillion factors I don’t know. But why don’t you just keep the ceiling cloud white? Of course, you should probably test it. But if everything else is cloud white, it’s absolutely fine to use it on the ceiling as well.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - March 29, 2016 - 12:02 PM

    You crack me up!!! I think I saw Cotton Ball… and now I am going to have to rethink my Simply choice… Cotton Ball sound soooo much better too. It is fluffy and pretty. I am going to have to try it somewhere! xoReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 29, 2016 - 12:26 PM

      Hi Courtney,

      It is kind of fluffy and pretty! I have a client who just used it in her dining room and living room. Oh wait. It’s the one in the last post about the white linen drapes. https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/03/27/get-window-treatments-like-see-magazines/

      They’re not the best photos because they were taken with my phone and it was getting a little dark, but it gives a pretty good idea.

      I did hear an interview about peeps at BM who obsessed for days about which color white they would choose. The overwhelming majority picked simply and that’s how that came to be the color of the year. But they are soooo close. To my eye, cotton is a hair grayer.ReplyCancel

  • Jane Anderson - March 21, 2016 - 2:03 PM

    This is a warning for those who want to use Anderson fibrex replacement windows- they are a very cold white, approaching light icy gray. We did get the suggested matching paint, but have not used it yet. Not happy with this trim color. Many customers complain about it. Even white dove contrasts enough with it to make it look funny on the trim. What to do! any help would be great.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 21, 2016 - 2:52 PM

      Oh wow!

      I know! What is wrong with these people? Don’t they know that we don’t want icy cold white for our window frames? (not to be confused with window casing, which is the wood moulding around the windows)

      You have two viable choices.

      One, live with icy-cold white pvc window frames and choose a white that’s not too yellow like white dove would be. Decorator’s white would probably be a better choice or maybe you could get away with simply white, but still might be too yellow.

      OR,

      you can paint the PVC. I know, very rad, but anything can be painted with the right prep and the right paint.

      AND the right painter who understands all of this. There are actually companies that specialize in this sort of thing.

      Here is a discussion that might have some helpful information in it.

      http://ths.gardenweb.com/discussions/2317015/i-just-had-my-vinyl-windows-painted

      The option I would not opt for is to match the ugly vinyl. You’ll never be happy.

      In days of yore, the sash and window frame, WERE made from wood and therefore had to be stained/varnished or painted.ReplyCancel

  • HG Fuller - March 7, 2016 - 8:05 PM
  • Lindsay - March 2, 2016 - 11:17 PM

    Can’t wait for your collection!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - March 2, 2016 - 4:16 PM

    I wanted to paint my front north facing living room and dining room white? Is that a major no then?!? I saw in a post north facing never paint white. Cotton ball white? This is so stressful lolReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 2, 2016 - 6:18 PM

      Hi Lindsay,

      I think it really depends what else is going on with the room itself, the size of the windows, height of the ceiling, other architectural features, floor color, other materials and then the furnishings.

      That probably doesn’t help with your stress. But it’s like this… I have a website. It’s stressful. I don’t always know what I’m doing and so I get some pro help.

      Point being, that the paint color is only one part of the entire composition that is your home. And saying that one can never paint a north facing room a warm white like Cotton Balls is wrong. But I can’t tell you if it’s the best color either for all of the above mentioned reasons.ReplyCancel

      • Lindsay - March 2, 2016 - 11:13 PM

        Thanks for responding! I think that’s the best part. So many times you can ask questions and never get a response!! Thanks!
        Yea it’s just a basic Long Island cape style home. No wow factors. HahaReplyCancel

  • Barbara Miller - March 1, 2016 - 6:36 PM

    Hello…thank you for your help on this project. I have a small commercial bathroom with no windows. Dark green floor tiles. Bright white wall tiles half way up with a dark forest green trim tile. What would be a good white for walls and trim of door and hopefully the oak vanity. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 1, 2016 - 7:09 PM

      Barbara, I tried emailing you privately, but it bounced back. Here’s what I said:

      Hi Barbara,

      I very much appreciate the comment and wish I could help everyone!

      However, I cannot give individual advice in comments. One day, I will
      figure out how to put up a message so that people understand more clearly
      the parameters for commenting on the paint posts. Believe me, you are not alone! I get dozens of requests every week and some of them are about 20 times the length of what you wrote. No joke! It’s impossible to recommend colors without seeing everything that’s going on and it’s a big deal with photos and so forth.
      And of course, a fee.

      If you are struggling, may I suggest hiring a pro to help you sort it out.
      I’m not able to handle any more work at this time.

      ReplyCancel

  • PJ - February 15, 2016 - 8:06 PM

    Loved this blog about whites. Can you please tell me details and where to find the beautiful lightweight curtains shown? They are perfect!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 15, 2016 - 8:18 PM

      Hi PJ,

      Those are custom-made drapes made by my workroom. The fabric is a linen sheer that’s lined.ReplyCancel

  • KATY THOMAS - January 27, 2016 - 12:40 AM

    First off, your site is amazing. Thank you. We recently moved into a 9000 sq foot house from 1910 Regency Style that needs every surface painted…Prior to this house, we lived in an 1890 Queen Anne Victorian with all natural woodwork, that also needed every surface covered. I ascribed to the buy samples and try them out method…he guys down the street at Sherwin Williams knew me by name based upon how many Saturdays I stopped in for samples. I ended up with over 70 of them in my basement! Anyway, I didn’t want to become that lady again and stumbled across your site. So far, you have been spot on. If you say it is good, it is great! I am on to my dreaded north facing living room and am debating between a safe ivory white with a colorful oriental rug or and going all in with pumpkin spice..We have velvet Indigo drapes in the room and carpet is TBD. Going to hit the BM store tomorrow and pick up 2 samples which is a huge improvement thanks to your guidance!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - January 26, 2016 - 6:48 PM

    I loved your article and your way of putting us at ease…but my favorite white didn’t make your list. Any thoughts on Benjamin Moore’s ‘ Swiss Coffee ‘ ? We are currently remodeling the whole house. I think we’ve decided on using Revere Pewter (looks gray and not brown in the NW facing bedroom), Chelsea Gray (accent wall in the M Bedroom and wall color for the M. Bathroom) either Blue Danube or Slate Teal for a ‘moody blue room’ (game/family room) and an accent/gallery wall in the living room, …Not sure about the dining room (black buffets and lots of southern light) or the kitchen (black and white cabinets and also south facing). Should I stick to certain colors or undertones since I’ve decided to use Swiss Coffee throughout the entire house? Thanks! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 26, 2016 - 10:31 PM

      Hi Jennifer,

      I can’t give you specific advice but I can tell you that you are on the right track. And BTW, Swiss Coffee is one of nine shades of white in my paint color collection that’s due out around March 1st.

      Swiss Coffee is warm with a touch of greige. It’s fine with most colors. I wouldn’t pair it with a bright color, unless a red, perhaps, but otherwise, the muted palette you’re working with will be lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Lidia - January 12, 2016 - 10:52 AM

    Dear Laurel,

    Thank you for your blog – it is delightful!

    I understand you recommend flat for ceilings, matte for walls and semi gloss for trims. What finish is normally recommended for doors and cabinets?

    Thank you and blessings of peace in the New Year!ReplyCancel

  • Erick - January 8, 2016 - 12:23 AM

    The other half & I can’t decide on exterior colors. Which bm gray to use with white dove.?. We DON’T want greige, beige, blue, brown or tan! We want a nice soft comfortable gray. Not super dark that’ll look good with white dove as our trim color.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 8, 2016 - 12:42 AM

      Hi Erick,
      My best advice if you don’t trust yourselves to judge the color through testing is to hire a professional color specialist.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Hoar - January 2, 2016 - 9:10 PM

    Love your blog. I found it as I am prepping for painting next week and have been through tons of these colors! I want to lighten everything up, clean look, but not stark white. I felt Simply white was just too white. Dove white has been another option, but now we are thinking Ballet White – thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 2, 2016 - 9:45 PM

      I think it really depends. Ballet is pretty but it is not white. It’s like a rich latte color. ReplyCancel

  • Lori - December 17, 2015 - 11:36 AM

    Hi there! My daughter wants BoHo Glam for her new Beverly Hills apartment. She wants to paint her walls beautiful white instead of the current beige. I love the way she’s thinking! I see Benjamin Moore Simply White for her walls but what about her crown moulding, baseboards and fireplace, etc. – e.g. the trim? What white would you use or would you use Simply White on all? Thanks much! Looking forward to hearing from you.
    LoriReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 17, 2015 - 2:43 PM

      Hi Lori, I usually paint the trim walls and ceiling one shade of white, but vary the finish. If using Benjamin Moore, I like matte for walls, semi-gloss for trim and flat for ceilings. Matte is similar to flat but washable.ReplyCancel

  • Matt Denney - November 18, 2015 - 10:38 PM

    Laurel.. I’m sure if I don’t stop telling you you’re my design hero you’re going to decide I’m some kind of freak and have a restraining order taken out. Your design teacher was, of course, right. It’s not brain surgery. My first boss’s corollary… “no one ever died from the wrong color!”

    Honestly, I’m right with you on BM White, right out of the can. It’s rarely failed me.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 19, 2015 - 12:51 AM

      That is so kind of you Matt! I won’t worry if I don’t see you. My philosophy in recent years is to keep my expectations low. That way, I’m not disappointed. If things go nicely… well, it’s a gift. That’s all.

      I have a big installation tomorrow. I had drama today and it was touch and go for a while. Hopefully, a bad rehearsal means a good show!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen Kuhlman - November 12, 2015 - 3:23 PM

    Do you have an opinion on a specific creamy white trim? I want my home to read soft and welcoming. Concerned doing all linen white will be yellow/dingy?? We are doing a farmhouse colonial, big over-mortar stone and off-white siding. I love your suggestion of wall, trim ceiling the same but different finishes; but the rooms you show could be beautiful if they were painted purple! Those moldings are gorgeous. Can a house with large baseboards and substantial crown, but no floor to ceiling moldings pull off the singular color? I’m leaning towards linen white but thinking it may be too yellow. IM trying to trust the many professionals that love linen white but I’m considering timid white too. My builder doesn’t want to do a blend so the go to 50-50 linen/white dove is out. What color off the charts is similar? I’m so over the trim “popping” and stark white seems dated to me. Looking for that aged sophisticated white that won’t look horrible in my bathrooms.
    Thanks!
    Kathleen.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - November 9, 2015 - 10:29 PM

    I just came across your wonderful website! Such a wealth of information. I would love to paint my kitchen white. Unfortunately, I am stuck with yucky white laminate cabinets for the time being. Does Cotton Balls match or blend well with standard white laminate, or would another white be better?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 11, 2015 - 6:45 PM

      Hi Laura, I always recommend testing on a piece of large cardboard and holding up the elements in the position, they’ll be in.ReplyCancel

      • Laura - November 12, 2015 - 9:11 AM

        Thank you, Laurel. I appreciate your advice. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Hillary - November 8, 2015 - 10:00 PM

    Thank you for this post! I also love follow your blog religiously.
    My husband and I recently bought a home built in 89 and after having it professionally painted, the trim seems to look darker than the walls. The trim is Navajo White by Kelly Moore and the wall color is Abilene Lace. I am not sure if most people will notice, but I was expecting a crisp white and its not. 🙁 I feel like I spent all this money on painters and now it doesn’t look right. Any advice? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 8, 2015 - 10:15 PM

      Hi Hillary,

      Well, you have two choices.
      1. repaint
      2. decide that you really do love it for it’s uniqueness.ReplyCancel

  • Laura - October 21, 2015 - 7:13 PM

    Hi Lauren,
    First, thanks so much for all this helpful information. Second, we’re about to paint out interior walls BM Mascarpone with BM Cotton Balls for the trim. Does that raise any red flags to you? Third, we have a tray ceiling in the living room and I’m wondering what a nice complementary color there might be. We have red oak floors and accessories in vibrant colors — a la early California pottery, etc. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 21, 2015 - 8:13 PM

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for stopping by and am glad the information has helped you. I’m sorry, but I’m not doing paint consults at this time. It entails lots of photos and requires more of my time than most people want to pay for. It would be reckless if not downright unprofessional for me to advise colors without seeing exactly what I’m doing. It would be like a doctor diagnosing an illness without seeing his patient.ReplyCancel

  • Gigi - September 8, 2015 - 3:46 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Yet another crazy white paint experimenter here . . .

    I have decided on Cotton Balls for my multi-purpose livingroom, which is quite long and serves as living room, dining room and den. Because it is broken up by different groupings of furniture as well as four gorgeous turn-of-the-century window frames, I was wondering what you would think about doing walls and trim in same color. I am looking for some uniformity. Right now walls are yellow and trim is white and the entire room looks very choppy. LOVE cotton balls – it is the perfect white, and I have looked at a lot of rooms that do the mono-color. Just worried mine won’t turn out the same!

    FYI, this is a back-of-the-building apartment, south facing, tall ceilings, but only gets afternoon light.

    Thank you!

    GigiReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 8, 2015 - 11:09 PM

      Hi Gigi,

      Yes! Go for it! Semi gloss on the trim and I love the matte formulation for the walls and you can do matte or flat for the ceiling.ReplyCancel

  • Kay - September 8, 2015 - 8:01 AM

    Hi Laurel–so good to read your advice about whites! I can relate to OCD! I have already painted walls and trim, but have a question about a custom wall unit. My walls are BM Natural Wicker OC-1 and my trim is Chantilly Lace. I don’t love the Natural Wicker walls, but am willing to live with them (could be persuaded to repaint too) We are having a built in wall unit made and I am concerned that the wall unit will be way too stark if I paint it in Chantilly–but I can’t imagine a 3rd color in the room. (My floors are travertine.) Do you have any suggestions?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 8, 2015 - 3:03 PM

      Hi Kay,

      I would repaint the trim to a creamier white and then paint the cabinet the same as the trim. I agree that the chantilly will be too stark for the cabinetry. But if it’s built in, it should match the trim.ReplyCancel

  • elizabeth floyd - September 1, 2015 - 12:15 PM

    Laurel, I’ve read several blogs, including yours, that advise against using atrium white because of it’s pink undertones. But what about us poor souls who have already committed to atrium white as a trim color? It’s impossible to find a light neutral wall color to go with it. The off white colors with similar pink undertones look super pink on the walls. So, I have to agree that Atrium White is a paint to avoid! I just wish I had read the blogs first!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 3, 2015 - 11:12 AM

      Hi Elizabeth, One solution might be to paint the walls the same color. Or, maybe try googling “what paint color looks good with atrium white trim.” Maybe you’ll glean some insight.ReplyCancel

  • Laura P - July 31, 2015 - 3:27 PM

    Hi Laurel, thanks for sharing your amazing insight on paint colors. What do you recommend for white ceilings? Should they be the same color as the trim or a bit brighter? Thanks much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 31, 2015 - 4:40 PM

      Hi Laura,

      It really depends, but I often just paint them the same as the trim and if white, the same as the wall too.ReplyCancel

  • Julia - July 8, 2015 - 4:56 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’m new to your blog and love it too much! It’s humid as heck here, just north of Boston, so I don’t feel like doing anything else today but reading past posts. I am painting my beach house in Maine after 14 years. It has been Monroe Bisque with Decorator’s White on the bead board/trim/doors since birth,which I have loved. I was thinking of doing all white this time and was convinced that I would love this choice after reading some of your paint information blogs. I’m going with White Dove everywhere! I hate “shiny” so I’m going with the matte finish. Is it ok to do the bead board the same “matte” finish? Thanks for your fun and informative comments.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 8, 2015 - 9:20 PM

      Hi Julia,

      Thank you so much! Are you near Gloucester? I had the best pastry I’ve ever eaten in my entire life there two summers ago. My son lives in Boston.

      I’m with you as far as the walls go, but the wood is another matter. It takes the paint differently. I usually do semi-gloss but if you want it more matte, you could do satin. I’ve never done matte on wood. I have seen it on occasion when I visit a new client. It’s not very attractive IMO.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Graham - June 27, 2015 - 6:13 AM

    Laurel – You’re right about China White, as I painted a sample on the walls, and it is too dark. I need to find a white wall paint that Super White trim would go with. Thanks so much for your help. I love your blog!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 27, 2015 - 9:26 AM

      Hi Karen,

      Well, I think that it’s fabulous to paint the walls in the same Super White just not shiny. I had white on white (same color) in my old home and loved it! I prefer the matte formulation. It is flat but washable.

      Of course, test it first. Cotton Balls OC-122 is also good for darker spaces.ReplyCancel

  • Patty - June 26, 2015 - 8:08 AM

    Hi Laurel. I have really enjoyed all of the comments in this string. I commented earlier about having painted all of the trim work in my house Bruton White. I am going to have my kitchen cabinets painted, but don’t think I want them to be as gray as Bruton White. I’ve either read on your blog or somewhere else that cabinets and trim should be the same color, but what about painting the kitchen cabinets something like White Dove? Would that be too much of a departure? MUST the kitchen cabinets be the same color as the trim?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 27, 2015 - 1:25 AM

      Hi Patty, As long as the color has the same basic undertones, it’ll be absolutely fine. The only time it’s not fine is if there’s a crown moulding which meets the top of the cabinet. That would look funny. It’s night now, but White Dove sounds like a good possibility.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Graham - June 26, 2015 - 5:15 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I found your blog as I’ve spent sleepless nights trying to decide on paint colors for a new (old) townhouse that we are renovating. I’m afraid that my painter is going to start yelling at me in broken Italian if I don’t make up my mind soon. Currently the trim and kitchen cabinets are a bright white, so I would like to go with Super White trim, but can’t decide on a wall color for most of the house. I am using a light blue in the master bedroom, as I’ve used that color before and love it. We only get morning and late afternoon sun, as we are end unit with the majority of the windows facing north. I thought I wanted to go with China White until I saw that you don’t like it, so now my husband said that I can go with a white wall (as I am a black and white person). Any recommendations would greatly be appreciated!!

    KarenReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 27, 2015 - 1:23 AM

      Oh, that’s a lot for the comment section, Karen. If you are in need of a paint consult, please contact me directly and I’ll tell you what I need in order to help you. However, China white is hideous in a dark room. I know because my old home was entirely china white and in the north facing room it was phenomenally drab. It is better in a south facing room, but really very gray. Warm, but gray without really being GRAY.ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Brickley - June 22, 2015 - 7:23 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Do you have any recommendations when one is painting over stained woodwork? What should one do to prepare the woodwork? My woodwork is stained jacobean. I love your site, blogs, gorgeous rooms and paintings.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 23, 2015 - 11:37 AM

      Hi Margaret,
      That IS a great question and one worthy of a blog post. It will be up either tonight or tomorrow.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Sartor - June 14, 2015 - 12:54 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’m a big fan of your blog and especially love your tutorials on whites! I was wondering if you are a fan of doing the same white color for walls and trim, for example BM Cotton Ball on wall in eggshell and BM Cotton Ball on the trim in semi-gloss? Or would you recommend using different but coordinating whites? Thanks!!
    JessieReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2015 - 8:26 PM

      Hi Jessie,

      In a word, YES!!! In fact, I had that in my old home. It was a Pratt and Lambert off-white called Ancestral. For Benjamin Moore, I prefer the matte finish which is washable but has a flat finish. And yes, I do the trim in semi-gloss in the Advance formulation which mimics oil based paint pretty well.ReplyCancel

  • Barbara G. - June 10, 2015 - 9:31 PM

    I love your blog and spend too much time reading through it when I should be doing other things. Years ago, I was advised to paint the walls in living room Linen White and the trim Atrium White. What do you think of that combination? To me, it looked great! Then I redid all the bedrooms and painted everything Linen White and Atrium White for trim. I can put different quilts on the beds and hang quilts on the walls, (I’m a quilter), and it all looks nice–at least to me. What do you think of that combo? Getting ready to paint rooms again so would appreciate your opinion. Saw Linen White used a lot in rooms several years ago. Has that changed? You haven’t mentioned it at all. Thanks for your opinion.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 10, 2015 - 9:55 PM

      Hi Barbara,

      That’s high praise indeed Barbara! I also do a lot of things when I’m supposed to be doing other things. I think it was Leonardo Da Vinci who said to pay attention to that because it’s a clue to what you SHOULD be doing! hmmmmm… I’ll be honest, I’ve never used atrium white. But again, white trim isn’t really that difficult unless the colors really clash. Dove white and linen white are a popular combo. Linen white is in my post about the 20 great shades of white paint. I’m sure it’s linked to this post. Linen is a very nice color for warmer deeper colors. It can work for walls but needs a lot of light or it can look dingy. The sunroom with the teal pillows and small white sofas is painted linen white.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia - June 10, 2015 - 10:25 AM

    Hi, Laurel,

    I just found this great site and have now gone back over many postings – fabulous and will a regular for me!

    I found you as I am looking for a great, soft white for a room with huge windows and southern exposure but no direct sun because of mature tree!! Currently has a yellow (past owner) that I don’t care for.

    I was looking at these great pictures. Can you tell me what that white is that you saw at an inn in Boston while visiting your son? It looks to be a beauty.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 10, 2015 - 3:53 PM

      Hi Cynthia,
      First of all, I heard that you were speaking to a colleague of mine that I know from a facebook interior design group! That is just too, too funny, but proves what I always say… There really are only about 500 people in the world!

      To answer your question— I have no idea. In fact, my photo was so bad, I had to do a LOT of photo editing on that one. But the mouldings are exquisite aren’t they? And that is actually the secret more than anything else. Gorgeous architectural detailing is always going to look beautiful. It really depends on the lighting which color will work the very best. Thanks for the lovely comment!ReplyCancel

      • Cynthia - June 11, 2015 - 2:43 PM

        Hi, Laurel!

        Thanks for the reply; yes, the detail in that picture is exquisite! And, yes, I met this wonderful woman that knew exactly who you were, etc. That was exciting. Small world. She was just great and very helpful.

        Read your most recent post and so sorry you are having difficulties! “Crazy” doesn’t quite get close to that sort of thing.

        I’ll be a regular now that I’ve found your wonderful blog!

        Thanks again for the reply,

        CynthiaReplyCancel

  • Charlaine Miliken - June 9, 2015 - 9:00 AM

    Can’t wait to start receiving your blogs!ReplyCancel

  • K. A. Dunlap - June 8, 2015 - 6:14 PM

    Laurel-
    Thank you for another great post. I’m a big fan of your blog and your straightforward approach to decorating. I recently spent two months agonizing over paint for my living and dining rooms – but never questioned the trim color- my standby white dove is in every room of my house. It worked fine when the rooms were neutral with dark brown accent wall. Looks great with the new colors- two shades of gray blues. When I had the exterior of the house repainted Gettysburg gray- I went with white dove trim once again! So much prettier than stark white.

    If I ever feel compelled to repaint all the trim, I will look at cotton balls too…
    Thanks for helping to keep us all sane!

    BTW- finally made my paint decisions based on the classic paintings you always include in your posts. I unrolled an old Monet print I’ve always loved and pulled the colors from it- finally had it framed and it looks glorious on BM slate blue! Dining room is valspar flannel gray which looks like a deep navy in my light. I think it’s close to BM gentleman’s gray. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 9, 2015 - 9:56 PM

      Hi K.A.

      That is all so cool! I love white dove too and I grappled with the decision with selecting the ONE color. The only reason I didn’t pick WD is that in north facing rooms, it can look a tad gray. Normally, that touch of gray is what keeps it so soft and pretty. Thanks for the great comment!
      ReplyCancel

  • Dana - June 8, 2015 - 9:06 AM

    If painting walls and trim white, should they be the same white? If not, what shades work together? My kitchen cabinets are “coconut white”.(the cabinet company’s name for that white). Thank you so much for all of you advice, and your wonderful blog.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 9, 2015 - 9:52 PM

      Hi Dana,

      Not everyone feels this way, but I adore it when the trim and walls are the same color. I think it’s a very sophisticated look. Not that a contrast is not, it’s just different.

      The important factor in selecting a trim color is to be sure that the undertones compliment each other. For instance if you have blue gray undertones in the wall color, you wouldn’t want beigey-taupe undertones in the trim.

      How do you know? You have to put the two colors side by side FLAT against the wall in a sample at least 12 x 12″ each. If the undertones clash, you will see it. If you don’t see it, then it’s fine. ReplyCancel

  • Margaret Ann - June 8, 2015 - 3:14 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    One of my favorite whites is Benjamin Moore China White. It is as the name suggests, the color is very similar to white china. I love pairing this white with Sandyhook Gray, Edgecomb Gray, Grant Beige, Vapor Trails, Revere Pewter, and I could on and on. China White trim also works well with doors painted Dragon’s Breath. I absolutely LOVE your blog! You are the best!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 9, 2015 - 9:48 PM

      Hi Margaret Ann,

      Thank you so much! This is a little bit funny, but my old home was painted entirely China White. Now, you are suggesting it as a trim with gray colors and I can totally see that working as a soft, warm compliment to those colors. However, as a wall color, it was not-so-great. Especially because I also had to endure rose colored, yes rose colored wall-to-wall carpeting for FIVE years. The combination was totally barftastic.

      I have also heard of other aficionados of china white and am willing to revisit it in certain applications. ReplyCancel

  • chris - June 7, 2015 - 7:52 PM

    Forgot to say what I actually wanted to say in the beginning… You are SO right that the colors one chooses, in the big scheme of things, is so unimportant, and really, no one will even notice once you’re done and no one will care. Guaranteed if you were to sell your house, the new owners would repaint it again anyway a different color, as all tastes are different. Along with all the good the Internet has bestowed us, there is also the flip side…agonizing choices and endless reviews of products that can lead to paralysis by analysis…many, many, many of those reviews are bogus anyway.
    XOXOXReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 8:48 PM

      Thank you so much Chris! I loved all of this! (both comments) There is no such thing as a lovely comment that’s too long! It just shows me that you care and that means a lot to me! xo

      PS: We sold our beautiful home 2 years ago. I’m sure I would vomit if I went in there now. Better not to think about it. lolReplyCancel

  • Chris - June 7, 2015 - 4:19 PM

    Another great post Laurel!
    My story…kinda long, and I hope not a bore.

    I just had my new house (which has not been updated since it was built around ’94 cape cod style) painted from head to toe professionally, 5000 sqft total. Including all trim and millwork, all windows and all doors which were still 90’s wood color, and all cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms, and every square inch of wall and ceiling. Anyone wondering what this exercise cost? In my neck of the woods, Seattle area, it came to the tune of 25 large. Yes, it gave me a heart attack. I had no idea painting could be so costly, but it is the cabinets, windows and trim that go ka-ching$ and take a lot of time.

    Needless to say, the decision making process was a nightmare. But after a few weeks of obsessing and researching, and no previous decorating or paint experience, I got so tired of it, I just stopped cold turkey and decided to make everything white for my sanity.I thought by going white, I would eliminate decisions. HAHAHA (note: crazed laugh). I thought that I could always go in later to paint walls different colors as I grow into the house along with my choice of furnishings (which I don’t have the foggiest yet about how to do…HELP Laurel! I do so love the Swedish cottage style with a touch of Gustavian! ).

    So, all white, yeah, that’s the ticket,easy-peasy and I felt smug with my decision, or so I thought. That is when the pain started for real. There are 5 million whites, and most are not even white. I don’t know why the industry does this, but there must be money in paint and in making folk nuts. I researched, thoroughly, probably a hundred of them. Did do the paint samples directly on the walls of different rooms with different light. This all drove my partner crazy…I neglected my business…did not eat…ate too much…drank too much, especially red wine to help ease the pain…Did the whole song and dance…
    I could go on forever, but end result just, finished two days ago, is:

    I used only Ben. Moore paint due to the low VOC.
    (PS: All the floors are unstained natural maple.)

    All trims, windows, doors, millwork, kitchen cabinets, ceilings, and fireplace mantles: Chantilly Lace
    Why?
    Chantilly lace is the most clean white out of all hundred that I tried and/or researched. It is crisp, very white, and has no undertones (at least in the light of my house) and will go with any other wall color I may later decide to use. And, if I need to retouch any trim, I always know what color it is (cause, yes, we do forget!). It is cooler, but more modern looking because of it. And I like cooler colors anyway. I love it.

    Walls:
    All west and south facing rooms got White Dove. This color is beautiful and soft especially when the gold sun from south and west creep into the room. But it was too grey for my east and north facing rooms. But it is wonderful when in the right room and may be my favorite wall color.

    All north facing rooms got Simply White. This color is also very white, but has a slight yellow tint (only when compared to real white can one see it), which is great in the blueish toned north facing rooms.

    So far so good and I love the above choices.

    Now the east facing rooms and kitchen, which is darker for most of the day, as we have a large veranda overhang, and has black granite counters and large island top, got Chantilly Lace for walls too. As my wall testing samples, showed this to be the best choice. I have to admit it looks good, but a touch cold. Especially since I have no rugs, or furniture yet, yet I wanted to stay really neutral and not have the particular white I chose clash with the black counter tops and natural maple floors. It looks striking now, black and white. My reasoning is that all color can be added with furnishings and wall hangings, curtains etc…, so that the wall colors just recede into the background.

    I carried the colors of pure black and white into the main entry way with large staircase. The walls, trims, stair risers, spindles are all Chantilly Lace, with shiny black handrails, black newel top, and black front door in gloss (like a piano)and huge black chandelier and nothing else.

    Master bath got all White Dove for cabinets and walls, as the counters and floors are white-grey marble. It looks splendid and the Chantilly would have been to hard for the marble. It looks gentle and soft, but still white.

    Hope that helps some. Hope I didn’t bore and take up too much real estate on the blog Laurel. Love ya and could not have done this without your blog and tips on paint colors!ReplyCancel

  • Judith - June 7, 2015 - 2:15 PM

    You have the same number for mountain peak white and snowfall white, help! Thank you for trying to make this easier for all of us.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 2:20 PM

      Hi Judith,

      Good catch! Sorry, about that! The correction was made, mountain peak is oc-121 and snowfall is oc-118ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Kraft - June 7, 2015 - 1:48 PM

    Oh dear, I JUST bought Valspar, oil based semi gloss, in Bistro White to paint my fireplace surround. Did I blow it????ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 1:56 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      No worries. I don’t have any idea about Valspar. However, maybe make a little test sample first. Get a piece of cardboard. You’ll need two coats to make sure (unless you’re pos that you’re not seeing any cardboard underneath) and you’ll need 12 hours drying time in between. Then, you’ll need 12 more hours after the last coat because the color wet will not be the same color when dry. The color in oil usually darkens a bit when dry.

      Also, maybe try doing a google search on that color to see what others are saying about it. ReplyCancel

  • Christine - June 7, 2015 - 11:39 AM

    Hi Laurel
    Where can I find your guide to getting your paint colors right? It’s the guide you advertise that is filled with your tips and secrets. Thank youReplyCancel

  • Patty - June 7, 2015 - 10:23 AM

    We just had painted our entire downstairs. i was overwhelmed trying to pick colors…until I went to the Benjamin Moore store! The salesman was so knowledgeable about colors and what goes well with what. He looked at pictures of the rooms I was painting and created an entire color palate for me. I wanted to go with warm grays so…chantilly lace on the ceilings, bruton white (semi-gloss) on all the trim (crown molding throughout the house along with wall mouldings, door casings and doors, fireplace mantel, book shelves, and baseboards), bruton white (satin finish) on three walls in the great room and master beedroom, bone black (it is a light warm gray) in the kitchen hallway, entry and office, and elephant skin (Behr color) on fireplace/bookshelves wall of greatroom, breakfast nook, and top half of walls in dinning room (bottom half with chair rail and wall moulding was sanded and skimmed smooth and painted with semi-gloss bruton white and now it looks like wood panels). I love, love, love these colors and how they go together! As the light changes and moves through the rooms throughout the day, the colors change. So what did I learn from this experience? Pick the colors you like together and just go with it! In the past I’ve always painted a room at a time, Painting everything at once is amazing because there is a marriage of color that will last the long haul.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:51 PM

      Hi Patty,

      Yes, often the clerks in the stores are very good for helping you select a palette of colors. Of course, some are better than others. I had to look up those colors because they aren’t familiar to me. I see that they are on the Williamsburg collection. I do have the fan deck, but quite frankly, between the two big ones, the infinity and the color stories, it’s already waaaay overkill! However, I try to keep an open mind and am happy to hear of successful colors. I’ll keep them in mind. Love the tone on tone with the Bruton White and Bone Black!

      Thanks so much for the detailed, informative comment!ReplyCancel

  • Jill - June 7, 2015 - 10:03 AM

    Ok soi understand that Cotton Ball is the preferred white. BUT, did you say which brand?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:41 PM

      Hi Jill,

      Oh GEEZZZ, No, I forgot to say! It’s BENJAMIN MOORE! Better go and make sure that’s clear. Thanks for mentioning it.ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - June 7, 2015 - 9:53 AM

    White Dove.. love it. I have done my kitchen cabinets in white dove and all the trim in my house the same colour. The walls are greys and blues… it looks fabulous 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:39 PM

      Hi Bonnie,

      I probably use WD about 50% of the time. It’s a great white for most applications.ReplyCancel

  • Tone on Tone - June 7, 2015 - 9:46 AM

    Awesome post, Laurel! I didn’t know about Cotton Balls….gotta remember that. Simply White and White Dove are two that I love and often use. My friend used Super White throughout her home, and she loves it. Let’s chat soon…..been busy traveling. xoxoReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:38 PM

      Hi Loi,

      Yes, I love those two as well. Well, in all honesty have actually never used Simply, but I love it on the chip and have heard nothing but good things. White Dove I love too, but with some colors can look just a tad gray. I have also heard a report or two that it looked a bit too yellow. (not my experience) However, in most applications, that slight gray is what makes it soft and yummy.

      I figured you were out and about. Call me whenever! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Beth - June 7, 2015 - 9:16 AM

    Hi Laurel! We are halfway through (taking a break) painting all the trim in our house, based on your previous suggestions…. Cotton Balls! It’s really gorgeous and exactly how you described. A warm white, but somehow not yellow. It goes with my very, very creamy family room, my very light white living room, the gold dining room, and the green/khaki office, and the greyish bonus room. It is absolutely beautiful in the Advance Benjamin Moore paint which resembles enamel and the finish is very smooth. Of all the painting we’ve done, the trim is my favorite! And yes, having a professional paint instead of family means it is exact and not gloppy, which would drive me crazy. I did ask them to do 2 coats, which the painters thought was overkill, but I like the finish better. Everyone– trust Laurel– she’s an professional and an expert!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:34 PM

      Hi Beth, So glad it’s working out great for you! And yes, the Advance formula which they call an “alkyd” water based paint is very good. I researched it and what’s interesting is that it takes the same drying time as oil and yet it’s waterbased. Obviously, there is something else in there which takes a while to dry and gives it the pearly luster of true oil. Good stuff! Oh, and thank you so much for the endorsement! Much appreciated!!!ReplyCancel

  • Tina L - June 7, 2015 - 5:09 AM

    Laurel you are my forever favorite blogger and I only subscribe to your blog. But I must say that I hate behr paint BUT their super white is yummy. No other color just white. But I love Benjamin Moore so I had them color match it..did my whole beach house in it and it’s beautiful. Please give it a try you might love it. Thank you wholeheartedly for your talents I love everything about this site!!!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:30 PM

      Oh wow Tina! I am so flattered! Thank you so much for that tip. Behr isn’t widely available here. Oh wait. That’s Home Depot? Sorry, I live in a snooty area. There are Home Depots but they aren’t right around the corner. The last time I was in one was after Super Storm Sandy to gather firewood, lest we freeze to death.ReplyCancel

  • Angela Kessel - June 7, 2015 - 1:55 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    I am a faithful reader of your blog and absolutely love it! I just saw the pretty photos of your living room. Do I recognize those pillows from the Lowell condo??
    I am laughing my head off at the two of us staging that place!

    xox

    AngelaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 7, 2015 - 12:26 PM

      Hi Angela,

      You are such a doll! Yes, those are the same pillows, or at least two of them. Can’t believe it’s been two years since we closed!

      Hope all’s well with you!

      xo ReplyCancel