How to Choose the Right White

I’m a huge advocate for using white in your home. I’ve had people try and tell me that it’ll make your home look boring, or like an 80’s apartment building; but seriously, if done right, it’s modern, warm and very eclectic. How to choose the right white is the hardest part. Benjamin Moore, I feel, has the best variations of white, but you MUST try them on your walls in multiple places.  Your home will look pulled together and spacious if you use two different whites (wall and trim) that have just enough depth and are used throughout.

For example, I knew with my home, I needed a white that would carry through the living room, dining room, kitchen, mudroom, and through the upstairs hallway. That’s a heavy load!! That’s a white that needs to look good in three different directional lighting, both dark and natural light, and different working spaces. Naturally, I picked 10 different samples (yes, thinking back that was wayy too many and I was completely overwhelmed).


I understand this is a horrible picture, but it’s the only one I could find at this stage in the game.

The first whites I chose were the popular ones I was seeing in the blogosphere:


ancient ivory

{Lauren Liess}

As you can see, this white looks bright, beautiful; however, on my walls- GREEN! The undertones were distinctly green, and slightly dirty.




{Lauren Liess}

Seashell was actually a really nice color on the wall, but it lacked some depth.


simply white


{Almost Home Blog}

Simply white is BRIGHT white people. With kids, there is no way this is an option. Without kids, I wouldn’t recommend if you aren’t going to furnish with high contrasting furniture or bright white as seen here.




{The Enchaned Home}

Cloud white is stunning, but it leaned on the cooler side if you don’t have a lot of light. In our farmhouse, there are hardly ANY overhead lights, so in the rooms that wouldn’t have a lot of lamps, it wouldn’t fair well.


white dove



This color was an off-white, but still seemed very white. We actually chose this for our trim, and looks perfect. In the day time, it is very clean, but just not blinding as your typical builders or decorator’s white.


navajo white



AKA yellow. This read almost like a beige-yellow. If you have a lot of natural light and you’re going for a Mediterranean vibe, this is totally you’re white-definitely, not what I was going for.





I actually liked this one. It’s sort of grey and aged; however, since my white needed to pull duty in the kitchen and I knew I was going to be using subway tile, I wanted to stay clear from anything that would look ‘dirty’; however, if you ever need a white and you have an aged home or plaster even, this would be a great color!


natural cream


{Garden Web}

I have no idea why I grabbed this one; I think I saw the name, and thought that it would be just as it sounds. It was extremely dark (see wall color).


creamy white



Really pretty, but just very bright; almost along the lines of Simply white. This would be a really pretty trim. In fact, for a really small room, I would suggest doing this color eggshell on the walls + trim,and then flat on the ceiling.



acadia w hite


{Enchaned Home}

This is the color I ended up going with. PLEASE NOTE! Depending on how often your paint store changes it’s chips, it’s also called “Ivory White” and there are two different “Acadia White” formulas if you have a different paint store match. The one I used was the AF version. This color was the most neutral cream. It’s rich and deep looking. In the daylight it’s fresh and very clean, but at the same time, it has character.

PAINTING TIP!! When you are looking on the paint websites, look for the LRV number (Light Reflectance Value).  This is how much light and heat the color will reflect. Black will reflect 0. White will reflect 100. Here’s Acadia White from the Benjamin Moore website.



So you can see it’s not super bright. So when you are trying to pick out a white, you can compare them to see which one is really going to be lighter or darker when they dry. Hope that helps.

Also, choose a really good painter. We chose an acquaintance who had painted our previous home. He gave us a great price, but we knew he would be slow. All of our walls needed to be prepped. You could see every drywall seam, tape and nail. This guy was super nice, but he just stopped showing up. Positive note, we got a spotlight, some saw horses, and a dolly from him. Downside, our house has taken over two months to paint! We ended up hiring a company who again needed to be pointed out constant touch ups, but at least the majority is completed.

Keep in mind, the trim and heaters aren’t painted, these are mid-progress shots.


midway painting midway painting2 midway painting3 midway painting4





9 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right White

  1. Pingback: Freshen Your Home for the New Year -- Paint! | Laurel Home Blog

  2. Hi! Great post. I have a WP plugin which selects complimentary posts that they recommend which you can select or not. It’s supposed to help with SEO. (maybe.) This post was one that was chosen because mine is about freshening your home with paint. I very much like your assessment of those colors. White is probably the most difficult color of all! Best, Laurel

  3. I have looked in the AF series for Acadia and cannot find it. But, at my paint store, they do have the two Acadia paints. Numbers are, AC-41 and OC-38. The paint chip OC-38 looks lighter. But the store employees looked up both numbers and they are exactly the same formula. Can you give me more information about one of them being in the AF group, please? I love Ivory White! Thank you very much! Kellie

  4. I just discovered BM Ivory White OC-38 (BM store told me it was the same formula as Acadia White AC-41)and I think it may be the best warm white to appear fresh and neutral without being cream or yellow for my house. Love it. I love many other BM whites but they are all too stark for my space. However, I don’t know which BM white I should use on the crown moulding and the ceiling with my choice of Ivory White. Anyone have a suggestion?

    • Hi Margot- BM Ivory White OC-38 and Acadia White AC-41 are the same white. They did a renaming a few years ago. I completely agree with you that it appears fresh, but has this very soft appearance with out being yellow. I used the AC-41 formula (they have both formulas available at any store), on my walls in eggshell, I used AC-41 flat on my ceilings, and White Dove on my trim for all moldings. It came out beautifully.

      Using the same wall color, but in a flat formula on your ceiling makes your room go on for days. The white dove compliments Acadia white really well, but make sure you test to make sure it’s to your taste. Another suggestion if you’re into the Scandinavian, or Rustic Hardware look and feel, is to keep it all very monochromatic and to just go with a high gloss formula of the Acadia White for your moldings, that way it will help elongate your ceilings not only by color matching, but by reflecting the light with the glossy formula.

      Re-post pictures, or comment after you’ve made your decision- I’d love to know!

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