The unexpected lessons I learned choosing a white paint color

There once was a time when I thought I could just pick any white color paint and it would be fine, but then I learned an unexpected lesson when choosing a white paint.

My first experience happened when we decided to take a chance and paint our kitchen cabinets in our very first house we purchased in South Carolina.

One picture of kitchen cabinets, on the left is what the cabinets looked like before and on the right is what they looked like after they were painted white.
Painted our cabinets.

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I also didn’t sample much of anything I literally picked the most popular color at the time which happened to be Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.

I loved White Dove so much I decided to paint my whole first office in this paint.

New two person desk

But y’all I got really really lucky that time because the color was perfect and is still pretty popular to this day.

These are the things I learned when picking a white paint color

1) Ask around for suggestions, but with caution.

Of course my first stop to any DIY project is Pinterest, but lately my local mom swap site someone posed this very question, “What is everyone’s favorite white paint”.

WHEW there were a bunch of answers and to be honest it can be a little overwhelming.

A quick little “ask Google” and it turns out there are over 150,000 different shades of white paint to pick from.

2) It will depend on what color of white paint you’re looking for.

Just like most colors come in lighter and darker colors, white paint sort of does too, but it’s something just a little different.

With white paint, it’s mostly about the undertones and the color it pulls, think about your overhead lighting.

A brighter white paint has more blue undertones, where a warmer white has more yellow undertones and there are thousands of variations in between.

Light and bright kitchen cabinets painted whisper white with a farmhouse sink, black and white rug and brown wood floors.
I chose BEHR Whisper White for my cabinet reface project.

The next house we bought again I wanted to paint the cabinets, but wanted something instead of using White Dove which pulls more yellow.

Not only did I repaint, but I also refaced my kitchen cabinets and opted for Whisper White from BEHR and was a cooler white paint shade than White Dove.

I also built the cabinet doors under my farmhouse sink from Sinkology to look like a barn door.

The Whisper White definitely brightened up the space without being too overpowering of white, but close to a true white.

I chose to use BEHR Whisper White again in my mudroom refresh project too.

3) Buy a few samples of white paint and try it out

Even though I have gotten super lucky in the past, now that it’s time to paint my daughter Kelsey’s room, I wanted to pick a white paint color that she liked.

The best painting tip that I have for you is to keep your sample small, around 4-5 samples of paint.

Hand holding 4 paint brushes with the ends dipped in white paint and on the handle of each brush are different names of paint samples.
Narrowing down the paint colors to my top favorites made things less overwhelming.

Get the color, no matter the brand, mixed in the paint that you like.

For example, I love BEHR Marquee paint, so I had all my paint samples mixed in BEHR’s sample paints in the sheen that I wanted to get a true picture of the end result.

And my best paint tip of all, clear contact paper.

Roll out the clear contact paper, paint on your samples (don’t forget to label them), let it dry and now you can move it around your space trying it on different walls without actually damaging your walls.

Clear contact paper rolled on top of white table with various small paint sample bottles holding it down. Hand writing out name of one of the paint swatches painted on the clear contact paper.
Using the clear contact paper allowed me to see the color samples and move it around my space.

Once you narrow it down you can paint larger swatches of the sample paint on more clear contact paper to get an even better idea of what the color will look like in your space.

Clear contact paper having on wall with 4 different paint swatches each labeled painted on the contact paper.
Being able to see the paint swatches larger without damaging my walls is such a game changer.

As for the color we settled on for my daughter’s room, she fell in love with BEHR’s Winter White, which is definitely a more vibrant white than I have used in the past.

4. Have fun

Paint is and always will be my most favorite DIY tool because it can definitely refresh and transform a space without costing a ton of money.

Worst case scenario, you have to paint over it, which is way easier than rebuilding any day in my opinion.

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