SIMPLY WHITE OC-117 and When White Isn’t Really White


June 2017 | ROZ MORGAN

When Benjamin Moore announced their colour of the year. in 2016,  there was a collective gasp. Simply White had not been expected. Many people in the colour world do not even regard white as a colour. Others were dismayed because so many North Americans defer to white as a safe colour and would say it is the most over-used and mis-used colour of all. It is constantly an uphill battle to get clients to choose actual colour. I  heard one designer declare that maybe it was an opportunity to clear the slate and start fresh after being inundated with grey.  Except grey is still here.

Benjamin Moore | colour of the year

I immediately went to the website to see the complete colour palette for 2016 and was surprised, but happy, to find this in the top row of their colour palette.

Five whites. Yes FIVE

Ahhhhhh, a great opportunity to talk about white, I thought.

To get white right is hard. It is a colour affected by temperature(warm and cool)undertones and natural or artificial light. If you pick the wrong white it will make your room wrong! If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of Colour theory you will know what I am talking about.

In 2016 I attended a talk sponsored by Benjamin Moore and they talked about why they chose white. They pointed to the rest of the palette which was full of bright beautiful  and asked the question, “what better colour to have on our walls to show off all this beautiful colour than white?” And if you were going to be bold and paint your walls a beautiful bold colour then you would need the right white to go on the trim or into the accents.

Benjamin Moore

All these colours need a certain white to make them look good.  And when you look at all the whites in a Benjamin Moore fan deck there are no shortage of choices. In fact it is enough to make us feel totally overwhelmed.   But if you understand these five whites then you can begin to unstained all the whites in the fan deck.. I will try to give you some tips to using white like a pro.

Benjamin Moore

FIRST, when you look at all these whites you are seeing undertones.    Ninety-nine percent of whites have an undertone. And they are mostly cool or warm.  So creams, and off whites are likely to have undertones of reds and yellows.  Teeny tiny amounts but when compared to another white are discernible.  The cooler whites will have blue or black or green, making them appear a pale gray.  Green can complicate things though because green can also be an undertone in beige.   The only exception  is greige.   It can go warm or cool depending on what it is paired with.

So just a little reminder

colour wheel

And all the colours in this colour wheel can be undertones in white.

It is hard to get pure white.  Simply because pure white does not cover very well.  It can take many coats of paint to cover what is under pure white.  This is why paint companies add a little black in order to make white a two coat job.   

So  here is a run down of the whites in this palette and tips on  how to use them.


This is pretty close to pure a white. This is the white you use for your cabinets if you have a bathroom or a kitchen with Carrera marble counter tops or tile. It is a cool white and goes well with cool neutrals or cool colours. This colour works on walls that have lots of natural light. If you use it in a room that doesn’t have good light it will turn gray and you room will be full of shadows and feel cold. Chantilly Lace is another pure white that you may recognize from Benjamin Moore. This is the white to use with black. It is also great with clean bold colours!



This is a cool white but with a tiny bit of black to make it ever so slightly pale gray. If you want a slightly gray wall this could be a colour to consider. Ice mist as a trim would work well with this white.





This is a warm off white.  It works well in most rooms without direct sun light, or low light.   It is good for ceilings with darker off whites or cream whites.  Especially since a lot of white ceiling paint is on the cool greyish side.



This is a beautiful warm creamy white. Not to be confused with beige which would have a dirtier feel to it.   It usually appears to have a little yellow. Again it is a colour that is beautiful with warm colours. This is the trim colour that would make your warm colour walls sing. If you actually put it on the wall of a room with less light it would probably brighten the room as opposed to a pure white making a room feel cold and gray.


This is a white that some would call greige. It is a beige/gray/white. It will read cool or warm depending on what colours you put it with and the lighting in the room. Greige whites are beautiful on the walls of a room without a lot of light. It looks beautiful with Simply White or Marscapone as a trim.



And there you have it. Five whites from Benjamin Moore to help you choose the right white that works for your room. There is no one universal white that works in every situation. It doesn’t exist. I salute Benjamin Moore for adding four extra whites to help you make the right choice.

If you want to choose the right WHITE call an expert.


Love where you live.  Call Roz at 416-577-4944 or email me at

One Response

  1. Hi! I’m so grateful for your fantastic insights. I’m having a hard time choosing paint colors, but I wanted a very cold, icey white for trim so I choose Ice Mist. On the first floor, I wanted to choose Ballet white, paper white and possibly white Dove. Any wisdom? Thanks so much!

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