Choosing the right white for your color palette

I LOVE when Benjamin Moore puts out its Color of the Year. Not because I care about the actual color, although, that is fun … but more marketing than trend.  No I actually love the booklet they put out which includes a palette of colours.  I love the booklet for two reasons:

  1. I find that there is always an important trend indicator for colour and where it is going in the year ahead.
  2. I usually find colors that I have missed hidden in  and amongst the  thousands of colors in Benjamin Moore’s color collection.

The 2016 Color trend Booklet was an exceptional year and one of my favourites.  A lot of the colours in that booklet are still current today.    Their colour of the year in 2016,  was Simply White and  there was a collective gasp when it was announced.  Some people in the colour world do not even regard white as a colour.   It is … Others were dismayed because too many people defer to white or beige as  safe colors ….. they aren’t ….  A designer, I admire, had a more optimistic outlook and declared 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
Benjamin Moore | colour of the year

That year there were 5 whites.  Yes 5, unheard of in a single palette.

Five whites. Yes FIVE

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

To get white right is hard. It is a neutral colour with undertones. It can be warm or cool and  everchanging in natural or artificial light. If you pick the wrong white it will make your room wrong!
Here is the key thing, that year, the color of the year was not really about white.  It was about color and getting the right white into you color palette.  The rest of the palette for 2016  was full of bright beautiful colour.    So then we end up with two questions.  “what colour to have on our walls to show off all this beautiful colour in upholstery, carpets or art and the answer is …… the right white.   Or if you choose to be bold and put one of these colors on a wall what white will you use for the ceilings and trim? ”

Here is  the rest of the palette for 2016.  I would say a lot of these colors would still work today!

Benjamin Moore

So all those whites in the top row had purpose.  Because all the colours in the lower rows needed one of those whites …. The right white to go with each one.

And when you look at all the whites in the off white collections how do you choose the right white 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 either 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

Color Wheel
Color 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 colored pigment 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 with lots of natural light. Used in a room without direct sunlight,  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 creamy whites like Cloud White.  Especially since a lot of white ceiling paint is on the cool greyish side. And just looks wrong with warm whites.  Although painters have been telling us otherwise for years.




This is a beautiful warm creamy white. Not to be confused with beige which would have a dirtier feel to it.   It 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 or vice versa.


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.

Here is Benjamin Moore’s Colour of the year for 2019  Benjamin Moore

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

Color Changes Everything.  Live Beautifully and colorfully.

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