My “Go To” Paint Colors

All star paint colors that consistently work well in a variety of lighting situations. The Creativity Exchange



Sherwin Williams Pure White.

Over the (almost) 7 years that I have been blogging about paint colors, I have never shared a color palette of my “go to” colors with you guys.  I receive emails and questions on my Facebook page all of the time asking what my “go-to” black is, my favorite gray, or my “go-to” white trim color.  I thought that I would pull together all the colors that I’m recommending (and using) right now into one blog post.

Door color is painted with Wrought Iron from Benjamin Moore. Gray in the base keeps the black from being too harsh.

Wrought Iron Benjamin Moore via Timeless Paper

If you have been following along with me over the years, you know that I only recommend and work with transitional colors that have that near perfect balance of warm and cool tones.  If you’re new to my blog and my paint color palettes, transitional colors are the safest colors to work with because the have a that mix of warm/cool base that makes them less finicky to work with and they will compliment other colors in the space.  These transitional colors are far more dependable than other colors and they tend to consistently work well in a variety of lightening situations.

So let’s jump in and let me show you why these colors are my go-to favorites.  I’m also going into detail why each of these colors work so well to help you determine if one of these colors is right for your space.  🙂


Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams. One of the most versatile grays out there.
Repose Gray Sherwin Williams via Clasen Design Build

What is the prettiest gray that’s the most versatile? This is probably the most common question I receive from readers and clients, especially those looking for a whole home color.  It’s understandable that this is such a popular question with thousands of shades of grays out there.  My go-to gray and the color I recommend the most is Repose Gray from Sherwin Williams.

Repose Gray Sherwin Williams Color Spotlight

Wall color is Repose Gray from Sherwin Williams. Light warm gray beautiful color.

Repose Gray Sherwin Williams

I call Repose Gray the perfect paint color because it’s a light warm gray with a near perfect balance of warm and cool undertones.  No crazy hues jump out and the color consistently looks good in full natural light and artificial light.

Repose is by far the number one color that I recommend to readers and clients and everyone has always come back to me to tell me how much they love this amazing color.

Wall Color is Repose Gray from Sherwin Williams.

Repose Gray Sherwin Williams via

Repose Gray from Sherwin Williams. Perfect Paint Color. The Creativity Exchange

Repose Gray Sherwin Williams

If you want to learn more about Repose Gray and why it works so well, I did a Color Spotlight on Repose highlighting more details about this color here.

Moonshine from Benjamin Moore is another fantastic gray that I recommend.  It’s a little lighter than Repose Gray and just a little cooler (but it still has good warmth) it’s also just as versatile Repose.

Wall paint color is Moonshine from Benjamin Moore.

Moonshine Benjamin Moore via

Moonshine from Benjamin Moore. A light warm gray.
Moonshine Benjamin Moore via Locale Design Build

Mindful Gray from Sherwin Williams is my go-to main cabinetry color that I use and recommend the most.  Mindful is one shade darker than Repose and on the same color card.  You can see how beautiful it is in my craft room/office (it’s the cabinetry color and trim color). Repose is on the wall.

office and craft room multi-purpose space done on a very tight budget.

Mindful Gray Sherwin Williams

Cabinets painted with Mindful Gray from Benjamin Moore.

Mindful Gray Sherwin Williams

Another fantastic gray for cabinetry that I use and recommend a lot is Chelsea Gray from Benjamin Moore. It’s a little darker than Mindful Gray but it’s still balanced with those warm/cool undertones that I always need to see.

Cabinetry painted in Chelsea Gray Benjamin Moore. Martha O'Hara Interiors.

Chelsea Gray Benjamin Moore via Martha O’hara Interiors

Vanity painted with Chelsea Gray Benjamin Moore. Elements of Style.

Chelsea Gray Benjamin Moore via Element of Style

For the darkest of grays, primarily used for cabinetry, I have recommend Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore for many years now and it still one of my favorite colors. It’s a very dark gray with just the right amount of warmth.

Cabinets are painted with Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore.

Kendall Charcoal Benjamin Moore via Alexander Design Group

You can really see what Kendall Charcoal does best on this interior door from Melissa at The Inspired Room.

Door painted in Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore. The Inspired Room.

Kendall Charcoal Benjamin Moore via The Inspired Room

Here’s Kendall Charcoal on a kitchen island. Halo is on the walls. 

Island color is Benjamin Moore Kendall Charcoal. Wall color is Halo.

via Fiorella Design


There are so many fabulous blue/greens paint colors out right now that I love and have experimented with.  I recommend colors like Sea Salt from Sherwin Williams and Palladian Blue from Benjamin Moore for bathrooms a lot.  However, when someone is asking for a beautiful blue/green, I almost always put Beach Glass from Benjamin Moore at the very top of the list and tell them to sample this color first.

Beach Glass from Benjamin Moore.

Beach Glass from Benjamin Moore.

Beach Glass Benjamin Moore via 2Design Group

Wall color is Beach Glass from Benjamin Moore.
Beach Glass Benjamin Moore via 2Design Group

If you’re looking for a cooler blue/gray, my favorite is called Solitude from Benjamin Moore.  I only recommend this color in spaces with no natural light; bathroom, laundry room and closet because it is so cool, the slight warmth in the artificial light pops out.

Wall Color is Solitude by Benjamin Moore.

Solitude Benjamin Moore via Eminent Interior Design


When it comes to navy, there are two colors that I use and recommend pretty much exclusively because they are just so consistently amazing.  Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore is just hands down one of the best navy’s out there. If you’re looking from a true dark navy, you don’t need to look much further than Hale Navy.

Island painted with Hale Navy Benjamin Moore. Sealy Design.

Hale Navy Benjamin Moore via Sealy Design

Hale Navy is the perfect navy cabinetry color, if you’re looking for a great dark blue.

Vanity painted in Hale Navy Benjamin Moore. Studio McGee

Hale Navy via Studio McGee

Hale Navy is also a fantastic wall color, especially used as an accent wall.

Navy wall color is Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore.

Hale Navy Benjamin Moore via Kindred Vintage on Instagram

The other dark blue that I recommend a lot is called Stunning from Benjamin Moore.  Stunning is the truest indigo color that I have been able to find. You can see that the color is slightly warmer than Hale Navy and has a tad more purple in the base, which makes it a true indigo.

Paint color is Stunning by Benjamin Moore. Sway Studio Designs

Stunning Benjamin Moore via Sway Studio

Even though I didn’t include it in my “go to” palette, I do recommend Gibralter from Sherwin Williams as well, when people are looking for a more dark blue/gray mix. I primarily recommend Gibralter in spaces with no natural light because in these spaces, the color becomes a beautiful dark gray/blue in artificial light. (I never recommend this color is spaces with a lot of natural light because it goes too sterile and cool).

Gibralter by Sherwin Williams. A stunning dark blue and gray color.

Gibralter by Sherwin Williams. Beautiful dark blue gray color.
Gibralter Sherwin Williams via Kirsty Froelich on Decorpad


Just like the dark blues, there are really only two or three blacks that I regularly use.  My favorite all around black is Tricorn Black from Sherwin Williams.

Tricorn Black- HGTV Paint Color by Sherwin Williams

Tricorn Black Sherwin Williams

Tricorn Black is not really a traditional harsh dark black but rather a dark black with a gray base.  Again, I only recommend colors that have that mix of warm and cool tones because they will always work with any other colors and undertones going on in a space.  I’m not a fan of true dark black because I think it’s too harsh in the home, which is why I love Tricorn so much.  I believe ever color in interior spaces should have that balance.

Wall and trim color is Tricorn Black from Sherwin Williams

Tricorn Black Sherwin Williams via Jeff Herr 

I also recommend Wrought Iron from Benjamin Moore all of the time for both exterior and interior because to me, it’s the perfect alternative to a traditional black and less harsh. It’s really the perfect mix of very dark black/gray with a little warmth in the base to make it one of the most versatile colors out there.

Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron. One of the best trim, cabinet and interior door paint colors because it's not quite black, has hint of warmth and gray in the mix. Goes with anything.

Wrought Iron Benjamin Moore

This door is such a fantastic example of why I think Wrought Iron is one of the best paint colors out there because while it’s a very dark color, it has depth and the black is not as harsh.

Door color is painted with Wrought Iron from Benjamin Moore. Gray in the base keeps the black from being too harsh.

Wrought Iron Benjamin Moore via Timeless Paper

Here is another example below of Wrought Iron on the island of a home I recently recommended paint colors and again, imagine if that island was a harsh and cool black.  Wrought Iron brings just enough warmth and gray in the base to compliment both warm and cool tones in the space.

Cabinet color is Decorator's White and Island is Wrought Iron both Benjamin Moore.


I saved the trickiest colors for last.  In my opinion, white is the trickiest color out there because undertone is everything.  If you do not know how to choose colors based on undertone, then you run the risk of choosing a white with a pink or peach base that could turn into a disaster. I have a great trick for instantly spotting undertones in whites here, if you want to see how I choose complimentary whites to recommend.

There are really only 3-4 whites that I pretty much exclusively recommend.  My number one white that I use and recommend more than any other white is Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore because it has no strong undertone.  To me, it’s the truest white out there and I think it’s the best trim and cabinetry color because it will automatically blend in with the colors and tones in the surrounding space.

In this home below, I recommended Decorator’s White for all of the cabinetry and trim work throughout the whole home. As you can see, it’s just a true white but it’s not a bright harsh white.

Cabinet color is Decorator's White and Island is Wrought Iron both Benjamin Moore.

Decorator’s White Benjamin Moore

Wall color is Sherwin Williams Repose Gray.

Trim Decorator’s White Benjamin Moore (wall color is SW Repose Gray)

Repose Gray from Sherwin Williams. Perfect Paint Color. The Creativity Exchange

Trim Decorator’s White Benjamin Moore (wall color is SW Repose Gray)

Another white that I like to use and recommend is called Frostine from Benjamin Moore.  I usually only recommend Frostine in spaces that have very little natural light (bathrooms, laundry rooms, closets, etc.).

Frostine from Benjamin Moore is the perfect white to use in spaces with no natural light. Will look crisp white in artificial light.

Frostine Benjamin Moore

Frostine has an ever so slight blue/green undertone that will keep a white from looking cream in artificial light.  If you have a very dark bathroom with no natural light, Frostine is an ideal vanity/cabinetry color and will look crisp white under that type lighting.

This space below is such a fantastic example of why Frostine is such a great color for poor lighting situations.  As you can see, this foyer does not have a lot of natural light.  Frostine was used on the wainscoting and the trim and most whites would look cream under these lighting conditions but Frostine looks crisp white.

Foyer wainscotting and trim painted in Frostine by Benjamin Moore

Wainscoting and Trim Frostine Benjamin Moore via Chango & Co.

Lastly, even though I did not include it in my “go-to” palette today, I love and use Sherwin Williams Pure White in spaces where we don’t want white but want just an ever so slight hint of a warm gray.

Sherwin Williams Pure White.

Pure White Sherwin Williams via Vintage South LLC

So there you go friends!  These are my favorite “go to” colors.  As a reminder, if you fall in love with one of these colors, please be sure and sample the color by painting a poster board with the color first and taping to your wall.  While these are great colors and pretty versatile, lighting conditions really impact the appearance of colors.

Versatile paint colors that consistently work well in different lighting situations. The Creativity Exchange

If you want more help choosing colors, I have a post with my tricks for choosing just the right color for a space by eliminating shades and undertones that you know you don’t want here.

Also, I regularly share tons of fresh color inspiration daily on Facebook here if you’re interested in daily color recommendations and ideas.

Thanks for stopping by today!




This entry was posted in color palettes, Decorate, Paint Colors, Paint Techniques and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to My “Go To” Paint Colors

  1. Tammy says:

    I am moving into a house with pine trim (unpainted), and biscuit/bisque colored appliances. I really only want a white paint for the drywall, but unsure of how the recommended whites will look with the bisque appliances. Do you have any recommendations for this? Maybe a warmer white (which I know isn’t your go-to) would be better, or will Decorator’s White be fine? Thanks for any advice you can offer!

    • Cyndy says:

      Hi Tammy! I personally always like to see a near 50/50 color balance in a space of warm and cool undertones. The reason for this is that our brains want to see color harmony and balance. If a space is near 100% warm or cool, we are missing that balance and something will seem “off” in the space and it’s the balance of tones. If you are looking for a true white that is not too bright for the wall and will blend/balance, I would recommend Decorator’s White. Especially because it’s white on the wall. There are so many variables with white and I would keep it safe with Decorator’s and it would give you balance while still complimenting. If you do want just a little color in your white, I would point you to Paper White from Benjamin Moore. Again, it will blend but also balance. I would steer you away from a creamy white because you may have too much warmth. I hope that helps Tammy! 🙂

  2. GR says:

    Still looking for the perfect warm blue (medium deep tone) for northfacing rooms. Usually looks too green.

    • Cyndy says:

      Hmmm… Have you sampled Solitude by chance? If you do not have a lot of natural light, it could be in the zone or at least close. What about Smoke by Benjamin Moore? Are you wanting that slight hint of green at all or just a true mid tone blue that’s not too cool. I would actually point you first to Smoke (smoke doesn’t have much green but there is some warmth). Keep me posted and we’ll get that the color nailed! 🙂

  3. Barbara says:

    Great colors! I am using Decorators White for the walls and Repose Gray for all trim and doors in the main living areas.

    I am switching to Repose Gray and Chelsea Gray for the bedrooms. Should I use Repose Gray for the trim or Decorators White?

    • Cyndy says:

      Wow Barbara, that sounds like a gorgeous combination! You know, it’s all up to you in if you want your trim to contrast or blend in the bedrooms. I like crisp white trim but I also have seen spaces where everything is the same and that gives it more of a modern feel. If you want the trim to not stand out, I would keep it all the same but if you want to see that trim and get some white into those spaces, then I would go with the Decorator’s White for sure. I hope that helps and keep me posted! 🙂

  4. Lisa says:

    Great post! I am the worst at selecting paint colors and put it off forever. Finally painting a powder bath after living with the color that was on the walls when we moved in 8 years ago. Going with Repose Gray and can’t wait to get rid of the yellowish/tan color that I have disliked all these years! Painted my daughters room Repose Gray last year and it looks so calm and peaceful. Thanks for all the great paint tips!

  5. Hi Cyndy,love all your colours,I have just had my home cement rendered and would like a soft gray with white window trim,could you suggest these two for me.My home is scandinavion /beach,with rope as cornerses and lots of timber in side and out.
    Many thanks.

  6. Pinned so I have this handy the next time I decided to paint. Love your color choices. Sharing with my followers, too.

  7. I will be painting my kitchen cabinets soon and the other two walls will be planked. I want “white” but not sure of the tone. Also, should or can I paint the planks the same color. I like a blank canvas on the walls, then adding pops of color when decorating. I’d appreciate any advise. Thank you.

  8. JT says:

    After a small kitchen fire that caused smoke damage to our entire house we had to have every room cleaned and repainted. I chose the Liveable Lux palette from Sherwin Williams HGTV line. It was fun to pick relaxing color combinations for all the rooms to create a nice flow. I love my house even more now.

  9. Kay says:

    Hi Cyndy, You often mention about choosing colors from a color card where all colors on the card will go together. I find these cards so easy to choose colors. Have you noticed that Sherwin Williams no longer have the color cards with all the color shades? They only have one color on each card now. Sherwin Williams has always been my go to paint but I’m going to have to change to the more expensive BM paints because of SW card change. Any one else upset about SW change?

  10. M. Cathleen McGovern says:

    I am having difficulty finding a color for the trim of my yellow brick home. Want it to look outstanding. Hate the yellow brick but unable to paint that. Any help for my home?

  11. Rebekah Kaplan says:

    Hi Cyndi. I LOVE your website. We just bought our new home and always have trouble selecting colors. We have two bedrooms with ceilings that transition from flat to very angled. One is our guest room and the second will be a nursery. We fell in love with Beach Glass and thought to paint the ceilings, doors, and baseboard another color and figured a nice white. We read your post on whites and were thinking of decorator or pure white. Any suggestions on a white for the ceiling and accents that coordinates with Beach Glass? Any suggestion would be very appreciated – thank you!!

    • Rebekah Kaplan says:

      One more comment, these rooms have ALOT of natural light. Both have a skylight as well and very angled, dropped ceilings. Hard to explain as you can see but not a traditional flat ceiling.

  12. Reina says:

    This is great! Oh my you are so knowledgeable. I’m glad I came across your blog! 😉

  13. June says:

    Do you know of a comparable Sherwin-Williams paint color for the Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White?

  14. Hadley Ameen says:

    Hi cyndi, I just left a comment on one of your other posts and then realized it was several years old! Im not sure if you’d see it or not so I thought I’d try here as well.

    I was wondering if you have any palate suggestions for homes with honey oak trim, cabinets and doors? I have been having a terrible time finding something that I like!

    Thank you!

    • Amalia says:

      Hi Hadley,
      Did you ever get a response to your question? Have you painted your walls? I also have Honey Oak trim, pretty wide and frankly…. I love them since I have it throughout, including the all windows, door trims and as the rooms connect. I’m looking for a color to compliment the wood. Please share with with your final result. Thanks in advance! 🙂

  15. Amalia says:

    Hi Cyndi,
    I am interested in using Frostline in my TV room. It does not have a lot of natural light, I have some canned lighting and adding two light fixtures to the ceiling fans for additional lighting in this room. I’m interested in painting the walls in Frostline BM, please share your thoughts with me on this? Selecting the right color has been a stressful process and any help is welcomed. 🙂 Thanks in advance for your help.

  16. Tanya says:

    Hello, this is a wonderful post with so many great ideas. Thank you for sharing. I have a question, could you recommend any light cool blue colors. I need to paint a beach house, and want a blue but a very light grayish blue in the kitchen and family room with crisp white trims. I’m trying to stay away from anything that has a green hue to it. Then I want to put a grayish beige into the bedrooms. But a color that will flow well with the blue. Any suggestions, I’d really appreciate your help. Have a blessed day and thanks in advance.

  17. Kelly mendez says:

    Painting a basement family room aka kids room.
    only light is from patio doors that faces west. morning light. Plenty of light in ceiling so not dark. what do you suggest for color.

  18. Mary says:

    Wonderful blog! Do you have a recommendation for a gray blue like Solitude for a room with a lot of natural light? Thank you so much in advance!

  19. Dana says:

    What is the exterior color of the house.

  20. C.J. says:

    Loved reading your choices on color (and why) very much! I’m a small business owner of my painting company and I often run into clients who don’t really know what they want. I always get a chuckle out of them saying, “I want grey” or “.. something tan”. Haha Once I show them my color books (Sherwin Williams being one of them) and start explaining there’s about 100 different greys and whites, I notice that more than half of the time they tend to give me that blank stare as if I’m speaking another language but they’re trying to understand. I will have to share your blog with them! I’m also a bit tickled about your choices of BM Chelsea Grey and SW Mindful Grey. I, too, have suggested (and used) them both for cabinets and wall color when remodeling a kitchen for a client! Haha I will definitely have to try out some of the other colors you’ve suggeste!

  21. Ann says:

    Hi Cyndy:
    I want to paint my front door wrought iron grey. What colors do you recommend for exterior siding and trim to go with it? I also have a small section on the bottom half of the front of my house that’s brick. I’m considering painting it as well – Probably the same color as the siding. What do you think?
    Thanks, Ann

  22. Sherri Mitchell says:

    My oldest son (who is artsy) is 22 and we are really having a hard time committing to colors for his room that so desperately needs it (old boat border and cloud wallpaper really need to come down as well as the cheap chair rail thing we had going on). He wants and likes Accessible Beige (SW7036) because he used to work for SW paint and knew/remembered that popular one. We also chose 2 different greys Ominous Cloud (5044 Clark & Kensington) and Mysterious Gray (N-C19 Clark & Kensington). I saw something really cool with a painted blue ceiling as shown on the 2016 DIY Coastal Cabin Winner (page: ) where the ceiling color goes down on to the wall a bit. Originally he liked that blue color shown on that above link page, but now chose something so dark (Frank Blue SW6967) instead from the SW color palette he brought home, that I thought maybe an accent wall instead for that dark color. I want to make sure he has enough light and the room doesn’t end up too dark, and cannot see the ceiling being this new dark blue now–even though we think the concept of this ceiling thing is still cool.
    *Maybe narrowing down to just one gray, choosing the boring accessible beige on the ceiling but bringing that down to touch each of the 4 walls might tie in some light with 3 walls gray and one wall this dark color? But what about a trim color? maybe that other gray?
    Obviously, we are so confused and have been working on this with so many samples and many months later…. Help!!!
    (Seriously, we need an expert’s opinion & help)

  23. Candy O. says:

    Hello cyndy,
    I have been painting my entire apartment for a year now but I am terrible at picking colors. I have original yellow oak trim and doors throughout my house and don’t want to paint it. My 1st order of business is the bathroom. It is small and has very little natural light. The tile around the bath is called metro charcoal but it looks like a brown instead of a gray on the wall. The floor tile is shades of gray to Greige. I love gray but am having trouble finding something that will complement both tiles and look good against the oak. What do you think?

  24. Kad says:

    Thanks…very informative!! I’ve chosen Repose Gray as my interior color of a home that I’m rehabbing. Do you think the BM Decorator’s White is best for all trim and ceilings? I was actually considering BM Cloud White. What do you think?

    • Cyndy says:

      I prefer Decorator’s White as a trim color to Repose. It’s just crisp and there are no undertones in Decorator’s. Just pure white. Hope that helps! 🙂

  25. Brenda says:

    Love your choices and my new home is going to be decorated around the
    Moonshine and wrought iron black Doors!! I do have a question regarding bathroom though. It’s very small so I want to paint it all white. Walls too! What white would be best for that? Should I paint everything in decorates white? I will be putting in glass doors on the tub of keep the open feel and a mini chandelier to give it some character and charm. White is so hard to choose for walls. Especially a small room with no windows.. please advise us as i just love your ideas!

  26. Jennifer says:

    I have an odd situation…our home was destroyed in a house fire in June. However, we have a dome/garage structure which was attached but only received smoke damage due to a fire rated door. We will be living in this area until our home is rebuilt. I am painting the walls Mindful Gray. Could you please recommend a door color? These will be exterior doors and receiving a lot of traffic from 5 teenage boys and their friends.

  27. Darcy says:

    I’m trying paint my bathroom. .looking for a gray. My walls are light gray but off white look with my trim the is white. It’s frustrating. My cabinets are dark brown, floor and shower is gray with brown tones. I just want the walls look gray. I’ve use SW paint. Can you help me?
    Thank you! Darcy Bailey

  28. Heather says:

    Great post! Can you suggest a palette for a poorly lit home? I love the blue/green greys but I’m not sure I want it throughout. We have a center hall plan two story.
    I’ve been looking at agreeable grey sw and was wondering if we should try it half strength.
    I’ve found that almost any warmer grey (revere pewter or even classic grey) look dingy in our light.
    Thank you for your help!!

  29. Cara Yeager says:

    I LOVE your style!
    I enjoyed this and will be saving!!

  30. Candice says:

    I am thinking about using the repose grey in my new home to help brighten and modernize the walls a bit more. Do you recommend using the same color on the ceilings as well or should I stick to a lighter color ?

    • Cyndy says:

      I always recommend Sherwin Williams ceiling bright white for ceilings with Repose. It’s a crisp transition and so beautiful! If you don’t want white, you could always ask for 25% Repose added to the ceiling bright white. I hope that helps. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *