I can’t believe in all these years I have never written a post on how to choose the perfect white paint color for trim throughout your home. It’s real easy for me and my clients because from my experience, there are only 3 whites that I use, love and recommend to my clients for painting trim. Today I wanted to share with you guys which colors I think are the 3 best white trim paint colors and explain why we only work with these colors.
Over the years, I have tried all of the popular white trim paint colors that I’m sure you guys have all heard of including; Benjamin Moore Dove White, Benjamin Moore Cloud White, ect.. When I moved into my home back in 2000, all of our trim was painted Sherwin Williams Dover White. Back 10-20 years ago, every contractor and designer was using Dover White for the main trim color. Even to this day, I still see home builders using Dover White on trim.
What Not to Choose
Dover White is the WORST shade of white for trim because it’s a dirty white and on the trim it looks dirty, dull and dirty. Did I mention dirty?! It does absolutely nothing for trim and the color in no way enhances a space or a wall color. Quite the opposite! By the way, Dover White can be really pretty on a wall. I don’t totally hate this color.
White trim looks best when it’s a subtle crisp white contrast to the wall color but not so crisp and bright of a white that is a bright jarring white. The magic happens in a space with that subtle crisp white and details pop out in the trim work and the wall color is beautifully complimented.
On a side-note, I always recommend to my clients that it’s best stay away from creamy off-white’s for trim color, unless we choose a white with the subtlest of neutral undertones or we a choosing more of a color. Lucky enough, most of the time I can convince them to compromise with Benjamin Moore Simply White (more on Simply White below), which has the slightest hint of warmth in the undertone. If you really sure you want an off-white trim color, I have a trick for instantly spotting undertones in whites/off-whites here.
There are really only two circumstances in a home that impact the brightness/crisp-ness of white trim in a home; 1) The home is filled with a lot of natural light, and 2) The home does not have a lot of natural light. In homes that are filled with an abundance of natural light, white will naturally be brighter, so it’s important to choose a white with a very subtle hint of warmth that would not go jarring bright in all the natural light. In spaces where there is average to minimal natural light, it’s important to choose a white that is brighter and would greatly help lighten a space without being jarring bright.
So to help, I am breaking down the three best white trim paint colors that I use by; 1) bright, 2) brighter and 3) brightest to help talk you guys through this.
1) Benjamin Moore Simply White (bright)
In spaces where the home is filled throughout with a lot of natural light (which I rarely see) I recommend Benjamin Moore Simply White because it’ a softer white with that very subtle neutral-ish undertone (even though it does have a slight tad of warmth). Simply White will help balance/diffuse the abundance of light that can causing the white trim to look too bright. The abundance of natural light makes Simply White appear brighter/lighter.
Recently, my client built a home that was full of an amazing amount of natural light. Strong natural light flooded almost every room in the home and I advised my client to use Simply White on her trim and cabinetry throughout her home to offset all the natural light that would make her whites even brighter. As you can see below, while Simply White is not even close to being a bright white, but mixed in with the natural light (and the lights turned on) you can it’s crisp with just the right amount of brightness.
One of my favorite examples of Simply White that I show my clients when they have a lot of natural light in their home is this kitchen below painted (cabinets and trim) with Simply White by Studio McGee:
The Studio McGee kitchen has a lot of natural night and you’ll notice that the shade of white is absolutely perfect and no strange undertones jumping out! Not too bright and not too dull and all that natural light brightens Simply White, which in a space with no natural light could be too subtle of a white/lacking that crisp-ness.
Also, in this space below (my client’s master bedroom), you’ll notice how much natural light comes in the windows and doors. Simply White on the trim, door and ceiling is brightened up enough that it’s just the right shade of white to enhance that wall color (Sherwin Williams Sea Salt). See how the white is still crisp but not too bright and Simply White has that neutral-ish undertone that in natural light looks like a true white.
The office below was painted with Benjamin Moore Beach Glass and this was one of the only rooms in my client’s home that didn’t have a lot of natural light. You can see that Simply White appears just a little duller. While it’s still pretty and a true white, it’s not as crisp as the other spaces in the home. However, we needed to carry the same color through the home.
If my client had a home with less natural light like the office above, I would not have recommended Simply White but rather Decorator’s White (see below).
Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White (brighter)
In homes that do not have a lot of natural light consistently throughout (probably most of our homes), I use and recommend Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White because it’s a brighter beautiful neutral white (but not too bright). I use Decorator’s White to instantly lighten up a space via the trim, interior doors and cabinetry and it compliments every wall color. It also has the subtile crisp-ness that I mentioned at the beginning that is updated, fresh and helps to make a space light and airy. Decorator’s White is a cool white with a very slight gray undertone that makes it one of the most neutral whites that I use.
In another client home below, we used Sherwin Williams Repose Gray on the walls throughout the home and all the trim work, cabinetry and interior doors were painted with Decorator’s White. While there is a lot of windows and natural light in this home, the home has a lot of trees around it and there are some areas where the natural light is not as consistent and strong.
You can see how Decorator’s White in this space again is a true beautiful white that is not jarring white but more of a subtle bright white. You can really see what I mean by looking at the kitchen in my client’s home where all the cabinetry and trim are painted with Decorator’s White.
3) Benjamin Moore Super White (brightest)
For those people looking who want a gorgeous even brighter/crisp white for trim, cabinetry and doors, I recommend Benjamin Moore Super White. Personally, I think Benjamin Moore Super White is as bright of a white as I think anyone should go (yes, there are brighter whites). I love this color in spaces that do not have an abundance of natural light and want to greatly lighten things up in the space.
You can see below how this darker hallway is really brightened up with Benjamin Moore Super White on the trim and doors. It’s so fresh, light and really updated!
You can also see below how Super White is a brighter very crisp white that really enhances the wall color as well.
I really hope this helps as you choose trim, cabinetry and interior door colors.
If you’re looking for more tips for choosing paint colors or my “Go-To” colors, you can find my list here.
Thanks so much for stopping by today friends!