Choosing a white paint to brighten-up your apartment seems like the simplest thing in the world. But all it takes is one trip to Home Depot (where you can choose anything from “crisp linen” to “ice mist”) to discover it’s more complicated than you’d think, especially when you consider light sources (from lamps to sunlight) and other materials (from flooring to marble). We turned to some top interior designers to discover their favorite shades, and to find some solutions to all of your white woes.
The Designer: Martyn Lawrence Bullard
The Paint: Benjamin Moore White Opulence OC-69
Best For: Working with Color
Interior designer to celebrities like Tommy Hilfiger, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, and Cher, Bullard’s go-to white “has a beautiful soft glow that takes on the surrounding colors in a gentle way,“ he says. “Bold whites can be jarring and appear too stark in evening light, but this adapts to the mood of dimmed lighting as well as bright sunlight.“ It’s also a shade that works across periods and styles, too, complimenting antiques and modern furniture in an equally positive way.
The Designer: Athena Calderone
The Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White CC-20
Best For: Artificial light
Thankfully for those stuck in an apartment without a lot of natural sunlight, not all white paints change shade with its light source, says Athena Calderone, founder of chic lifestyle blog EyeSwoon. “Some whites can be too cool, casting a slightly blue or green tone, while others can express a creamy yellowish tone,” says Calderone. “Although lighting usually plays a big role in the type of paint you choose, I’ve found that Decorators White always offers a clean, bright white—even with artificial light. I use it in my own home, since it creates a crisp backdrop for all of the natural wood, no matter the light source.”
The Designer: Allison Petty
The Paint: Benjamin Moore Wedding Veil
Best For: The bedroom
New York-based Allison Petty of Homepolish is no stranger to working with the ubiquitous white New York City apartment, but likes to upgrade it with Benjamin Moore’s Wedding Veil due to its flattering softness and warmth. “It’s a romantic white that’s not too harsh, with a warm undertone, so it has a softer appearance,” Allison says. It’s not just the shade that matters, it’s the finish, too. “I also like to use white in a matte or eggshell finish because glossier finishes tend to bring out imperfections. White needs to work in a subtle way so it looks deliberate. It’s a fine line between a wall looking purposefully white and just unpainted.”
The Designer: Jeremiah Brent
The Paint: Dunn Edwards Precious Pearls
Best for: Iridescence
Sure, a white that’s consistent no matter the time of day or source of light is usually everyone’s first choice, but Jeremiah Brent shuns that idea in favor of Precious Pearls precisely because it changes, says the partner of celebrity designer Nate Berkus. “This shade has a subtle iridescence to it that allows for it to shift hues and transition depending on the different times of the day. It’s not too harsh, and not too warm. The perfect blend and perfect for any aesthetic!”
The Designer: Mary McDonald
The Paint: Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace OC-65
Best for: Clean, bright bathrooms
Mary McDonald is a woman after our own hearts, with a firm belief that a bathroom needs to not only feel—but also look—immaculate. And that extends to the tone of the paint. The designer, author and one of the stars of Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators says Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace is powder room perfect:
“I like to use this white for bathrooms because it reads clean without any hint of yellow. Bathrooms need to feel spotlessly fresh when going for true white.” We couldn’t agree more.