how to choose the perfect white paint

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a question i am asked so frequently is about how to choose white paint and what colors are on our walls, you’d think white paint is white paint, but it can be a really tricky decision! i struggle choosing any paint, but white can be the most challenging because it’s such there are so many different shades of it.

for our newly renovated master bathroom, i went with EasyCare Paint’s Coconut Water in a satin finish. we painted our house prior to moving in and way prior to having arlo, so now that he’s here, i really appreciate using a paint that is low VOC (and certified by the asthma and allergy foundation because it minimizes irritants and pollutants in the air!)

, especially in a less ventilated space like the bathroom. and the scent of the paint was actually so mild– unlike that intense smell of paint that we’re all used to.

i am really happy with the color we chose because i wanted a shade that blended with our plaster shower, but it’s not always as simple as matching your white paint to an element of the room, sometimes it’s way more complicated! so here is my advice that will hopefully help you a bit…

compare compare compare

a swatch might look like the absolute perfect shade of neutral white on it’s own, but then when you hold it up to another and realize it’s totally yellow. it’s much easier to pick out the perfect shade of white when you look at it relatively! collect all of the whites that you’re drawn to and look at them together. it’s much easier to determine the tint of each white this way.

look for the undertones

i tend to like un-tinted white paints because they don’t lean too warm or too cool, they are just absolutely neutral. but for people who are afraid of their white walls looking stark, those hints of color can actually help. yellow undertones in the white will give it a warmer look, and blue undertones give the paint a brighter, cooler look. i think warm whites can tend to look dingier sooner, so if you’re worried about a yellow vibe, lean towards cool! it’s also a little more modern.

always test the paint first

it’s one thing to find a swatch you feel great about, but it’s pretty crucial to actually test the paint at home. samples are cheap to purchase and worth the time commitment, especially if you’re choosing paint for your entire house! the lighting in a hardware store will never be anything like it will be in your house, and taking the swatches outside won’t help you either if you’re painting the interior! EasyCare Paint sample kits actually have paintable clear film so that you can even move it around and see in different light conditions (and you don’t have to commit to painting on your wall!) samples are cheap enough that if you’re between two shades, buy them both and paint side by side– it’s much easier to determine the winner this way!

consider what’s in the room

choosing the paint color for our new bathroom was so easy because of the plaster shower– so think about what else is in the space because the white will play off everything else. if everything in the space is on the warm side, stick with a warm and do the same for cool.

consider the sheen

when you’re choosing the finish of your paint, it’s always best to think about what type of room it is (how clean the walls will stay) and the light in that space. throughout our house, our walls are painted flat and the baseboards are semi gloss. the shinier the paint sheen, the easier it is to clean and the more moisture it can resist, so for the bathroom i went with an satin finish, also EasyCare Paint is also 2x more scrubbable and low odor which is helpful for painting a small space like the bathroom. i considered using a semi gloss, but because the room gets so much natural light from our new sun tunnels, i didn’t want the walls to feel shiny. satin is a nice in between!

consider the light

like i just said, when you’re choosing the color of your paint and the sheen, think about how much it might reflect. if your room has skylights or lots of windows, it’s definitely worth considering how much you want that reflection (like if you’ll ever watch TV in the room during the day).

use the same color on every element of the room

another question i’m asked a lot, i don’t advise switching up the paint color between the trim and wall and ceiling– i think a room always looks best when it’s the same bright shade of white. now if you’re using a color i don’t think this is the move– but for white, i always stick with one color for every wall and architectural detail, and not just baseboards, but also for any built-in cabinets, fireplaces, doors, etc.

keep your walls looking fresh

people ask me about having an all white house and how i keep it looking clean– i actually find it much easier to keep clean, because i can see all the spots and smudges much sooner than i could on a dark surface. we store our house paint in the garage, but i also keep small sample sizes for easier touch ups (like when you decide to move art around on a whim and need to patch a hole quickly). i also swear by magic cleaning erasers! i keep a giant container of them in the garage and use them frequently when i see any scuffs on the walls. but if you’re afraid of marks on the wall, i definitely recommend choosing a paint that has superior stain resistance and durability like EasyCare Paint does.

i hope this helped! it can be a pain to take those extra steps to make the most thoughtful decision, but worth it in the end. it’s especially waaay less time consuming and cheaper than repainting your entire house!

and ps, excited to reveal the full bathroom this week!

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  1. Stephanie says:

    love this post. eagerly awaiting your bathroom post to see what towel hooks you went with XP