Houzz Contributor, Becky Harris
Choosing an off-white paint seems easy enough, but it actually can be tricky. Undertones from other colors in the paint work differently in different lights and can skew toward other colors such as yellow, pink or gray. We’ve asked designers what their surefire off-white favorites are.
As you’re considering each shade, note that paint colors work differently in different parts of the country and at different times of day, and they can even look noticeably different from one side of your house to the other. So be sure to test your paint in a large swath in the room you want to use it in and check on it throughout the day and night with different lighting schemes. Also, look at it next to the trim color or stain, furniture, rugs and artwork you’d like to use in the room to see how it works with everything.
Pointing by Farrow & Ball
“Pointing is a beautiful creamy white that glows but doesn’t read as yellow,” Los Angeles-based interior designer Lindsay Pennington says. “It elevates the standard white wall by adding depth and dimension and looks terrific against artwork, because it contrasts just enough with white matting or paper to set those off and doesn’t compete with richer, more intense colors.”
In this kitchen, Pennington used Pointing as the wall color to subtly complement cabinets that are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Stony Ground. “Pointing is equally happy at home with warmer and cooler tones,” she says.
Elmira White HC-84 by Benjamin Moore
Interior designer Charmean Neithart works on a lot of Spanish Colonial homes in Southern California, which are often full of warm wood architectural details and a mix of textures on the walls. “I use Elmira White a lot, especially in Spanish houses. It looks good with smooth and textured walls,” she says. “It has no yellow or pink undertones, so it looks beautiful with neutrals.”
Mayonnaise OC-85 by Benjamin Moore
“This is a warm white that mimics sunshine, even on a cloudy day,” says interior designer Lisa Tharp, who is used to the early sunsets during long New England winters. “It cheers the soul while creating an atmospheric backdrop, letting people and furnishings take center stage.”
White Dove OC-17 by Benjamin Moore
“I’ve used Benjamin Moore’s White Dove in many projects, including this master bath extension, as all the trim in a beach house and on a sun porch in a suburban home,” interior designer Diana Bier says. “I find it to be a calming, creamy off-white with no yellow or pink undertones. It’s perfect with the white marbles that are so popular right now for kitchens and baths.” She also notes that it works with both warm and cool colors equally well (except with yellow, where she prefers the crisp contrast of a brighter white).
“I’ve used it with blues, grays, reds and lavender,” she says. Her painter concurs and told her that these days it’s probably the most popular off-white color he’s come across in the Long Island, New York, area.
Floral White OC-29 by Benjamin Moore
Interior designer Jenni Leasia calls this shade “under the radar.” She’s found that it works well in the Pacific Northwest, where gray skies are common. In this photo, she used it on all the trim and cabinetry.
“I have used it on ceilings in a house where we wanted to keep them bright but soft,” she says. “It’s perfect for cabinetry, where clients want white, but not bright white. Sometimes when we show a swatch to a client, they will think it is too creamy, but it really reads as white — a soft, creamy, easy-to-live-with white.” Depending on the light, the designer says, sometimes it reads a little more white, sometimes a little more creamy, but it never looks yellow or washed-out gray.
Devine Pecan by Devine Color
“We used Devine Pecan as the color for the living room and dining room of this transitional style remodel,” says interior designer Michelle Ruber of Portland, Oregon. “The color works well with the dark woodwork, allowing it to contrast and blend.” Her client wanted to make sure the walls had a warm undertone rather than a stark contrast against the wood. “This almost pulls pink, in the photo more than in person, which is what she desired for the warm feeling,” she says.
Dover White SW 6345 by Sherwin-Williams
“The majority of my clients select this soft white for their kitchen cabinet color because it feels white but is not a harsh or antiseptic white,” says interior designer Tracey Stephens, who specializes in kitchen and bath design in northern New Jersey. “It is the ideal warm neutral color because it pairs well with a wide range of tile, countertop and wall colors.”
Slipper Satin by Farrow & Ball
“Slipper Satin worked perfectly in this room because the windows faced north, and the light was a little cold,” says interior designer Kirsten Kaplan, who designs in the Middle Atlantic region. “So we warmed it up, and now it’s inviting even on the grayest days.”
Ask a Professional for More Paint Recommendations
Complement Off-White Walls With Colorful Furniture
Bringing Beige Back in a World Gone Gray