How to Pick the Perfect White Paint

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How to Pick the Perfect White Paint

This post is sponsored by BEHR, but all opinions are 100% my own. You can read more about my disclosures here.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

I LOVE paint, it’s an easy and affordable way to transform a space, and the possibilities are endless. This is why I’m so excited to be a part of the 2015 BEHR DIY expert team this year!

Although we have yet to purchase a home, the first thing I generally do when we move into a rental space, is paint it. I don’t care if we are going to live there 6 months or 2 years because painting a room a color you love makes all the difference when you walk in.

What’s funny is that this is the first time it’s actually taken me a while to paint the walls in our home. All of the rooms are a dark beige which gives a cozy vibe, but due to the lack of light it can also make it feel cavernous. I am a huge fan of natural light so the dark beige really isn’t working for me.

I finally decided I was tired of waking up in a dark beige bedroom and that it was time to do something about it. While browsing through my bedroom Pinterest board I quickly realized that most of the rooms had white walls. You may also notice this pattern in my post about rustic bedroom retreats or headboard inspiration.

Never in a million years had I thought I would actually paint my walls white, but all of a sudden the idea of a bright white room filled with light seemed absolutely dreamy.

Unfortunately I made a few decisions on the fly which wound up costing me more time in the end. So I’m here today to share my paint color mistakes with you, along with some tips on how to pick the perfect white paint.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

It was around 9pm on a Friday when I first decided to paint our bedroom, and by 9:30 I was at Home Depot looking at paint swatches. With only 30 minutes before they closed I all of a sudden felt overwhelmed by the selection of white paint. Who knew there were so many shades of white!

I love blues and greens and so naturally I was drawn to a paint color called “Canyon Wind”, which had a blue undertone {I didn’t realize this at the time}. Plus I loved the name, which didn’t hurt. Ha.  I picked up my cans of paint, headed home and the painting began…

At first it was really exciting to see the beige walls disappear and the room instantly felt lighter as the paint was rolled on. When I woke up in the morning it was refreshing to finally wake up to a space that made me feel lighter and happier because it was so much brighter.

However I quickly realized that the room had a blue undertone to it, which made the room feel a bit cold. Not to mention we have A LOT of navy in the room which wasn’t helping the cause. Woops.

Mistake number 1: Picking a cool white rather than a warm white.

Our master bedroom is HUGE, it’s practically 2 bedrooms in one but I soon realized that it would need to be re-painted. Not a fun thought when I just spent the night painting the space! I then looked back at my bedroom inspiration rooms and noticed something else they had in common… warm white walls. Either that or they seemed to be more of a pure modern bright white.

I think that if you have a room filled with warm colored decor then a cool white could certainly work for you. However, I would still prefer a warm or pure white on the walls to make the space feel as though it’s flooded with sunshine and feel welcoming as opposed to cold or sterile.

Update: We are actually using Ultra Pure White in our RV

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How to Pick the Perfect White Paint

Are you thinking of painting a room in your home white? Here are some things to consider before making the plunge that can save you both time and money:

1. Decide if you want a cool or warm white. Or maybe you want a pure white!

Decor in the room can affect the color by reflecting that color onto the wall so be sure to keep that in mind. Lighting can also affect the color.

2. Visit BEHR’s website and play with color swatches.

You can even add the color swatches to different rooms to get a feel to how the color will look.

3. Head to the store and pick out color swatches.

You can then tape these to a wall in the room you plan to paint before deciding on a few sample paints to test out. Or you can go ahead and decide on 3-5 samples to take home with you.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

You will notice that the white paint swatches are broken down into color tones: red, orange, yellow, blue and purple.  A good rule of thumb to figure out the undertone of a paint color is to look at the darkest shade on the color swatch. That will give you an indication of what color family the shade is in. If it’s a single paint swatch try holding it next to other white swatch and you will soon get a feel of whether the color is more red, blue, brown, etc.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

If you feel overwhelmed by the options there is even a handy brochure on white paints you can check out that may help you narrow down your choices:

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

You can also do a google or Pinterest search for specific paint colors to check out what other rooms look like painted in that color.

4. Don’t forget that the interior paint sheen can also have an effect on how the color will look in the room.

I don’t know why but the first time I painted our bedroom I used a semi-gloss which made it all shiny and was definitely not the look I was going for. It would make more sense to have used that in our bathroom. The second time around I used flat enamel which was a much better choice, but satin is one of my favorite finishes. You can read more about what kind of sheen to choose here.

5. Paint the samples onto your wall in the room you plan to paint.

Make sure to jot down which sample is what. I wrote mine down in a notebook but you could also just write on post-it-notes next to each sample. If you aren’t ready to paint the swatches onto the wall, you could paint cardstock paper instead and then tape those to your wall. I picked up 6 samples and figured I could use the extras paint in other DIY projects. In fact I used a few of these on my most recent abstract art.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.comHere is what my samples looked like on the wall.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

If you narrow down your choices you can then paint your faves onto another wall to see if that helps you make a decision. I painted larger swatches next to our window.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

6. Wait a a day or two before making a decision.

You don’t have to do this, and may not have the time to, but I decided to wait and see what the swatches would look like at different times of the day. I figured at this point another day or two wouldn’t hurt and I really wanted to make sure I chose a color I would love.

7. Make your final choice and pick up your beautiful paint color.

By the way, I would also highly recommend checking out the BEHR Marquee Interior paint! You will only have to paint on one coat which is AH-MAZING! I wound up painting our room Swiss Coffee, which doesn’t come in the Marquee option, but it’s something you should definitely consider, especially if you are painting a massive room.

The paint color I chose was Swiss Coffee.

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

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Taking these extra steps when picking out a paint color can save you time and money in the long run, and I hope you found them helpful.

Here is a photo of our bedroom being re-painted. You can see how blue the color looks next to the new white paint. And umm..ignore the dusty fan 🙂

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

It’s funny to think that this is probably the slightest color change I have ever painted in a room, and yet it has made such a huge impact on how the space feels. We may only have 7 months left on our lease, but it was well worth it! Now I just need to finish up a few more projects in the bedroom…

Thinking about painting your walls white? Save time and money by checking out these tips for picking out the perfect white paint! MountainModernLife.com

I can’t wait to paint more of the rooms in our home, and am over the moon excited about picking out paint colors for our RV!

UPDATE: We went with BEHR Ultra Pure White for the walls and cabinets in our RV and I love that it’s a pure white with no undertones 🙂

BEHR Ultra Pure White painted on the walls and cabinets inside our RV | #mountainmodernlife.com

Paint is definitely my favorite DIY weapon of choice. You can easily transform walls, furniture, and accessories, and if you don’t like the outcome, you can always change it! I hope my approach to how to pick the perfect white paint has been helpful.

Do you have a favorite white paint color? If so I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

And be sure to pop over to the Colorfully BEHR Blog to see what my fellow Behr DIY experts are up to!

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This post is sponsored by BEHR, but all opinions are 100% my own. You can read more about my disclosures here.

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8 Comments
  • I just went through this a couple of weeks ago Katie and I know just what you mean by that overwhelming feeling! In fact, my very words were “who knew there were so many whites?!” SO difficult to choose! There are some great tips here girl and I’ll definitely be pinning this for next time!

    July 28, 2015 at 9:39 am
  • Lynn
    Reply

    This was really helpful to me. Thanks! I already knew about the myriad whites available and that there is cool vs white, but you’ve helped me get a handle on what I want. I still have to go the sample route and find the exact white I want, but I’m better prepared to narrow it down to just a few and decide between them.

    I thought I wanted a warm white but realized after reading this that I want something on the cool side!

    December 16, 2015 at 11:03 am
  • Cathy Olds
    Reply

    I absolutely love antique white, have used on regular basis….check it out. Thanks for the tips, have painting to get started on

    December 19, 2015 at 8:20 pm
  • Joanne
    Reply

    I loved reading your article about painting a room white. I have a conundrum about colour(which is very important to me as I am an artist). In our large, light filled living room, we have a feature wall painted brick red, opposite a light source, and it looks really good, although it’s been there for a while. I have a giant painting hanging on that wall (1.5 metres x 2 metres – sorry about the metric system, I’m an Aussie!), and that painting has a lot of red in it so it matches very well. Here is the problem: our local bank has painted their interior that colour, and I can’t live in a house that is the same colour as my bank, no matter how much I like it. I gave been contemplating wall paper, but don’t want anything which competes with the painting. Someone suggested textured paint, but I don’t want anything which will date. The rest of the walls are an ivory colour. Any suggestions?
    Joanne

    December 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm
  • Lynda
    Reply

    Swiss coffee is a beautiful white, I use it all the time. I used “calla lily” as a trim color to go with it.

    December 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm
  • sittingbytheriver
    Reply

    i tried a sample of Swiss Coffee——-too yellow.. it all depends on ambient light.

    February 24, 2017 at 5:35 pm

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