The Final Word On White Walls, A Lesson Learned & My Favorite White Paint

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I’ve always said you’re either a white wall person or you’re not. And in general, there isn’t much overlap between the two. At my last house, I met a neighbor once who started telling me about how much work he had to do to his house when he moved in, like painting all the walls because Can you believe every wall was white?! He hadn’t been in my house yet so he didn’t know that I had all the walls painted white when we bought it. It never occurred to him that some people actually prefer white walls and I know that a lot of people feel the same way- that white is ho-hum, blah, plain, boring, etc. On the other hand, white wall people like me can’t live with anything else. The more I try to branch out and put color on walls, the more certain I become that I’m a white wall person.

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Before moving in, I had all the walls in our current house painted white too. The only exceptions were the master bedroom and half of the dining room. I chose a pale blue gray for those two rooms and I only did that because I felt pressured to put at least a little color somewhere. It’s a really pretty shade so I’m absolutely fine with it but there have been more than a few moments when I wished I had just painted them white too.

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This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate color on walls. I do. Some of my all time favorite rooms in the design world have walls ranging the whole spectrum of colors. But for me to live in, it has to be white.

So this brings me to the lesson learned.

As you know, I made the decision to lacquer the wall in the master bedroom entry blue. I researched the easiest and simplest way that would yield the best results and concluded that the Hollandlac line from Fine Paints of Europe was the answer. I sent away for some information, decided on the color Summer Sky and placed an order. Even though I had my painter scheduled to come for the other projects on my list, when the paint arrived, I thought I’d tackle this project myself since it was just one wall. (Painting is not my forte but neither is waiting.) Well, it turned out pretty much how I expected. The shine on it was super glossy and the color was really pretty and yet….

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I knew almost instantly it was not for me. I decided to give it a chance for at least a little while and when I got back from my spring break I looked at it again with fresh eyes. That basically cemented what I knew all along: I’m a white wall person and there’s just no getting around it.

Now I’ve always treated my house like a lab to test out ideas, knowing that not all of them will work out. There are going to be failures along the way – like this one. When that happens, the best you can do is fix what you can, learn from it and move on. It’s no different than in life, really.

So, when the painter came to do the kitchen last week I asked him to undo what I had done. Thankfully, paint is just paint. A couple of coats of white and bam, it’s as if the whole crazy episode never even happened. (Can you just picture the husband shaking his  head in the background?)

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Finally, not a week goes by without someone asking me for white paint suggestions or which white I used in my houses. My answer is always the same: Benjamin Moore White 01 which is also sometimes called Number One or Pure White. More recently, they’ve started calling it Super White (PM-1). This has always been and always will be my favorite white. The reason is it’s the purest white I’ve come across that is not too warm or too cold and with no discernible undertones.

So that’s it. The final word. Now, let’s take an informal poll. Are you a white wall person? I’d love to know!

(Photos: 1.Elle Decor 2,3.Skona Hem 4.FROM THE RIGHT BANK 5.Benjamin Moore)

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25 comments

  1. I am a “depends on the room” kind of person. My own home is from the ’20s, a Tudor-wannabe. It still has its original oak (dark, perhaps due to age) moldings and trim, and a large, brick fireplace with black (!), original mortar. A few of the rooms are quite dark. White just wouldn’t work here. It’d look gray. Gloomy, gloomy gray. The white would make the trim look choppy (it’s not beefy enough to work with light walls) and make the fireplace look even more dungeon-like.

    Sun-filled rooms with the right kind of trim (or without trim) look fantastic in all white. I am happy for you (and your wallet, haha!) that you figured out what you love. Yes!

  2. Emily @ GildedAttics.com says:

    I’ve taken our home on a bit of a journey – from all white to super-duper dark. I love the drama of dark walls and the beautiful shadows light casts against it.

    As a coach, I like to challenge my clients to push their own boundaries and explore the colours they are instinctively drawn to, you might not know how you feel until the paint has dried. So glad to see you so bravely stepped out of your comfort zone with your bright blue wall even if it didn’t quite work. It certainly proves the point that it’s only paint and it’s so easily changed!

  3. Aww, I’m sad the blue didn’t work out, but I totally understand. You can probably guess which side I land on – color. I don’t know why. I still love white rooms, just haven’t been able to pull the trigger and go white in my spaces. I feel like I would be much more chic if I just went white (you can see a guest blog post I did about this very subject – linked from my blog)!

  4. Jenna says:

    Yay for white! I’m slowly but surely making my way through our entire house with Benjamin Moore Simply White (after trying roughly 1,000,000 different whites). Except for our dining room, which is Benjamin Moore Evening Dove (a dark charcoal navy blue). My husband continues to say “you’re painting THAT white too?!”

    I would love your opinion on the opposite end of the spectrum – black. I’m looking to paint the interior of my front door black. Do you have any favorites? I thought this may be as cut and dry as Benjamin Moore Black – but it just seems TOO black.

    Love your blog and your style!

    Jenna

  5. Superdum says:

    Yes! When we moved from London to New Jersey I had the entire house painted BM Super White. The local decorator who was helping me out strongly advised against but six years later I stand by it!

  6. Tina says:

    Love your post, as usual and it definitely struck a chord with me: I need ALL my walls to be white as well, always. Like you said, I enjoy looking at colored walls in other people’s homes, but I can’t live in it myself. (By the way, my favorite white is also BM Super White). I do adore your wet bar though!

  7. Ha, I love this! Thanks for the honesty. I have grown to love white walls, but I’m not sure if it’s just because they have seemed really fresh and modern over the last several years, or if I just really love them. I guess time will tell. I tend to paint our spaces a very soft shade of color, and that color tends to be cool: blues, greens, greys….I like something light and neutral. But I’ve often thought that certain spaces (especially our living area) would look great white, and that things would pop nicely against it!

  8. Heishin says:

    I am considering painting my house all white too in SW decorator’s white. Any comments? Also I love the marble dining table. Would you be kind to share where you got it?
    Thanks!

  9. Hilary says:

    I love white walls so much too! Partly because I am passionate about Art and Furniture and I think creamy white shows it off perfectly. My favorite White is very simple Whisper by Dunn Edwards. I also love Decorator’s White by BM.

  10. Everyone raves about that BM white but that brand is not sold in Europe. Farrow & Ball has some great whites.

    I love white walls as well but for my next apartment I will try to go a little Miles Redd/Steven Gambrel! Like you said, it’s only paint.

  11. Count me in the white wall fan club. We just bought our first house and the walls are a creamy yellow, which kind of drives me insane. While I can’t justify painting over a freshly painted interior, my kids will wreck it soon enough and then I can have my way with the white. I’ve always been drawn to Decorator’s White, but will definitely take a second look at Super White. I really like a good stark white. None of this soft, creamy business.

Thanks so much for taking time to comment! I read every one and reply through my own comments.