15 Resources for Choosing White and Black Paint Colors: Your Guide to All the Guides

Remember that time when we spent ONE HUNDRED YEARS tiling our master bathroom and then totally abandoned the room and did nothing else in there for months? Yes, well, all that is about to change! Any month now. But I’m always thinking about our master bath, you see. I go in there pretty much every single day. I brush my teeth, and I think to myself, “good lord–we really ought to do something with this room!” That hasn’t happened yet. But this post is the fruit of some of the thinking.

One time we were visiting my in-laws when they were in the middle of doing some renovations, and they called us in to help them decide on a color for their new carpet. They showed us a million or so different little squares of carpet, and they were all…..beige. I must admit, at the time, I thought they were overthinking it.

Flash forward to now, when I am, for the first time in my whole life, getting ready to paint a room white.

After countless hours spent researching and looking at every white paint in the universe (with no decision in sight), I now completely understand how overwhelmed my poor in-laws felt contemplating all those little beige carpet squares.

Neutrals are HARD. There’s so much that can go wrong! The undertones! Maybe this is the real reason I’ve never painted a room white before.

Anyway, as I finally narrow in on a decision, I thought I’d share a few of the guides online that I’ve found especially helpful. The plan for the bathroom is some black and some white, so I’m throwing in a few guides to choosing black paint, too, although that seems to be a much less daunting task.

Resources for Picking out White and Black Paint Colors

Guides to Choosing White Paint

1. How to Pick the Right White Paint: most of the articles I link to start with a list of paint colors; this one is a little different. She gives examples of several different types of white–soft white, creamy white, cool white, etc.–then provides an example photo and a “paint pick” for each type of white.

2. 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Paint Choices: Just like it says: architects tell you what white paints they like and why. No example room pictures.

3. 15 Fabulous White Paints: I like this one because it gives example photos of rooms with each paint color and because it ventures away from all Benjamin Moore all the time and gives some choices from Behr and Martha Stewart, for example.

4. Design Sponge Black Book: Our Favorite White Paints: The folks at Design Sponge talk about white paints they’ve used and loved. With room photos.

5. The Right White: 11 Designers on Their Perfect Paint Color: Designers share their go to whites and what they like about them. No room pictures.

6. Ten Top Designers’ Favorite White Paint Colors: Another short and sweet one. Designers share their favorite white and a few words about why. No photos.

7. The Hunted Interior: My Favorite White Paints: She gives a quick guide to choosing warm vs. cool whites (with example photos) then gives a list of her five favorite whites.

8. Designer Recommended Whites: This is a fun one! It’s another “designers tell us their favorite colors” formatted one, but it’s very extensive, with more photos than some of the others. It could keep you busy and undecided for a long time.

9. The Perfect White Paint: Another of the short and sweet designer picks w/ no pho

10. Which White is Right? My Top Five Paint Colours for Walls: ….and one more! Five choices for white and recommendations for when to use them.

Guides to Choosing Black Paint

1. The 6 Best Dark Paint Colors: Nashville Designer shares six favorite black paints

2. More Black Rooms+Black Paint Colors: example photos of rooms with paint colors given and thoughts on when/how to use black

3. Design Sponge Online Black Book: Black Paint: list of “trusted black paints” with example photos

4. Black is the New Black: Primarily a guide to when/how to use black, but she also gives a few favorite paint picks.

5. Paint Color Portfolio: Black Bedrooms: Apartment Therapy gives five examples of bedrooms painted black and then, somewhat mysteriously, TEN paint colors to help you get the look. I guess not the exact same look, since as far as I can tell the paint colors don’t line up with the rooms. But, still, ten picks to get you started, and a good variety of different paint companies represented.


….and as for me? After all this reading?


At the moment I’m leaning toward Benjamin Moore’s White Dove for my white paint. It gets mentioned over and over again as a fail safe pick and described as a pure white but one with enough warmth that it’s easy to live with. In looking for an example picture, I came up with this one from Traditional Home that pairs it with black and brass accents, which is exactly what I plan to do in the bathroom, so….meant to be? We’ll see.


I find I actually get a better sense of how a color’s going to turn out when I look at it in a bunch of different rooms on my computer screen first than when I rely totally on an out of context paint chip in a store. I end up surprised far more often with the latter.

I’m not nearly as set on a black. I’m considering Valspar’s Lincoln Cottage Black, but, you know, it might just be because of the name ;). And I really like the way Nicole from Making It Lovely’s parlor turned out, painted Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty. Basically, I want a true black, with no brown in it, and a matte finish.

So that’s where the state of bathroom planning stands! Dave is back at work as of last week 🙁 …..so we’re going to have to settle back into the routine, but we have plans to do SO MANY THINGS this fall. It’s really a little bit ridiculous.

In the meantime, tell me about YOUR favorite black or white paint colors! Overwhelm me some more, please!

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15 Resources for Choosing White and Black Paint Colors: Your Guide to All the Guides — 20 Comments

  1. i’ve use ben moore black iron, and also we have theit cloud cover on many of our white walls- i love it! in the bathroom we have cotton balls- sort of appropriate but chosen because it worked with the existing tile best. 🙂

    • Cotton balls! See, I want to use that one because of the name. White Dove sounds so….tame and boring in comparison. Well, maybe not TAME in comparison. I guess cotton balls aren’t very wild.

  2. What a great round-up!! Before we painted our bathroom white (my first white room, too), I spent a lot of time looking at blog posts about white paint — several of these included. Like you said, I think it did help me get a feel for what I liked/didn’t like even though it was on a computer screen. I still brought home 5 or 6 paint swatches and hung them in the room. But, instead of just picking the one I liked best, I compared the undertones and such — all the things I’d learned… but I was still nervous. However, after we got it up on the walls, I was really pleased! It’s exactly the “white” I was hoping for. Good luck with your choice!!

  3. Wish I’d had this awesome post back in late May! We decided that our living room color is just not right, and I think I went through 12 test pots of paint before we settled on the right warm-but-not-too-yellow shade of off-white. (Which I can’t remember now and am too lazy to go find the name of.) It’s amazing how many different shades of both black and white there are.

    • Right?! And I tend to fall back on Benjamin Moore colors, which is a pain because they don’t sell true samples–only pints which cost something like $8….so you can’t try out a million; you just have to rely on paint chips (and strangers on the internet) and hope for the best.

  4. I am keeping it very simple over here. I compared Valspar’s White with Valspar’s Ultra white. To me *ultra* says blueer, but in comparing the two, the ultra white has a much warmer crispness to it and the regular white a more dull bluish finish, so from here on out it’s Ultra White for me all the way.

    I have painted a couple of things LIncoln Cottage Black and it is not black. It is more of a charcoal gray. It’s a lovely color and I will use it on at least one more project – just bc I got the fabric to match, but it is definitely not very black 🙂

    • ooh, good to know about Lincoln Cottage (not)Black–thanks! And, yeah, I would totally expect Ultra White to be the cold, icy, blue-ish one. I think maybe they don’t hire the right people to name paint colors 😉

  5. So. Much. Information. Must. Stop. Clicking. Links.

    I never knew I needed to think about black and white paint. Ha. I always use the stock white off the shelf for ceilings and trim. Makes it easy to touch up.

    As for black, I really like a black by Behr I’m panting doors with – I don’t remember the color – could it be simply jet black? No?

    • The one I’m trying out from BM is called Jet Black :). And, yeah, I never think much about it with trim, and it always looks fine…something about doing a whole wall/room is daunting, though!

  6. Great post pal….and so many useful links here!!!! I have been using more and more white in our house as well! We just did our built-ins black…sherwin williams…I will have to check on the name and I have used BM simply white which I have been happy with as well! Good luck to you! Cant wait to see everything!!!! Nicole xo

  7. Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black is the best black, and I can’t remember what white we used on the interior but that’s the best white. One more opinion added to the list!!

    • You know, I’ve never used Sherwin Williams paint? It’s strange, because there’s one close enough to my house to walk to, but I am oddly brand loyal to Benjamin Moore….I’ll have to break out of my comfort zone one of these days…

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