Please help, color experts! How to choose a better white?
April 6, 2018 7:45 AM   Subscribe

All ceilings and trim in our house are Benjamin Moore's White Vanilla, a warm creamy white that I'm perfectly happy with. Except, when we painted the bathroom, suddenly the creaminess looks yellow and dingy next to the hospital-white of the toilet, shower, etc. Is it possible to choose a better white for the bathroom but still harmonize with the existing white in the rest of the house?

It's time to repaint another bathroom with even MORE hospital-white tile in it. I'd like a white paint that looks better in the bathroom, BUT ideally is also not a jarring departure from the White Vanilla in the rest of the house. If I just go with a 'pure white' for the bathroom there will be a very odd transition line halfway through the doorframe, for instance!

Is there an easy way to achieve this? I'm hoping for something like, pull the paint chip for White Vanilla and go two steps up in brightness (up the chip, so to speak) vs pull the paint chip for White Vanilla and go over a step or two toward blue (across chips?). Any advice other than 'buy 6 pints of random different whites and paint a bunch of ceiling swatches'?

I feel incredibly silly asking for advice on this but I'm terrible at picking colors.
posted by Ausamor to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Honestly I would just go with a pure white and rather than break the color halfway across the doorjamb, break it at the seam between the jamb and the inner (bathroom-side) moulding. I've seen this done before and I don't think it looks particularly awkward.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:55 AM on April 6, 2018 [13 favorites]

Decorator's White by Benjamin Moore is a cool-ish, bright white, I have my bathroom painted with it, I also have it painted in my bedroom where I have the moldings painted with a creamy color. It looks good there, too.
posted by nanook at 8:08 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd go with one of the contrasting, recommended colors shown on the website - exhale AF15-15 or bayleaf 1533, depending on the other colors you are using in the area. Either will contrast nicely with both whites without making the bathroom white too clinical or the vanilla white too dingy/dirty. It might not work depending on the space constraints, lighting, etc, but maybe give it a try?
posted by everythings_interrelated at 8:11 AM on April 6, 2018

We really like Benjamin Moore's Capitol White - it is coolish, but still warm somehow?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:15 AM on April 6, 2018

I have hospital white ceramic tile in my bathroom and used Benjamin Moore Super White. It's a WHITE white that looks pure white even right next to the tile.
posted by HotToddy at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2018

Best answer: Paint the door jamb & the moulding on both sides a separate, contrasting color; this will add visual interest and give you a "firebreak" between the two whites. You could also paint the door this color, if appropriate. Then you're free to use a purer white inside the bathroom without having a mismatch.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:32 AM on April 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Benjamin Moore Atrium White is wonderful for bathrooms. It has the faintest, barely there, pink tint. Test it out with your trim. Our bathroom trim is Decorator White, a bright cool white.
posted by Elsie at 8:39 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A decorating blog I once read said to match bathroom paint to biggest white object you have in the bathroom, usually either the tub, floor, or toilet. Bring home paint chips to sync up. The bathroom is a "contained" room and doesn't need the harmony of matching the rest of your house.
posted by missmary6 at 9:44 AM on April 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all these suggestions! I will get samples of all the recommended whites, but I also especially appreciated the advice on different ways to manage (or not) the transition to the rest of the house! You guys are great!
posted by Ausamor at 10:35 AM on April 6, 2018

Actually, matching creamy white walls with pure white door-frames is very elegant. It's like vanilla ice-cream with whipped cream. So an ideal solution would be to paint all the door-frames in the hallway white as a sophisticated contrast to the creamy walls, and then only use pure white for the walls in the bathroom.
posted by mumimor at 11:20 AM on April 6, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'd go the opposite way -- I'd take the walls three or four shades darker ivory as contrast, then make the trim either natural wood-tone or basic white (something right out of the can) and the tile, sink, etc. white.
I would not use a white that has blue or green tints in the bathroom, since that makes the room appear colder and the skin tone sickly. But I do like a turquoise or kelly green wall with white appliances.

A Benjamin Moore dealer should be able to find the White Vanilla match several shades darker.
Can you get a sample pint, paint a 12" x 12" piece of dry board (small pieces available at Lowes or Home Depot) and get a feel for it in the room? If you have natural light, that will change the color throughout the day.

I did a two-tone effect in the stairway by rolling on Valspar White Pepper flat (4001 1A) and sponging over it with a pint of Valspar Winter Calm satin (4001 1B). This is more time-consuming and the finishes might not work as well in a wet environment. But I was bored and all the common areas were White Pepper, so I wanted a challenge.
posted by TrishaU at 8:46 AM on April 7, 2018

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