Published on April 11, 2019

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Courtesy of Emily Henderson

Trends may come and go, but white walls will always be stylish. The fresh color can instantly make a room look clean and bright, not to mention complement pretty much any design style. “White can read historical, traditional, or modern,” says Shea McGee of Studio McGee. “A wash of white works wonders. I’m always amazed at the result, no matter how small or large the space.”

Despite that ease, white paint does come with its own set of challenges. Since the shade belongs to a more subtle section of the color wheel, undertones and finishes play an outsized role in how white paint colors look when dry. That makes it tough to select the “right” shade for a room. “In order to create a seamless story within your home, white paints should always be consistent,” adds Katie Hackworth, principal of her namesake firm. “Understanding your home’s architecture and millwork will allow you to select a white that is authentic to both.”

If you’ve found yourself staring at white paint colors like a mysterious science experiment—or worse, if you’ve painted numerous swatches on your walls to no avail—put down the paintbrush and consider these seven tried-and-true paint colors that McGee and Hackworth turn to whenever they’re looking to give a space a timeless backdrop.

Feel free to fall in love with more than one shade, too. “For a modern look, we paint the baseboard and walls the same color white with different sheens,” says McGee. “In more traditional spaces, we’ll sometimes mix up the whites on different wall treatments and cabinetry.” See, that’s the versatility we know and love.

If you like to keep things simple…

“Simply White is easily my most frequently used white,” Hackworth notes. “It is a pure white with the slightest warm undertone—perfect for almost all applications.”

If you’re a traditionalist at heart…

“This option is definitely designed for a more traditional home,” says McGee. “It’s very warm without looking too yellow, but it’s very creamy!”

If you take your coffee with a splash of milk…

“This is a great soft white that’s a little less warm than Swiss Coffee, but creamier than Simply White,” adds McGee.

If you’re a linen sheet convert…

“Crisp Linen adds a touch of history to your walls,” muses Hackworth. “Its white tone reads clean, but it’s as if the color has aged slightly over time.”

If you love a good gallery wall…

“If you’re looking for that crisp, modern ‘gallery’ look, this is your shade,” says McGee.

If you’re all about 50 shades of gray…

“This has the slightest warm gray undertone,” Hackworth notes. “It pairs perfectly in modern settings alongside blues, greens, and soft wood accents.”

See more ways to paint your walls:
5 Ways to Get More Creative With Wall Paint
A Case for the Accent Wall You Never Knew You Needed 
5 Colorful Rooms That Will Inspire You to Go Bold