Will This White Match That White, and Go with My White, in an All White Bath?

By now, we’re all feeling a little blasé about Mrs. Blandings’ account of how to choose the perfect white. At least I was, anyway, until I spent an afternoon at the Kohler showroom helping a client to realize the dream bathroom she describes as: “An exceptionally modulated and multi-layered, mixed, almost nearly, but not exactly an entirely white, all white bathroom.” There are right around 151 whites to choose from in the Benjamin Moore color system. The Kohler white fixture choices have grown to more than ten. And so it began.

all white bathroom from House Beautiful

It was impossible for me to assure my client that the existing white walls in her soon to be demolished “nearly” all white bathroom would survive the process, so we agreed a new white wall color would be selected. At the Kohler showroom, we made our way through the offerings and I organized them into three categories, all of them white:

  1. The whitest whites: White, Honed white, Earthen white, Cane sugar
  2. The warm whites: Almond, Boucle tweed, Biscuit, Cane sugar
  3. The cool whites, some of which are nearly grey: Dune, Ice grey, Boucle muslin, Cashmere, Earthen white

A logical approach to mixing whites is (usually) a steadfast adherence to either the cool range of hues, or the warmer side of all things white. This philosophy works well enough for choosing wall color, but it grows exceedingly more complicated when we’re in the bathroom. Every surface in a bathroom that’s white will vary in shade depending on the material. The whitest white, in every all-white bathroom, will always be represented by white towels, rugs, or other textiles, like the shower curtain or drapes. Oh, yes, and anything plastic.

all white bathroom

White solid surface counter material is available in a dizzying array of colors termed “white.” This is the second, most white-white, in the all-white bath.

Next in the undulating and modulated progression of whites, which vary in tone, chroma, warmth and clarity, is any white tile, white granite or white marble. The range of white tile, no matter where you are shopping, reveals one single hard and fast truism: the least expensive white tile, is always the most white of the bunch, and white tile floors are almost never truly white.

white bathtub in all white bathroom

Bringing together a mix of all-white materials, painted surfaces, and textiles, all with varying levels of sheen, will leave any all-white bathroom appearing layered and only nearly entirely white, whether we like it or not. Good news for my client, and better news for me once we got down to the wall color selections.

Benjamin Moore white swatches
Benjamin Moore Whites

The brightest whites

In the baths from House Beautiful magazine pictured here, the white walls compliment the lighting and the space.

all white bathroom from House Beautiful

Notice how the very sunny baths, and the baths with lots of slick surfaces and shiny materials, suit the choice of very clear white? Baths with fixtures which fall into the definitely white and warm white category, companion best with the most crisp and clear whites, such as:

Benjamin Moore colors: Cotton Balls OC-122, Brilliant White, White Dove, Moonlight White OC-125

Peachy whites

To add depth and interest to an all-white palette with very white bath fixtures, the peachy toned whites will add a lovely glow, soften very bright lighting when no daylight exists, and leave a bathroom feeling a bit warmer.

warm white bathroom

Peachy whites bring out wood tones, too, and everyone looks better with a dash of peachy-pink in their cheeks. Peachy toned whites are each perfectly suited for the warmth of biscuit, ivory, and almond fixtures as well.

Benjamin Moore colors: Sugar Cookie OC-93, Paradise Beach 911, White Opulence OC-69, White Down 970

Cool, gray & sparkling whites

Mixing cool whites and warm whites together takes practice.

mixing whites in the bathroom

As a general rule of thumb, I’d suggest avoiding any white that has a green or yellow tone for the walls in a bath, and let the warmth come from the mix of materials and the lighting, keeping the wall color toward the cool range:

Benjamin Moore colors: Acadia White AC-42, Maritime White OC-5, Seashell OC-120, Silver Satin OC-26

Has anyone had great success with green- or yellow-toned white in a bathroom? I usually stick with luminous and crystal clear whites, which are neither too gray, nor too antiseptic, just as Mrs. Blandings suggested. See anything here you’d like in your bathroom? I’ll keep you posted on my client’s new bath; biscuit fixtures, White Down on the walls. If only it was really that simple!

Stay colorful,

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6 thoughts on “Will This White Match That White, and Go with My White, in an All White Bath?

  1. Oh, keep going! What are your favorite whites for use with soft brown undertones, say creamy limestones and travertine? And for mixing with colors like Mediterrainian Olive….

  2. Sigh. This is a sore subject for me. To brighten my dark tomb of a kitchen, I’m thinking of trying Simple White (one shade lighter than Moonlight White), even though it does seem to have a slight greenish undertone — onscreen, anyway. I’d use something pinker if the kitchen didn’t open directly onto my main living space, where the paint is all sage-tinted beiges and off-whites (Devine’s Macademia and Whip, respectively). I just don’t have the strength to repaint the main room with all its architectural minutiae, and it’s gotta flow, baby. Or does it? Sigh. Did I mention this is a sore subject?

  3. Hi Lucianna! I am not a big fan of white. I prefer brighter colors especially the combination of yellow and green. But your idea is great. With white, you can mix it with several colors of your choice for a design that you prefer.

  4. Oh Deanna, so glad you asked…Let’s see, my all time favorite white with travertine is Palace white, CC956. The chip looks a smidge beige, but it’s so dreamy up, especially with lots of daylight. Marble white, 942-another winner. I’d go creamier near the olive-Paradise beach, CC 911. If you want a very white white, you can never go wrong with Simply white, OC-117 and Acadia White AC-41. Let me know how things turn out, and thanks for the comments!

  5. Hi Rosenatti; I know your frustration well. I’m always telling people no color is harder to handle than white. Before we get into your specifics, just want to mention the new Darryl Carter colors (you can find them at http://www.benjmaminmoore.com), are a beautiful collection, of whites and near whites, from the master (DC) himself-
    I agree-moonlight white has a hint of gray green. The simple white is more clear. Loving that you want the flow (baby!), and yes, this is worth some planning. I have a good fix for you; go toward the blue-all blue whites will appear brighter (always), and work with your “sagey” neutrals. YOUR whites, live in an odd spot in the Classic color system-844- aloe vera, 865-stonewashed and alabaster 878. Stay in touch with us here, and hope this clears up that sore spot of yours!

  6. Hi! looking for a Benjamin Moore antique white color for my kitchen cabinets. Any suggestions? Ive picked so many swatches but its so hard to decide! Help!

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