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How to Choose WhiteWhitewhite kitchens

What Everyone Should Know About Paint

I learned something new about white last year when I was working on a project that I finally photographed this past week.

Since the project wasn’t finished until last winter and my client’s home overlooks a stunning mountain view, (Crystal and Rob Hasell, Crystal is the Owner and Director of Studio B Yoga here in Chilliwack) I wanted to wait until the leaves were back on the trees for the photo shoot.

I shopped until I dropped this week, for flowers and miscellaneous items still missing from some of her rooms. Then spent three full days styling her house to perfection prior to the photoshoot. Then we spent two days with Barry Calhoun shooting the house.

Barry was awesome. It’s absolutely true what he says on his website, “He’s willing to run from elephants if it means getting the best shot possible.

He was tireless, and when I would look at yet another photo that he had downloaded to his laptop AGAIN and think to myself “Well, we could move those towels into the shot but I’ll let it go”, that’s when HE would notice and mention it. I can’t wait to work with him again. Here he is on my instagram.

This was the view from Crystal and Rob’s home on March 31 last year, when we were choosing fabrics. Our winter was so bad this year that we were about 1 1/2 months behind. You can see that the colour palette we chose coordinates with her view.

What Everyone Should Know About Paint | Maria Killam

So here’s what happened. I chose BM Chantilly Lace for the cabinets and the wood work throughout the house.

When the cabinets were installed, I noticed that they didn’t exactly match the trim colour. In fact, they looked off-white, not the true-white I had chosen (If you’ve read my White eBook, you’ll understand what I’m talking about).

So I pulled out my Chantilly Lace paint chip and held it up against the cabinets.

It was a perfect match.

Then I did the same with the trim colour.

It was also a perfect match.

The bottom line. Your cabinet guy uses his own lacquer to spray the cabinets, therefore, it will RARELY, if ever exactly match the paint from the paint store.

So one way to coordinate them is to choose a whiter white for the cabinet colour than the trim colour.

I had this conversation with Traci Zeller (an interior designer and True Colour Expert) at High Point Market last weekend and she emailed me this photo to use in this post.

The cabinets are SW Extra White and the trim colour is SW Snowbound. You can see in this photo (below) that the casings around the door in fact still look slightly whiter than the lacquered cabinets which will OFTEN end up creamier.

Since both colour chips will match, you need to COORDINATE the trim colour.

What Everyone Should Know About Paint | Maria Killam

Interior Design by Traci Zeller

So what this means is that you can’t get the door sample matched by the paint company because they technically do match. All you can do is coordinate your new trim colour with your kitchen cabinets.

Now, if you’ve done this already and noticed that they don’t match, now you don’t have to be cranky anymore.

You won’t notice that they are different once the room is decorated, there will be too many other things to look at.

And you don’t notice it in all lights. This is the first time I have ever noticed this phenomenon and I have never received an email from a reader complaining about this dilemma, which is the thing I wonder about the most?

When I looked at my kitchen, I realized that there is only one area in my kitchen where the door casing is directly beside my cabinets and it does look slightly different, but it wasn’t enough for me to notice until now.

What Everyone Should Know About Paint | Maria Killam

Elizabeth’s Kitchen (her existing adjoining doors were already white, not related to her glazed cabinets)

My sister Elizabeth is getting a new quartz countertop on her island to replace the blotchy, gold, brown and cream laminate countertop (above). We will also install new panelling so it looks like a piece of furniture (like an island should look).

Her panelling will coordinate with the existing cabinets and the base will look like this photo (below).

However, Mike at Quality Cabinets (who is installing the millwork) said that it would be more cost effective to have the cabinet side painted on site (you can’t spray the actual island on-site anyway) but then, he said “Be warned, your painted panelling will not EXACTLY match the existing drawers/cabinets because again, there will be two different paints used.”

What Everyone Should Know About Paint | Maria Killam


 This also explains why (and I talk about this in my exterior on-line training webinar) my garage doors don’t match the vinyl siding even though I took a sample of the siding to the paint store. Because obviously (well only obvious to me AFTER this happened to me) vinyl is not the same as paint.

Over to you my lovelies, have you ever had this happen to you? I’m just amazed that no one has ever asked me this question until I discovered it for myself? Well Traci said she did mention it to me before, but I guess it didn’t land until I saw it with my own eyes.

Bottom line, I think there are too many variables to try and ‘coordinate’ the trim colour. If NO ONE has ever emailed me with this dilemma then it must be close enough most of the time. So unless you are not choosing paint colours with a designer who has experienced this many times, I would still go with the same colour for trim and cabinets. However, before you install backsplash tile, I would look again, and make that decision last, in case you have to go with off-white instead of true-white or cream instead of off-white.

Here is yet another argument for why you should go with the SAFE option for tile or countertops (hard finishes), rather than the more CREATIVE or RISKY choice. There are way too many factors involved in getting just plain whites to match but at least you can live with different whites easier than different patterns or undertones that don’t match in the end.

Terreeia and I leave for our SOLD OUT Specify Colour with Confidence workshop in Chicago tomorrow, I’m so excited, I love leading this course so much! And there’s always something new to talk about!

There are still two spaces left for my second course in Chicago the following weekend here.

Don’t forget to fill us in on your experience with different paint companies in the comments below.

Related posts:

White is a Snob

What NOT To Do with Your Kitchen Island Design

Danger: The First 24 Hours AFTER You Take Possession

45 pins


  • Margaret says:

    Okay. So my plan was to paint my oak kitchen cabinet cabinets myself and have the door/drawer fronts spray painted offsite by a professional cabinet maker. Am I going to run into a problem???

    • Karen says:

      No, not going to be different IF they spray the same paint that you are applying yourself, meaning they are NOT going to spray a lacquer version of your color. There is lacquer and there is hard enameled cabinet paints. Spray the same paint you are using and better yet you supply the paint to them. Tint machines at paint stores ( even within same brand of store) are callibrated and the color consistency is the tiniest bit different store to store.

    • Juli says:

      You shouldn’t, so long as they buy the exact same paint product, from the same paint store. Once the color choice has been confirmed, It would make sense to buy it all at the same time, if they can tell you the quantity needed.

      Most professionals use oil-based satin or semi-gloss on trim and cabinets. It sounds like the problem Maria is describing arises when a cabinet-maker uses tinted lacquer instead (Bushwhacker is one brand they used to sell when I worked in the paint industry). These products don’t tint the same as oil-based paint and in fact, can’t even use universal colorants, because they are chemically too strong. Instead, they must be tinted (in our case, by hand!) with the most horrible-smelling stuff you’ve ever encountered, called 844 colorant.

      To my knowledge (and any cabinet makers out there, feel free to correct me), the only advantage to spraying tinted lacquer is that it dries much faster, and so can be recoated sooner. If you are getting pre-finished cabinets (not sprayed on site by your painting contractor), then the best I can advise is, try to get those done first – and then check your trim color (in the first gallon of the real thing, not a little latex quart sample) against the cabinet color for any significant deviation. While sample paints are a wonderful invention, they are not always accurate for very light, clear colors. If the formula doesn’t divide evenly by 4 (from a gallon to a quart), then the color won’t be exactly the same.

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for this post – I’ve commented before how your books and blog helped me through our build 2 years ago. The only white our builder’s cabinet company used was BM Simply White which made what I thought was our trim color a no-brained. We went with BM Simply White for the trim.

    There is a corner of the kitchen where there is a doorway and transom connecting to the upper cabinets. It drives me crazy in low light how it looks like there are 3 different shades of white. Part of it is the shadow from the upper cabinet, part of it is the reflection of the wall color (SW Requisite Gray) but it’s mostly that the cabinet and trim don’t absorb the paint in the same way.

    My husband doesn’t see it, but it made me wonder if I was being overly critical. Thank you for addressing this. I would have chosen trim other than Simply White if I had only known.

    Thank you for your insight.

  • Nancy says:

    Maria yes I know exactly what this Blog is about .
    Did all my cabinets in simply white .
    Simply white trim
    The window in kitchen looks lighter then the cabinets as you see them together.
    But unless I’m wrong here wasn’t bothered by that as the undertones don’t clash.’
    I don’t feel as if one screams cream and the other white .’but then simply white is warmer .
    Where I struggled was fitting in the white farm house sink .
    Thanks for your informational blog .’

  • Nichole says:

    I think you don’t have a ton of emails from readers about this because many of us are redoing existing cabinetry and our guys are using the paint from the store. So our cabinets and trim do match.

  • Amy says:

    I had something very similar happen to me when we built our house. I had only 1 choice for white kitchen cabinets and it’s an off-white color. I thought that I matched the paint color for the trim to the cabinet color, but the trim turned out to be a brighter than the cabinets. So where the 2 meet, there’s an obvious difference, especially in bright daylight. And to make matters worse, I had only 1 choice for off-white subway tile and it doesn’t match the cabinets, either! It’s not that obvious in artificial light, though, so that’s good, at least. I’d love to paint the cabinetry if given the chance, but if that happens, I’ll try to be more careful and choose something brighter. (Our house was only built 4 years ago, so it’s not going to happen!)

  • Sandy says:

    Ha! Everyone thought I was crazy when I complained (commented) that the cabinets and the crown moulding paint wasn’t exactly the same. Even though the wonderful cabinet man said they were the same paint. I thought that maybe the the crown and door front woods were slightly different and that caused the very very slight colour variation. They thought it was the angles. Now I know but I’m not changing it. Just so you know I have a white with grey ,very sporadic variation quartz counter and a grey white marble tile backsplash. Just couldn’t go with white subway after I saw the marble. It looks beautiful, classic and we love it.

  • lynne says:

    Absolutely happened to me – picked out perfect colour to custom paint a vanity and once installed realized the undertone was all wrong. Our cabinet guy did not agree it was a problem. The paint store explained the process.

    I ended up paying to have new paint made and repainted – very costly mistake.

  • Rochelle says:

    I had this issue SO dramatically — but on my garage door as compared to stucco. I guess it should be obvious, but a garage door is relatively smooth and stucco is not, so the stucco looked incredibly darker than the door when painted in the same color. We had to go two shades darker on the garage door to simulate a match. It was a lesson in light and optics for us.

  • carolanne says:

    so glad to here that you still love doing the true colour experts classes… so amazing to have a job you love… I too love love my job everyday…….
    funny to me, I do not do white trim, I paint out the trim and baseboards same as walls and paint the doors in a colour a few shades darker than the walls… keeps them back a bit and not the focal point of the home… now in my condo I have painted my door black with the trim around matching the walls…..
    cannot get past the white boarder aka racetrack of white between the paint colour on the walls and my clients amazing, expense new flooring… when I get them to paint out the trim we see the new floor at it best… just how I design, not for everyone… I guess…

    • Tanya says:

      Depending on the color, I do like the crispness of what trim against a color, but I have done this, too, and my mother does it quite a bit in rentals because (1) we like the look and (2) it can make it faster to get the paint job done if necessary and you need to get a house rented! She had an entire house re-painted last year and did this with SW Agreeable Gray in the bedrooms, and it looked amazing. The painters had never heard of doing it and were taken with the look themselves! Depending on the color, it can give a room an ethereal look, which I love.

      • carolanne says:

        so nice to hear I am not the only one… Tanya, I would do soft taupe beside dark taupe if the trim was antique looking, but never white…
        also clients love that is easier, less money and faster…

  • Thea says:

    Super helpful post, Maria! Am gearing up for painting my “pinky-beige” cabinets white, and now know another piece of the puzzle to get the best results! Thanks!

  • Flying Carrot says:

    Helpful post and described well. But as my decorating business partner and I often say: Normal people don’t care!! That is, it’s our job and our pleasure/curse to notice such things, but most people can’t see it or it doesn’t bother them. At all.

    But something in Traci Zeller’s photo DOES bother me. May I ask why she chose the true white counter chairs when the kitchen is entirely cream? Again…pleasure/curse…

    • Traci Zeller says:

      The kitchen actually reads like a true white in person, so the counter stools work splendidly. They are also a super functional choice for a mom of four young children!

      • Tanya says:

        I just posted below that I am swooning over your room, oh my, I love it! Love the black and white walls and clear lucite chair connected to the white kitchen and blue painted island. Love that choice with the black and white in the background! And the Serena and Lily chairs (I assume), I will definitely own some of those someday, have loved them for a long time!

        • Tanya says:

          On second look, the chair in the dining room is white? In first looking, the light reflecting off the chairs made them look different.

  • Ululani says:

    Great post Maria! I’ve noticed over the years that color will also depend on surface texture as well as paint finish selection (gloss, semi-gloss, satin, eggshell, flat). They reflect the light differently which produces subtle changes in the color. Can be frustrating! In my opinion when we’re looking at things separately- focusing in on them – we’re not taking in the whole breath of the room. Light and shadows will slightly change colors too, albeit it’s so natural to our eyes that we don’t “notice” them. So the minute differences in texture and paint finish shouldn’t over stress us. But knowing gloss will look lighter than flat helps, and your post guides us in the right direction. Thank you!!

  • Kimberly Graybeal says:

    And be careful when using the sample paints which are often supplied in only one sheen. I wasted a gallon of paint, as well as time, when the flat version didn’t read the same as the eggshell version from the sample can.

  • Ana says:

    The situation you mentioned above has been an issue for years for me, Maria. I firmly believe that the FINISH of the paint you choose has a huge degree of importance in the final outcome.
    After finally deciding to paint my home interior a light ‘creamy’ color (using your color cards), I chose SW Dover White. All the woodwork such as the doors, window and door facings, crown molding, baseboards and cabinets were all done in SATIN BASED OIL ENAMEL Dover White. All the ceilings were in FLAT finish, Dover White. And the walls were all done in LOW-LUSTRE SATIN LATEX Dover White. What a stunning look it turned out to be! Each finish gives its own ‘highlighted essence’ to where it is applied. Friends ask me what the different colors I used on each area and are amazed when I tell them it’s all the same color but different finishes! All came from same paint store, same paint company (SW Pro Series) to ensure as much even-ness in the colors. LOVE!
    Thank you for this post, Maria! Love your stuff!

  • Carol says:

    So Im wondering if hand painting the cabinets would rectify the problem? Im sure it would cost more. some people may object to brush marks but I like the slight texture they bring so
    the white doesnt look so “flat”.

  • Deb says:

    My cabinet maker provided cabinets and crown molding for the top painted in SW Creamy. Same guy, same paint. I thought something was wrong when they were installed because the crown looked much whiter than the cabinets. Frantic, I stopped the installer convinced something was wrong. Side by side they were a perfect match, but the second you put the crown on top of the cabinets they did not. The crown is installed at an angle so not viewed on the same plane as the cabinets. I could try to put a different creamer paint on the crown but I’m afraid I just might make matters worse. For the time being, I’ve chosen to just live with it.

  • June says:

    When spraying my kitchen cabinets several years ago, my painter insisted on lacquer. I had wanted latex (for easy touch-ups), but he said it would not give a smooth finish. I went with his recommendation, but discovered lacquer yellows with time. Now my cabinets look cream. I’ve been told that all oil-based paints yellow in time. But perhaps this is old information….?

  • Vered Rosen says:

    Maria, that’s very true! I learned this the “hard way” early in my career as a designer. I was turning an open shelf unit into a partially closed one. I ordered white painted doors and had the painter paint the unit the SAME white. When the doors arrived I realized the color was slightly off and because it wasn’t a full overlay, I noticed that. I liked what you said about not getting cranky over that (especially us designers!), because once there’s other stuff to look at in the room , “slightly ” more interesting then the tiny difference between the trim and cabinets, it’s rarely noticed… but always good to know it might happen !

  • Kay says:

    I specified Chantilly Lace for our custom cabinets, which were probably lacquered because I didn’t know enough to ask. Walls were painted the same .Chantilly Lace, and they do look whiter. However, I used the sample cabinet door to select the right white subway tile, and then had the trim color custom mixed to match the subway tile. So in effect I have three slightly different but coordinating whites, plus the whites of refrigerator/dishwasher and kitchen sink, so maybe five all together? The undertones are fine, so it all works–at least to my eye. But yellowing will not be good . . .

  • Deb Landy says:

    Good post Maria. I’ll be helping a client in Boston with new cabinets soon and I know she is looking at white.
    I hope you can get to The Merchandise Mart while in Chicago!

  • Carolyn Atkinson says:

    Yes Maria I have had this happen to me. When I realized it was all about the re-finisher/spray painter/kitchen cabinet person using other manufacturers paint/or his eye match/somewhat similar/but not good enough I asked the company I worked for if the their automotive paint department or industrial coatings department could do an exact match to the domestic range of paints in 2 pot spray paint. The answer was Yes. Bliss. I then went to all the kitchen designers, interior design consultants, architects and and kitchen cabinet manufacturers and asked them if they though it was important that a colour they had specified actually did match or was it not that important? You probably can guess what the answer was. It does mean that only registered professional spray painters who always and only use the company I work fors’ products can now supply to this market demand. And most importantly the very discerning professionals [ like yourself ] can have exactly the right colour. There will always be a subtle different in how a colour is seen depending upon what sheen level was applied to the cabinets and the angle it is viewed from but no longer the often totally wrong colour is seen which creates a discord between it and the domestic paint that is on the trims in the room. So there is far less disappointment and heartbreak occurring when something is wrong when it should be right.

  • Love this post BUT… the exact opposite thing happened to me. We used simply white for the lacquer and it came out sooo much lighter, that it looks like a blue undertone primer. Very frustrating. Definitely need to repaint now. Arggh!

  • Gilda says:

    A related example: plastic denture teeth and ceramic caps (crowns) rarely match even if the same shade is specified..different materials.

  • jeannine says:

    Yes, I’ve had this happen to me many times but not in yet in an interior. I do a lot of prop building, sign making, set decoration and building of parade floats. I always end up using a variety of materials and have just accepted that there isn’t any way to make two different types of materials match exactly. I just take into consideration where my work will be seen and in what context and do the best I can. This week I had to try to make the reds of a piece of plastic, an existing car paint and a painted wooden sign appear to match – with different sheens, out in the light of day it can get frustrating. I’ve never had anyone else notice except my brother, he paints custom cars and is an expert paint mixer so not really an average observer.

  • Cindi says:

    What I love about white walls is how they change colors in the light. Right now I’m sitting in my room with Acadia White walls and Simply White ceiling. Looking one direction (perpendicular to the sun) the Acadia white wall is clearly creamy compared to the ceiling. Looking another direction (parallel to the sun) the Acadia White wall looks just like Simply White. I even love the way the white changes in the shadow lines from the trim.

  • Terri says:

    Crazy timing Maria but I just noticed this yesterday!!!! We are designing our new kitchen and I have brought home several large white cabinet samples from my renovator’s show room. I noticed their Cloud White cabinet sample did not remotely match my Cloud White trim in the kitchen and dining room. So then I looked at their Decorator’s White cabinet sample and it again does not look like the decorators white trim I have elsewhere in the house. I thought I was either crazy, or that the cabinet company is not doing a very good job of matching the Benjamin Moore whites!!! So instead of choosing a cabinet white from my paint deck (I was going to paint samples of a few faves), I just decided to look at and select from the cabinet company’s samples and choose my white cabinet that way (ignoring the actual name and my experience with that particular white paint!). Good to have you confirm this as I was just wondering what color trim to do (we are replacing and repainting the baseboard and window/door trim when we put in the new kitchen!!!). Thanks Maria. I have learned so much from you and I have known what to look for as I choose my kitchen whites thanks to your many posts. P. S. When we are done with the kitchen designer and sign the final contract, we get to have a few hours free with their “interior designer” and at least I will have a preliminary white selection done and will be able to confirm all my choices with her and see if she has different opinions on the undertones!! XO Terri in Calgary.

  • Tanya says:

    That is so interesting about the cabinet painters’ paint, etc. Isn’t this similar to what happens when you color match a company’s paint color with another company’s paint? I’ve told my friends that I don’t care what their painter or says, don’t color match (say) a Ben Moore paint color with Sherwin Williams, Behr, etc. because you won’t necessarily get a true match. I think this is especially bad when the color is neutral since so much about what we love about any neutral is the undertone. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it happened to me when I tried to color match BM Smoke Embers with another brand. I ended up chucking the gallon and getting the BM paint after painting enough on a wall to determine it wasn’t right in spite of matching the color card. I would be curious to hear your opinion. Maybe it’s true but doesn’t affect things as I think it does?

    • Tanya says:

      By the way, oh my do I love that first picture. The white kitchen with the black and white wallpaper in the next room…swoon!! 🙂

  • Heddy says:

    A great post Maria. Lots to take in to get my head around this!

  • Phyllis E says:

    Hi Maria! Have you also found this phenomena to occur when you try to color match one paint brand’s color in another manufacturer’s paint line? Even though the differences might not be as great as those between lacquer and paint, the slightly different materials and ingredients used in each brand reflect light slightly differently, even though it initially appeared to match the paint chip exactly? Just wondering if you have found this to be an issue! Thanks.

    • Maria Killam says:

      I don’t colour match. If I use a different paint line, I just find a colour close to what I’m looking for in THEIR COLOURS and go with that. However, if you’re talking about FLASHING which is what happens when you touch up any paint with a sheen, that has nothing to do with the paint colour, it’s that you’re adding another sheen layer on top of eggshell paint for example. That’s why flat paint is the only paint you can touch up. Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Liz says:

    Tx Maria. When we built, I had our contractor use the same off-white colour used on the cabinets for the trim, but at 25% saturation – which of course is really white

    But, while it is a different white, it feels like it works well because it was ‘derived’ from the same colour as the cabinets.

    Don’t know if that’s a ‘technically correct’ thing to say – would be interested to hear your thoughts on that (50% saturation would prob start to look closer to cab colour, but just lighter which is ‘bad’, yes?)

    Have fun in Chicago! 🙂

  • sandyc says:

    Maria, what a great and timely post. I’d mentioned earlier that I was planning to paint an old cabinet door the same color as my trim, Dunn-Edwards Swiss Coffee (since I have white appliances and didn’t want to bring in a third white). About to do that soon. I’m hoping to use a painter who prefers to use Dunn-Edwards paint and who will be getting the same paint as used for the trim from the same paint store, so maybe I won’t have quite the problem that others have experienced. But so much else in your post and in the comments from others are so important to keep in mind, especially any natural light and what direction it comes from. With a two-window corner sink with one window facing due south and the other window and patio door facing west but opening onto a screened in porch and with a solar tube in the middle of the kitchen that makes the room blindingly bright in the center when the sun is overhead and quite shaded in the windowless areas, I suspect that I’m going to have a visual “shades of white” treat every day. I already do with the Dunn-Edwards Jakarta wall color in the LR/D’office and the kitchen. It’s categorically a yellow beige but I’m hard put to see the beige, actually like the soft pale yellow and, in the early morning in the east facing foyer, it can appear a wee bit peachy. It does help to understand why this happens and how to work with it, particularly if you can’t change it, or how to ignore it — and that’s where you, Maria, and other designers help us so much. This is one of those very good Save for Future Reference posts.

  • Monica Hart says:

    When I read this post this morning, I was convinced you had written it just for me. It is unbelievable that no one has ever brought this to your attention! I must admit, I have been agonizing over this very thing. I am one of your clients; you did an exterior color consult (more on that later–you were right, I was wrong) and a counter top consult for me a few months back.

    I will be honest–the reason I didn’t bring up this question is because, frankly, I was afraid you would tell me I made a white mistake. I already made several costly mistakes with paint that I have since fixed. Anyway, I too have Sherwin Williams Extra White on my kitchen cabinets, on all my trim, and on some of my walls. I considered going with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, but decided against it because you would need sunglasses to survive in my house. It gets A LOT of natural light. As it is, Extra White reads as really, really white–in most cases. The case in which it doesn’t read really, really white is in the kitchen (in some lighting situations). The lighting in my kitchen changes minute by minute. The kitchen is south-facing, but is open to the rest of the living/dining room, so all of the trim has to “match”. In addition to a kitchen window and skylights, I have two sets of french doors and two single doors, all in the same room.

    Without writing a novel and in a nutshell, we went wrong with paint in our new construction house immediately. First lesson: never ever do a color match using a paint chip from a card. The paint almost never comes out the same as if you sent a sample of the actual paint. Our kitchen cabinets were matched to a paint chip, but after they were installed, it was AWFUL. They read dingy, pinky, creamy white. The trim and beams that butted right up to them looked insanely white compared to the cabinets. So, after much agonizing, research, and waiting, we decided to have the cabinets repainted. We found a company that could respray the cabinets with lacquer paint right onsite, including the doors, and even the kitchen island. The gentleman who did the work created a tent in my kitchen and sealed off the rest of the house. The result was even better than brand new factory finished cabinets, as all of the little seams were closed and caulked. They look wonderful. Here’s the but…

    I was convinced that our new color match using the real SW Extra White paint from the trim (right out of the can) was STILL wrong. It isn’t wrong. It’s the lighting. And there is nothing I can do about it. I stopped letting it bother me, because like you said Maria, probably no one else will notice it after the kitchen is styled. And they don’t. The laundry room situation is exactly the same, except this time, in certain lights the paint on the cabinets looks even creamier because I chose a very pretty sunny yellow that reflects on the cabinets (BM Lemon Sorbet). I don’t let this bother me because I love the yellow enough to put up with the glow on the cabinets. After I read your post this morning I felt much, much better. I also learned that every surface is different and will never truly match. My white quartz is clearly whiter than my cabinets, but in my fickle kitchen lighting, the bottom cabinets look less white than the uppers and less white than the quartz. It somehow seems wrong to try to go whiter on cabinets than trim, so I’m glad I didn’t. All of my whites flow together and seem to take a backseat to my colorful accessories.

    Another lesson I learned from the paint store regarding color matching is that Sherwin Williams’s base paint is not the same as the base paint from Benjamin Moore, and even with identical tinting, the paints will not be 100% the same. After calling several SW stores, most of them said their closest match to BM Simply White is actually SW Extra White (with nothing else added). We tested and tested, and really couldn’t notice any difference between the two whites. I have never heard anyone else mention this before.

    This was a great post; you put my mind at ease. Thank you.

  • Mid America Mom says:

    HI! Experiencing different variations of the same color has happened twice to me. Back in Denver before we sold that house I had to paint the living/dining room. It had 9 foot ceilings and tons of light and I decided to have no window coverings when staged. I painted the ceiling and walls from the same gallons (it was a beige from SW that eludes my memory). The realtor strongly cautioned against this act (he was a former contractor mostly in high end kitchen and baths) . Ceilings, being above the light from windows etc, are naturally darker. It was the same exact paint and yes the ceiling read darker. In the brightness of the room it worked out and he was pleasantly surprised. In this kitchen remodel we went with an eggshell for the walls, that matched the cabinets, and it looks different 90% of the time. I mentioned this problem with sheen changing a color to an acquaintance. He had worked with a contractor for years and said – you should have gone to yy paint store in xx. Evidently they have some “old timers” that insist you bring a finished door and they never settle with the factory colorant formulas as they change it to “match” the door. According to him it takes time but it really works. I am intrigued but not willing to pull the trigger and try to do this … the time and expense involved. Thanks for a great post and welcome to Chicagoland! I am not going to the class but would be open to meeting up in your suburban location some evening or whatever! Thanks!

  • Jula says:

    Great post! I’ve had this exact situation happen many times with kitchen facelifts. My clients question the need for samples of the sprayed doors. ” why do we need them when it’s the same color?” Recently I used super white for the cabinets and simply white for the trim. The lacquer added a creaminess to the cabinets. My advice, always get a sample cabinet door done and then select your trim color.

  • Lucy HAINES says:

    Maria, As usual I love this post. One can never stop learning! All of the comments are also worth so much. I just acquired a new client that needs new paint in the kitchen, family room and dining room. I tried to explain different sheen’s to them which seemed to go over their heads. I have decided not get too technical with a client because they get confused. We definitely see things differently than the average person. Also because most paint companies have different levels of sheen, it is hard to explain to anyone. This post has helped me a lot as far as problems with different whites and also the wood source. I know that when a cabinet is sprayed with lacquer it has a slight yellowing effect and does yellow more the older it gets.

    Love all of the pictures that you have posted. Also want to compliment you on the pallet that you chose for Crystal and Rob’s home. The colors just flow into the scenery!

  • Colleen Coleman says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this subject. I am working with a client now, specifying all white, custom-handcrafted, cabinetry in a new construction project with heavily detailed white trim. I will most definitely work more closely with my cabinet maker to ensure the whites are coordinated to ensure a fabulous outcome for my client! As always, I love your insight into color Maria!!

  • AK says:

    I sent an email a while back asking what how you chose paint colors if they were going to be painting the cabinets with oil based paint because of the yellowing.

  • Rachel says:

    This happened to me in our build last year. My painter said to me, “Aren’t your trim and cabinets supposed to be the same white?” “Yes, they are,” I replied. When I went to take a look, I noticed that the trim was bright white and the cabinets looked really creamy. It was all supposed to be Simply White. I felt that one of them must have been wrong. I held up my Simply White poster board to the cabinet and it was close, but the cabinet was definitely creamier. I learned that that was due to the laquer. My trim, however, was way whiter than my poster board. I felt that it made my cabinets look way too creamy. We took some of the trim paint and painted it right onto the Simply White poster board and it was way whiter. The paint company had not matched it correctly! So we took my cabinet door to the paint company so they could match my trim paint to it. Then my painters had to respray my entire house trim!!! The paint company had to pay for the mistake. My trim now looks like my cabinets, but I would say it is all creamier than the original Simply White poster board I had based everything off of. So frustrating. Everything looks nice in the end, but I feel that I would go with a whiter white for cabinets in the future knowing that the laquer makes them more creamy. And I would always match my trim off a piece of the cabinet in the future too.

  • Kate says:

    My bedroom
    Cabinets were sprayed and certainly were a warmer white then i specified. Wish painters would warn us about enamel not exactly matching – very noticeable!

  • Barb says:

    Great timing. I am currently selecting items for a kitchen reno. The shaker cabinets are Chantilly Lace (chosen by the supplier), my trim is currently Cloud White hoping to retain this colour as it’s my choice of trim throughout the house. I’m considering white subway tile and Calacutta Nuvo for my granite. After reading this article I’m beginning to panic wondering if all the whites will work together. Anyone care to weigh in with suggestions.

  • Debbie says:

    We own a professional paint company and I have access to many paint chips. I had chosen Sherwin’s Snowbound (yellowy white) from a Sherwin brochure consisting of all white paint chips for my trim paint. The actual paint once mixed was a blue-ish white and nothing like the brochure which was a yellowy white. The store clerk tried to tell me it was because the brochure of all white paint chips had aged and became yellowy where as the individual paint chips of “Snowbound” were a blue-ish white. I then talked to my actual go-to-guy at Sherwin who told me it was a Sherwin error and not an aged brochure thing. I ended up having the yellowy white “Snowbound” custom shot and proceeded to paint my trim. I love it. So, the moral of the story is…..don’t always trust what the store tells you and a color chip from their brochure may be a different color than the individual chip in the store. Hope this helps.

  • Stacy says:

    YES, this was an issue for me twice and I’ve been meaning to ask you to address sheens and paint vs. lacquer. I painted my stairs Simply White and then had a built-in cabinet and new kitchen cabinets lacquered by different companies. They have codes to match all paint but when they sent the sample
    I had them lighten the lacquer on the built-in until it matched. With the kitchen, they brightened it up too much so we actually had then re-spray. For me, the lacquer was too yellow or warm and didn’t match my painted trim and stair banisters with a catwalk so it seemed obvious to me. Darryl Carter mentions this too and shows a kitchen with lacquered white cabinets, with the same wall and trim color. Since they are all different sheens, they appear slightly different yet coordinate. A solution to using different paint is to use different sheens 🙂 Thanks and I’ve decided next time to forgo the lacquer and instead use Farrow and Ball paint for cabinets; this seems to be what they do in many English kitchens.

  • Jacqueline says:

    What’s a true white what I can put with Benjamin Moore Blue Lace? I painted my walls Blue Lace in my living room and kitchen and I think I need more of true white to stand out and make the room pop more. I want to paint my cabinets white and also my trim needs repainting and I can’t seem to find a white. I’ve bought a few samples but they all seem to be off white but in the store it looks white.

  • Cynthy Lee says:

    Pretty cool. And I wonder if you are interested in a relative machine, Color Matching Cabinet. Welcome to click:

  • Faye Hough says:

    Traci Zeller and Maria,
    I’m having custom kitchen cabinets made (my backsplash will be the same as the one in Traci’s photo) and I’m considering Extra White by Sherwin Williams and Pure White by Sherwin Williams. I’m being told by some that Extra White will be too stark. It’s what I would like if I dared, but I’m afraid of the starkness. What do you think?

  • Nancy says:

    I know this is a old post
    I’m thinking of doing my cabinets in sw snowbound I just got you white is complicated again for the third time . Some how I still struggle
    Doing pure white ceasarstone I thought it looked good with snowboard but then I read where
    Somesay it has a reddish undertone and can go pink .
    Some say it’s warm some say it’s cool .
    Since you have used can you share your thoughts on SW snowbound?
    I didn’t see pink when I took it to job sight but with no floors no nothing but bare Sheetrock and no sunshine ???
    Thank you

  • Elizabeth L says:

    Regarding the pic that has SW Extra White cabinets and SW Snowbound for the trim — would it have been better to use SW Extra white everywhere or is it okay to have the trim and cabinets a different gradation of white? Extra white is blue white and snowbound is off white right? Which is the correct white for the space?

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