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Vancouver Interior Designer: The Truth about Cloud White

By 10/15/2011January 28th, 201779 Comments


I think it’s kind of funny that one of my most read posts is one of the first five that I wrote when I started this blog almost three years ago,  “The Best Trim Colours — NOT Cloud White.” Since then, I always have to heavily explain why I’m specifying it when I do. My clients are like, “WHAT, you’re giving me Cloud White? I read that post Maria!”


So here’s the thing, Cloud White is an off-white so this means it’s not stark white and it’s not ivory or cream. So if your house does not:

a. Have a fixed white which dictates the trim colour,


b. Is filled with rich earth tones (which means you’d need something creamier),


c. have dark colours which can look too stark with white,


d. have Carrara Marble throughout (in which case off-white would be too creamy),

Style at Home Houzz

then your trim should probably be CC-40 Cloud White or OC-117 Simply White or any other off-white in that category. As a designer it’s still a colour you will specify 75 – 80% of the time. However, if Cloud White is your go-to-everytime colour, that’s when you’ll look like an amateur.

The woodwork in your home should coordinate with the fixed white in your space. So if the tile in your kitchen — floor or backsplash — is creamy (for example) and not white, then your cabinets/woodwork should be cream.

Just this week I consulted with a client who had painted all the trim and cabinets in her house OC-85 Mayonnaise. And she wanted to bring a sofa she had recently purchased (which was in her master bedroom) into the living room. The problem was that it was teal and white.

So, if your trim was off-white and not so creamy, it’s easier to switch over from the earth tones from the past 20 years to the new white/gray/black trend.

Sarah Richardson source

It also presents a strong argument for designing your house around a whiter trim colour because painted trim can last 20-30 years while trends change every 10 and it’s expensive to re-paint. Much like taking out tile really. Walls you can re-paint, but re-painting every single door and molding in your house? Not something you want to be doing often.

What colour is your woodwork?

Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

The Best Trim for Bathrooms; NOT Cloud White

The Best Exterior Trim Colours with Brick NOT Cloud White

The Best Trim Colours–NOT Cloud White

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  • Eliesa says:

    We recently bought a house that was painted the same dingy cream color from baseboards to ceilings. We are in the process of repainting everything, including 16 doors, Snowbound by Sherwin Williams. It is gorgeous! I love your website, by the way. Thinking of calling for a consult for our master suite and kitchen, just getting this project done first.
    (sorry, wrong website address!)

  • Mascarpone (because you told me to!) Every once in a while I worry that it may be too creamy, but it’s really not and somehow it’s rich without being too creamy, if that makes sense. But I’m redoing my office at work right now and I’m using Cloud White for the trim.

  • Jill says:

    I really found this informative. I often struggle with recommending trim colors for clients because of undertones. The undertones in white can be very subtle and only reveal themselves when seen next to other shades of white.

    I took an easy way out when I painted my trim 9 years ago. I chose a deep oregano green. It related to the view out my windows and enhanced the wall color. I recently repainted all of my trim white. It was expensive and a lot of work and you’re right…I won’t want to do it again any time soon.

    Thank you for consistently posting blogs that are well written and informative.

  • Gretchen says:

    Marcaspone by Ben Moore I LOVE it!!!!

  • Laura Jens Sisino says:

    It’s amazing what a difference freshly painted trim can make. Especially if that old trim is stained (gulp) pine. 🙂

    Used White Dove on bathroom cabinets and loved how it turned out. Though, it might be one of those colors common to use I wound up using it on all the trim, I love the warmth & softness of it’s appearance.

  • Anne says:

    I have to agree – for completely modernizing my purchased home built in 90’s with 80’s choices, all my trim is going SW Extra White. This matches well with the new wall color choices which are either very white coastal pastels or slightly grayed (for the bedrooms). What is finished is so clean-looking compared to the dated colors!

  • Maria – I got worried when I read the title – did I have to change up from my standard of Cloud White? Oh No – but I love it – just enough white to go with most things, but not too stark to scream at me.
    I feel better now that I read the post.

  • Mary says:

    We recently had wood floors installed and trim molding. I took a small piece of the old molding to have it color matched & the guy at the hardware store said he couldn’t match it because all I needed was a quart. So I ended up buying a quart of their store brand trim paint. It’s a brighter white than what I had before. So now I’m repainting all my trim so it will all match. The sound you now hear is me banging my head against the wall. I should have just bought the gallon size container and my old trim & the new trim would have matched.

  • Cindy says:

    We just bought this home and the trim is all BM Revere Pewter… I still have no idea what to do with the walls! I love your blog!

  • Marlo says:

    I used BM Oxford White to match the white shutters.

    I agree to always go with a whiter trim colour.
    I just painted most of my home and the Oxford White works great with the new colours. Had I ignored the white shutters and used a creamier white, when I originally painted the trim, then not only would they look odd with the shutters but I would have had to repaint the all the trim and doors this time around.

  • Kj says:

    Officially confused.

  • Celeste says:

    “So if your house does not b)is filled with rich earth tones…”
    I do not understand what you are trying to convey here. Do you mean to say “If your house IS filled with rich earth tones…then use Cloud White?”

    I get the first a)statement but not b). My house is all 1900’s original oak, which I think is a rich earth tone, so I am trying to understand this. Please help, because I learn much from your posts.

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Celeste,
    If your house is filled with rich earth tones than cloud white is too stark (refer to the link I posted on Cloud white) and If your trim is all wood already then you don’t have the painted woodwork problem from what it sounds like.

  • Lisa says:

    Love your blog Maria!

    Okay, so what if you do have Carrera Marble (fixed white) in your home? Then what white for the cabinets and trim?


  • I don’t like really white trim, although I get what you’re saying about how each situation is different. I don’t like a lot of contrast, so I recently repainted my bedroom and painted everything the same color, Papaya by BM. I love it! It makes the room so much bigger since the contrast doesn’t chop it up.

  • Thanks for posting this Maria. There are so many whites out there and I get frustrated when I hear that everyone is using cloud white. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great color. However, I agree with you that it isn’t right for every application.

  • We painted ALL of the trim in my father’s house last summer and it’s not a project for the faint of heart. This is good advice!

    We’ll be painting and installing trim over the next few months and I have to say that I’m not looking forward to it. :o)

  • Bev says:

    would like to know what the colours are in the staircase picture from Sarah’s House above

  • Laura says:

    Would you suggest using the same color trim as your kitchen cabinets?

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Laura,
    Yes that’s what I mean by woodwork but it’s not so obvious to everyone.

  • shari says:

    Hi Maria,
    love your posts….thank you for all the inspiration! Our kitchen cabinets are being built now. White shaker inset. Island is Classic white quartzite. It is the absolute closest thing to carrara marble. It is gorgeous. Cabinet run (perimeters) is Virginia mist- polished. I decided to do Simply White by BM. I did not want to do White Dove (BM) b/c it looked muddy and too creamy. Picking the right white has got my husband and I so confused. I don’t want the cabinets to look muddy or creamy but I do not want hospital white. What are your thoughts on SImply White? thinking of doing a carrara subway backsplash. I’ve read good things about Simply white but still not sure. Any suggestions or opinions would be very helpful and appreciated! I need to make a decision this week!

  • Kelly says:

    I’m in a similar situation to Shari, but slightly different. Moved into a home with creamy white interior (various tints of BM albescent) but planning to do west facing kitchen with soapstone counters, carrera marble backsplash and some color of white cabinet but like most, am vacillating between trying to stay consistent with the rest of the house (do a 25% tint of the Albescent), Chantilly Lace, Cloud White, Simply White and our recent favorite White Dove. Maria, please help, I know you are the white expert!

    • Maria Killam says:

      You are moving forward with the new trends with the choices you are making so choose a white that relates to what you are doing now and ignore it everywhere else. Maria

  • Sandra says:

    Would you suggest Decorators White or Chantilly Lace with carrara marble? My trim is Crescendo (an old MAB color with what looks to me like a yellow undertone). I want all white walls but am concerned the Crescendo is too yellow on the wall (although on the trim it looks more white for some reason), yet if the walls are whiter I’m afraid trim will look dirty. I have a lot of white, gray and some Belgian linen fabric. Any advice?

    • Maria Killam says:

      They would both work with Carrara marble. Maria

      • Sandra says:

        Thanks so much. I ended up using the trim color and I love it–all white! I was nervous because the painter had made a mistake mixing the cabinet color so they have a slightly yellow undertone, but it’s not as obvious now that the walls are all the right color! I love your blog (and book) and have learned a lot about color thanks to you.

  • Katy Thomas says:

    Hi Maria, I purchased your book last night. Fantastic! We are in the process of remodeling a kitchen in a house with 1890 white oak trim and floors. The oak is a in golden stain. The island will also be this color and the countertops and backsplash will be a Montclair Danby marble…slightly dirty compared to A Calcutta Oro and more creamy than a Carrera. We were trying to stay away from the gray undertones though it’s the next big thing due to the amount of unpainted oak throughout the house. The room gets northern and eastern light. I have ruled out Cloud White, Cotton Ball, and Simply White, but can’t decide between Linen White and White Dove…Due to the gray in White Dove, I am leaning towards the Linen White but haven’t seen you mention it in the book or online. Thoughts? Any insight would be greatly appreciated…

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Katy,
      I would need to see those samples in person but truly you would never see the gray in white dove in the end. Whites are confusing when you compare them but if that colour looks good with your marble then it seems like it would work from over here. Maira

  • Lydia says:

    I painted my living room Sundew by SW and painted the kitchen (right off the living room) a color up from that. Both colors have a yellowish tint to them. Please, please, please suggest a color for the trim that will work with both areas. I have spend so much money on samples and none work. My kitchen is very bright with a skylight.

    Thank you and hugs are coming thru the email.


    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Lydia,
      Without seeing your space and knowing what your fixed white is, it’s hard for me to recommend one. I’m sure cloud white would be fine here anyway. Maria

  • Inga says:

    Hi, Maria. Hoping you can give me some advice. I’m getting ready to paint my kitchen and am having a hard time picking a white. My countertop is “Quartz Reflection” Caesarstone (white with both tan and gray toned flecks in it); original white cast-iron sink; old white subway tile backsplash (slightly creamier than the pure white sink, but with a slight gray cast from the dings and crazing due to age); white O’Keefe and Merritt stove; stainless steel appliances and newly installed Armstrong Blue Spa linoleum floor, which matches the old blue trim line on the backsplash behind the sink. I also have a number of red accents including a very white vintage porcelain-topped table with red lines cross-hatched on the top. The room doesn’t get much direct light so isn’t very bright. Two walls are basically cabinets and the third wall is mostly covered by stove, hood and cabinet. The fourth wall is completely open. was going to go simple and vintage with white but am having a hard time tying everything together and with the red and ocean blue colors wouldnt know how to bring color in. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

  • Carla says:

    Hi Maria, my designer has advised me to paint my trim and crown molding, including all doors in BM Chantilly lace semi gloss finish. She recommended painting the walls the same color as well but in an eggshell, what are your thoughts? Thank you so much. Have a nice day.

  • Michelle says:

    Planning on painting my outdated kitchen cabinets white. Should kitchen cabinets be painted the same color as the trim color that is throughout the house?
    Your blog is amazingly helpful!!

  • Angie says:

    Hi Maria,

    I live in an old rowhome with limited sunlight. I love the look of an all white living/dining room with natural wood tones (we tung oiled our old red oak & pine floors) and accents of sage. I’m wondering if I should paint the walls, ceiling & trim all the same color white (thinking Dove White, Simply White, or Decorators White) in matte for the walls & semi-gloss for the trim, or add more depth to the room by using different shades of white?

    Any advice is appreciated!

  • Laura says:

    Hi Maria,

    I am going to be redoing my entire kitchen and den and repainting the entire house. Should I match my trim paint with the color white I will be painting the kitchen cabinets? If I don’t need to should the trim be whiter than the cabinets? Since I am starting from scratch do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

  • Bne says:

    Hi Marla,

    We have a 100 year old house with nicely refinished fir flooring (oiled look). The trim throughout the house is BM OCC133 Ancient Ivory. I would love to NOT repaint it, and we are looking for a white to paint the walls. Would you recommend the reverse scheme here of painting the WALLS Cloud White to go with this trim? Any other colour suggestions? We really want to avoid beige/cream, and to a degree grey without the halls looking too stark.


  • Beth says:

    We are in the midst of a renovation involving replacing all of our trim from a stained pine to white more modern profile casings, boston header,crown molding and base. I am holding up the project trying to choose the perfect white for the trim. I realize that whatever I choose is going to be it for many years as the project is so labour intensive. I am looking for a white that is not stark, too gray or too yellow. One that will still offer a cozy feel in our home yet will be modern. Help!

    • Maria Killam says:

      Your white should be chosen based on the fixed white in your home whether that be your white cabinets, white tile, something. If you don’t have one and don’t ever plan to have white countertops, tile or anything else than Cloud White is just fine. Maria

      • Beth says:

        Thank you for your reply. My apliances are stainless and really no fixed white in our home to base from. Hardwood throughout the house is White Oak. Possible choices for wall colors are Rocky Road (kitchen), Cabot Trail (dining room), Inukshuk (halls), Raindance or Piedment Gray( 1/2 bath and laundry) Greenbrier Beige( family room). This is just the main level with Ranchwood, Olive Green and Revere Pewter currently painted upstairs that will not be changed. I am down to choosing between Simply White and Cloud White for trim (I have a can of each right now painting pieces of casing to move throughout the house). Within the next 24-48 hours, a decision must be made as our painter arrives tomorrow. As mentioned previously, we have installed crown molding throughout. Should our ceilings be standard ceiling white or because of the crown molding against them should the ceiling paint be tinted the same as the trim paint. If so, will the contrast of finshes, flat on ceilng and pearl on trim give it enough of a contrast. My concern is that the crown will look dirty against a pure white ceiling. On a humorous note, making friends with pure strangers at the paint store because we all seem to feel each others pain! How can painting require therapy. I make decisions in my job every day with ease but cannot decide on a paint color???? Really appreciate your input. I noticed that you had used Simply White in one of your homes which led me to look at it as a second option.

  • John says:

    I had decided to paint the exterior of my saltbox circa 1680 cloud white. The front of the house is clapboards but the sides of the main house and other additions are shingled. The front of the house has full exposure to the sun throughout the day. I was excited to use cloud white but now am thoroughly confused because there are so few posts about the use of exterior white on clapboards and not just trim. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Maria Killam says:

      If Cloud White works for your exterior than you should use it. This is not a post that says Cloud White should be outlawed forever. Maria

  • Anita Powell says:

    I am so confused about white. I have read and reread your informative posts. Thank you for them. I haven’t chosen a color for my kitchen cabinets and trim yet. We have a bathroom cabinet freshly painted with Sherwin Williams True White. The paint looks very white next to the newly painted walls. Whiter than the new creamy white vanity top. I have 8.5 x 11 cardstock swatches painted and taped to my kitchen cabinets and the paint looks like it has yellow undertones and seems too dark. I just can’t decide. Planning to shop tomorrow for white samples for the kitchen. I want to get this right!

  • Diane says:

    Maria, how do you choose a white for trim throughout the house when the fixed whites vary? The current impetus is the installation of a new Kohler suite in the downstairs bath, which will still have the 1938 caramel and cinnamon tile. The kitchen appliances are vastly different, including the original creamy white Wedgewood stove and contemporary white refrigerator. The existing oil-based trim paint has yellowed significantly and now looks dirty (except one bedroom that is BM Light Khaki with Mountain Peak trim). Most furnishings are warmer, almost gold tones. Don’t ask me how that happened; I’ve never liked gold. One advantage in older homes is that walls separate rooms, so subtle changes in trim color aren’t as obvious. The walls… well, as you say, walls are easy to change.

    • Maria Killam says:

      If it’s not possible to have it all be the same then you need to coordinate with what is in the space which sounds like that is what your house requires. Maria

  • Anna says:

    What’s the best white for trim to use with white wood blinds from Home Depot? I would say the blinds are more a soft white, maybe even ivory, not stark white. We have white wood blinds everywhere in the house and would like to paint out the maple trim around the windows. Can you recommend a soft white for window trim colour?

  • Mandi says:

    We are doing our house in BM Revere Pewter and BM Gray Owl, I was looking at doing the trim SW Snowbound. Our kitchen cabinets are bright white however so now I’m not so sure… Do you have a better trim color idea or does Snowbound sound okay.

  • Christina Duncan says:

    I chose SW Snowbound by chance, not having read this blog. It is a gorgeous white and found that you can see colors in it, and paired it with SW Worldly Gray. Many compliments! The problem is, I love this new, more modern look but now don’t know what to do with the rest of the house, with walls a decidedly warmer ivory. One thing is for certain: I will never be without Snowbound — it makes me feel happy!

  • Laura Bazzano says:

    Hi Maria

    I’ve decided to paint all my trim and kitchen cabinets Chantilly lace so now I’m wondering what is best kind of paint eggshell satin or flat?


  • Jen says:

    I am at the starting phase of buying a new-build house. We had our first visit with the kitchen cabinet makers — interestingly, one of the “white” options is BM Cloud White. The designer said that since so many people asked for it, they made it part of their standard line. My question is that if I go with Cloud White cabinets, would that be OK with a light grey quartz like Cabria “Darlington”? I want a grey-white look in general, with warmth to it. likely will do a medium grey tile floor.
    Furthermore, if they put in standard “builder white” trim, would the cloud white cabinets look OK to too yellow? Thanks, Jen

  • Nikky says:

    Hi Maria,

    Came across your amazing blog in a panic. My builder says I must have my final decisions into the painter in 48 hours. Yikes! Any advice you could lend would be greatly appreciated. My kitchen will have white quartz countertops with mirror flecks, chrome kitchen faucet, soft gray backsplash that has an arabesque design in a very very light taupey white color, and warm medium brown-gray hardwoods. I am torn between BM White Dove and BM Simply White. I want a soft but still bright kitchen so I was leaning towards White Dove but have read that it can read dirty and too gray in some spaces. Then I leaned back to Simply White but thought it may be too bright in this application. Please Help! Your advice would be appreciated more than you know.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Is the rest of your house white? No? Then it will never look right to paint your walls white? Match the colour to the backsplash. Hope this helps, Maria

      • Nikky says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I apologize for not explaining that I am torn between the White Dove and the Simply White for the kitchen cabinets and interior trim.As far as paint color on the walls and ceilings I currently have selected BM Balboa Mist but that can change to if you think it is necessary. Again, I appreciate any help you can lend. I cannot believe what a hard decision I have to make so soon. Thank you so much in advance.

  • carin says:

    I’m currently redoing our main floor. We have an older house with stained red oak trim throughout, and coffered ceilings in our dining room. We are taking down most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room. We are going to put in new flooring (red oak or else white quarter sawn oak, not sure which is best) in a light-medium tone (probably a neutral brown with maybe a bit of yellow to it). I wanted to have some warm greys in the living room/dining room walls. I also wanted to have white cabinets in the kitchen. Can you please suggest white cabinet colours for me? It is a south facing kitchen. I’m not sure about the counters yet, but am leaning towards quartz, possibly a warm grey fleck but we havn’t chosen yet. We were hoping for something timeless as we may move in 5-10 years.
    Many thanks

  • Beth L says:

    The rooms in these pictures are to die for. Great information, too!!

  • Jodi says:

    Maria–your articles are amazing. Thank you! I’m dealing with a house with aquaglo white trim throughout. I can’t change everything but am redoing the main floor. I’m working with an IKEA kitchen, which is pretty close to BM Cloud White. I can change the trim in the kitchen to cloud white and then either carry that through into the main room (there are no walls with trim that run continuously from one to the other, only one perpendicular wall) and then switch back to a simple white so that the main room has a closer match to the rest of the house. Or, do I carry the cloud white all the way through? And what about the ceiling, which is contiguous from the main room and kitchen? Any advice would be so appreciated!!

  • Cathy McPherson says:

    I love your blog. Can you please advise me. I have just had new kitchen cabinets installed in white cloud. Love them. What color would you suggest for my trim ceiling and french doors. My subway tile is beech and my wall color is wick ham grey and my counters are praa sands quartz.

  • Cathy McPherson says:

    Oops cloud white

  • Juli says:

    There was a big trend for a while in my area for builders to use mid tone colors on trim, with a lighter wall color. Going back in to consult on these rooms, it’s always a challenge to recommend wall colors. To keep any contrast, you’d have to go super-dark on the walls. And as you well know, you’re at the mercy of whatever undertones are in the trim color. For that reason, I never advise a customer to use mid tone trim throughout a house. One “man-cave” or media room, perhaps. But not everywhere.

  • mary paravani says:

    Help. whenever I see cloud white in pictures, etc., i see it whiter than my kitchen cabinets-which are cloud white… why do i see my cloud white cabinets somewhat ‘creamy’ almost ‘ivory’ ? How can i get more white in my kitchen/family room? we have yet to paint the trim, walls, doors, get window coverings and countertops! my sofas are a medium charcol gray

  • Jean says:

    I’m wondering if you can help me with a BM color that we have tried a sample of. Cabot trail 998. It would be for the larger portion of wall in our family room. The room has a lot of natural light with 4 large skylights and windows. We have BM Caliente on the lower portion of the wall. I’m worried about the darkness of the color although we would like to try to go darker. We have been looking at color cards and have purchased 3 samples so far… my husband really like cabot trails… I just picked up bm card with Cotswold AF 150.? it’s a lighter? But?Any help is really appreciated. Thanks so much.

  • RENEE says:

    Hi Maria,
    Thank you for your helpful posts. I bought a house with cloud white kitchen cabinets and trim and grey walls and white subway tiles. We would like to go to all white walls (primarily south facing light). Can I choose a slightly whiter white for the walls or must I stay with cloud white because the trim will look yellow? I think repainting trim would be okay but not cabinets and doors- would be insanely expensive. Thanks for your help. sorry you keep getting these crazy white questions. I feel sort of bad asking.

  • Eileen says:

    Hi, Just painted bedroom BMwhite bone paint. The room has cherry French Provençal furniture . Not sure if this was a good choice. Does white cloud paint for ceiling and trim be a good choice to paint.

  • Beth Poad says:

    Love your blog but totally confused about “cloud white”.
    Our whole house is done in Revere Pewter but wouldllike to lighten it up. Dark cabinets and flooring make it dark. Thinking I ‘d like to go all white but prefer not to paint trim . Trim is currently Cloud White. Can I still paint house in white or do I need to redo trim too. Like the looks of White Dove, Suggestions??

    • Maria Killam says:

      Well if off-white is the right white that will pull all your whites together, then just keep going with Cloud White. Hope that helps, Maria

  • Aldonna Tambasco says:

    Hi Maria,
    I have an open concept floor plan. My kitchen cabinets are cloud white and I love them. I want to get custom made built-ins around my fireplace. Do I have to use cloud white? In my kitchen I have a bulk head so the cloud white kitchen cabinets don’t touch the stark white ceiling (the house is painted Collingwood). I am afraid that if I put the built-ins up to the ceiling in cloud white, that it will look yellow. I would really appreciate your advice.
    Thank you.

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