White, White, White

Aside from the pocket door, one of the things we really wanted to hash out over the holiday break was deciding on paint colors for the kitchen walls and cabinets – and sticking to them! When it comes to paint, I’m truly a waffler, never really trusting my own gut and changing my mind daily. I spent an embarrassing amount of time cutting out swatches, holding them against our current walls, squinting at them at arm’s length and nixing those that were too blue, too green or too pink.


We’ve mentioned that our intention with the kitchen is too keep things feeling classic and clean, and we really want to brighten things up with the big back door and all white cabinetry. The walls will be painted in a super pale shade of warm gray (I think we’ve got a winner picked out!), and we’ll continue that same color into the living room – finally repainting the walls that have consistently felt too cold. (We always say, it’s just paint! You can do it again!, and while it’s a pain to ‘fess up, it’ll really be worth it.)

But back to those white cabinets! Our cabinet maker has already taken down our existing uppers to begin the refacing process, and everything else will be rebuilt. We thought we could salvage one or two of the lowers, but as he began to take them apart, they were in sad shape; we’ve been watching the budget go up (as is par for the course), but for a long haul kitchen, we want to do it right. After deciding on simple shaker style cabinets, pull out lowers and all those nit picky upgrades, our only job was to choose the white. I mean, we don’t even have to paint them ourselves! This is the easiest cabinet upgrade ever!

Well, that is, until we hunkered down and really started sifting through whites. It’s no secret that choosing white paint is an art form, and we began by looking at swatches that are consistently the most popular for cabinets and trim (Simply White and White Dove, and moving forward, all colors are Ben Moore). It wasn’t long before we spiraled, and found ourselves considering everything from Decorators White to Vanilla Milkshake, Cotton Balls and Chantilly Lace. To name a very select few.

BUT. Our white appliances are ever-so-slightly cool, and they’ll dictate the direction we go so that the room palette stays cohesive. In the end, we picked up four samples to test: White Dove, Distant Gray, Super White and White. (Which, by the way, did you know that such a color existed? It quite literally is named White!)


We brought these colors home, and using Julia’s tip, painted them on foam core. This would give us the mobility to move the whites around the room, hold them up against our appliances and watch them change in the natural light throughout the course of the day, as well as note the changes under artificial ceiling lights.


Above, from left to right, we have Distant Gray, Super White and White. Immediately, White Dove was nixed for being incredibly yellow against the appliances, and White was removed for being a little too flat. (On a side note, I do think that had we gone with stainless appliances, our paint options would’ve opened up.) And now, 2 weeks into swatch hell? We have a winner, and it’s Distant Gray! It’s never felt too cold, and against any of our stone counter options, it just works.

We’ve since taken down the foam boards, in the off chance I’ll waffle. You know, I can see myself now – stirring pasta sauce on the stove, a glass of wine in hand, thinking, come to think of it, maybe we should go with Super White after all. Scott, what do you think? (Silence.) Scott?

Distant Gray, it’s a go!

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  • Julia@Cukoo4Design1.8.15 - 7:00 AM

    I chose white appliances too and went through the challenge of picking white for my all white kitchen.ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.8.15 - 9:43 AM

      It is definitely a challenge. What was your final color?ReplyCancel

  • Loryn1.8.15 - 8:26 AM

    Distant gray is definitely the right choice!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square1.8.15 - 8:55 AM

    People don’t realize how hard it is to pick a white shade! We’ve had to do it for our bathroom and our living room, both ended up being different, with room lighting and surrounding materials/colors that influenced our choices. Your kitchen sounds like it’s going to be a beauty.ReplyCancel

  • Kim1.8.15 - 9:34 AM

    Super exciting! We bought our house already rehabbed, and it drives me NUTS that our appliances are white and our cabinets are a light cream color. Good on you for being diligent about the right color. :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.8.15 - 9:42 AM

      We figured that since we’re investing in these new cabinets, it only makes sense to get those details right. It would make us so sad to spend all that money and have them installed and be… yellow!ReplyCancel

  • Piper1.8.15 - 10:47 AM

    How funny- I JUST finished painting my minuscule powder room in Distant Gray. I picked it to match the existing cool white color of the pedestal sink and toilet. When you mentioned you needed a cool white, my first thought was Distant Gray!ReplyCancel

  • Jaime1.8.15 - 11:02 AM

    What a great idea to paint the foam core to test colors!!! If I had only known that a few years ago when I was picking colors for my condo, I wouldn’t have had to live for months with random splotches all over my walls. I too, am a TOTAL waffler when it comes to things like picking paint colors! Ha!ReplyCancel

  • Theresa1.8.15 - 11:10 AM

    After picking up a bazillion swatches we went with simply white on our cabinets. It was the only one without a telltale undertone to it. (until it was sanded then the dust was ever so slightly green) With our black granite counters and repainted walls it is, indeed, fantastic.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly1.8.15 - 12:09 PM

    Love your choice! And I know your pain all too well. I just refinished my kitchen cabinets and spent weeks agonizing over the color! I ultimately went with Sherwin Williams Pure White, which was painted on the cabinets and the walls. Sometimes it feels a bit too cool, but I’ve added some wooden accents, like baskets and shelves which help. One thing to consider is the tile color, too. Different brands of tile have different shades! I went with standard white subway tiles, but returned the first set and ultimately purchased from a different retailer because they were too warm compared to the cabinet color. If you are already set on tiles pull them out to see if your paint choice goes with them, and if you aren’t sold on a tile choice yet, I suggest choosing now, before the painting starts :-). Good luck and I can’t wait to see the results!ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.8.15 - 12:31 PM

      Great advice! We have tile shopping on our to do list this weekend, and it’s a priority after a panicked moment of wondering if we might have went with the wrong white. Ha, I’m hopeless!ReplyCancel

  • melbajo1.8.15 - 2:19 PM

    We are so alike – for every room in my house I’ve painted swatch after swatch, changing my mind a million times before deciding. I tried ten sample pots of different blue/greens for the bathroom – ten! – and finally chose the very first one I picked out. My process seems ridiculous, BUT, I am super happy with every room now, no regrets at all! Now I’m working on picking a white for the exterior and it’s really got me stumped. I don’t do the foam core swatch method, no, I’m slapping that paint right up on the outside of my house, which now looks like a patchwork quilt. I think I’m up to 15 now, gah! Trying to find a white that does not look yellow, nor pink, nor dirty, but also won’t be super bright and glare-y in the Arizona sunshine. Help!ReplyCancel

    • Kim1.8.15 - 2:26 PM

      I think it’s better to have 10 or 15 test pots going in the long run, saving you from having to repaint a whole room (like we’re about to do in the living room – grr)! So, I know all white is different depending on the light, but we were so happy with Designer White by Valspar in the satin exterior finish:

      It never reads blue or yellow, and it doesn’t feel obnoxiously bright either! It doesn’t hurt to get a test pot… ;)ReplyCancel

      • melbajo1.8.15 - 2:48 PM

        You are a gem for responding! I’m going to go take a look at designer white now. Test pot #16, here we go!
        BTW, love your blog and all of the big and small projects you’ve been doing in your house. I am two years deep into old house home ownership and it’s so fun watching how far you’ve come – gives me hope! And inspiration – just bought two of the aluma ceiling fans – thank you for doing all the legwork on white ceiling fans so I could just click purchase and not have to obsess about it!! :)ReplyCancel

        • Kim1.8.15 - 2:54 PM

          Aah, the Aluma! I remember that dilemma as if it was yesterday… we’re so happy with ours!

          And thank you :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda1.10.15 - 11:01 AM

    I’m glad you were able to pick a white because they all look the same to me lol. I’m guessing the differences were more obvious in person. Picking a color for the main part of the house has proven to be difficult as well. The house is very open so the color will flow from the living room, kitchen, foyer, staircase, and game room upstairs. It’s one thing to pick a color for one room, but this many – yikes!ReplyCancel

  • Lis1.10.15 - 10:20 PM

    We’ve done the majority of our first floor in Distant Gray! Excellent choice :)ReplyCancel

  • Monika1.14.15 - 10:42 AM

    Ah yes, the choosing white paint conundrum. Oye! When I owned a hardware store and sold paint (like a 100 years ago), customers would ask me the difference between one shade of white and another. Back then I was very young and silly and always replied “about $7 a gallon.” Now that I’m (ahem) a few years older, I know how difficult the decision is to picking out a white. I’m on my 4th re-painting of the living room because of it! It’s looked like a patchwork quilt for the better part of 2 years now. Just when I ‘think’ this is THE one, the afternoon sun smacks me upside the head in a what are you thinking display of light. Sigh…back to the drawing board. But I KNOW you guys will nail it and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out!ReplyCancel


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