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The Most Timeless Interior Paint Colours, According to Interior Designers

The Most Timeless Interior Paint Colours, According to Interior Designers

When it comes to paint, "trend colours" will only get you so far — an accent wall here, a powder room makeover there. The real magic is in the staples. So, we sought advice from the experts to find the paint picks that will work in your most-used spaces and stand the test of time. We asked some of our designer friends for their go-to shades for interior spaces — from walls to cabinetry to furniture — and rounded up their top picks for whites, neutrals, and colours that will forever be in style.

Before we get into their picks, let's introduce our colour experts:

The Experts

Andrea Doxey,
Rainsford Company

No introduction needed here — Doxey is the Creative Director and Owner of Rainsford Company, and our resident expert in all things decor.

Cindy McKay,
Cindy McKay Interiors

A Toronto-based interior decorator, McKay specializes in creating beautiful, livable, family spaces that are full of light, pattern and colour.

Andrea McQueen,
Andrea McQueen Design

Focused on comfortable, functional spaces, Burlington, Ontario-based McQueen has a crisp aesthetic and that's both classic and modern.  

Alicia Ruach,
Alicia Ruach Design + Co.

As a holistic designer, Ruach creates spaces that fuse environmentally sustainable materials and finishes with designs that supports mental, physical and emotional wellness.

— Erin Ocampo,
Erin Ocampo Design

Living and working in White Rock, B.C., multitasking and multitalented Ocampo splits her time as an interior designer and a lifestyle photographer.

— Keegan Robinson,
Lemon Drops Reclaimed

Vintage furniture pieces get fresh life in the hands of Robinson, who provides custom furniture refinishing and painting out of her Whitby, Ontario studio.

And now, on to their paint picks!

Designer's Top White Paint Colours

When choosing a white wall paint, our experts are all looking for a similar outcome: A soft but bright white that feels fresh, without looking stark. To fulfil this goal, 'Simply White' by Benjamin Moore is a near-universal favourite. "It's a crisp and clean white with soft yellow undertones that looks beautiful in almost every space, and performs well in both natural and artificial light," says McQueen.

For a slightly warmer white, McKay gravitates towards Benjamin Moore's 'Cloud White,' which she says adds "just the right amount of creaminess — not chalky looking!" Ocampo's pick, 'Alabaster' by Sherwin Williams, is also on the creamier side, and is equally adaptable: "It goes so well in any home," she says.

A step further off-white, Benjamin Moore's 'Swiss Coffee' is more milky with slightly golden undertone that comes out more or less depending what colours are next to it. "It's beautiful choice for rooms without large windows," says Doxey. "It has a soft, lit-from-within glow that acts as artificial light in rooms that don't get a lot of from outside" says Doxey.

For a more neutral base, Ruach recommends Benjamin Moore's ‘White Dove.’ "Its a clean, airy and slightly cool white that has a touch of grey," she says. "It is a great option for cabinetry, millwork and trim in the home."

For furniture, Robinson's pick is Fusion Mineral Paint’s Picket Fence. "I love it because it’s a clean, fresh, bright white with no undertones."

'Cloud White' bathroom by Cindy McKay Design. Photo by Kerri Torrey Photography.

'White Dove' living room by Phoebe Howard.

'Simply White' living room by Studio McGee.

Designer's Top Neutral Paint Colours

You've probably heard that grey walls are on their way out — and while that's not wrong, it's not quite accurate either. Rather, pure greys are being replaced by shades of greige: a blend of beige and grey.

These blended neutrals can have any variety of undertone, but our experts most often choose those that lean on the warmer side. McQueen's pick, Benjamin Moore's 'Gray Owl,' is a prime example of why: "It adds the perfect amount of warmth and dimension without overpowering a space," she says — and really, isn't that exactly what you want in a neutral? For an ever-so-slightly warmer, richer option, Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore (Doxey's pick) ticks all the same boxes, making it a beautiful pick in transitional spaces or open-plan rooms.

Ruach likes Sherwin Williams's ‘Agreeable Gray’ for its versatility. "It's a neutral hue with an even blend of warm and cool" she explains. In natural light, it looks greige, while in lower light, it veers towards a warmer grey. "Because of its adaptability, it can set the perfect backdrop for furniture and accessories in the home," she says.

It's that same versatility that draws McKay to 'Classic Gray' by Benjamin Moore, a warm grey that she says mixes well with both warm and cool tones. Ocampo's choice, 'Repose Gray' from Sherwin Williams, is another mid-toned grey "that can lean warm or cool depending on what is in the room."

Aside from walls, these versatile neutrals are also great on cabinetry and furniture. Since they balance warm and cool undertones, metal hardware shines in any finish. Robinson likes to pair Mango Paint's 'Yvonne' — a subtle, warm tan — with aged brass hardware for a striking look.

'Gray Owl' bathroom by Andrea McQueen.

'Yvonne' dresser by Lemon Drops Reclaimed.

'Revere Pewter' kitchen by John K. Anderson Design.

When it comes to more, well, colourful paint colours, our experts namecheck shades in almost every hue.

Doxey loves 'Seattle Gray' by Benjamin Moore for its sweet-but-not-too-sweet blue hue. "I chose this shade for my toddler daughters room; the hint of grey makes it a more sophisticated choice than a pure powder blue, so it she won't age out of it as she grows up." For another pastel option, McKay loves the freshness of Benjamin Moore's 'First Light,' a soft and pretty pink that mimics the first rays of morning sunlight and is surprisingly versatile.

'Wales Gray' by Benjamin Moore is far more green than grey, with a kiss of blue for softness. Says McQueen, "it would look stunning painted on walls andtrim in a room (I'm envisioning a library, a study, a room with a piano...)"

If you can't decide between green or blue, follow Ocampo's advice and look at 'Newburg Green' from Benjamin Moore. The richly pigmented shade is a perfect halfway point between the two.

Ruach and Robinson prefer punched-up neutrals: 'Jitney' from Farrow & Ball is a relaxing sandy brown that Ruach likes for its the calming and uplifting effect it has on a room. Mango Paint's 'Xavier' is a moody and inviting grey that Robinson says goes with everything, "really!"

'Seattle Gray' living room by Phoebe Howard.

'First Light' bedroom by Ulla Johnson.

'Wales Gray' mantle by Andrea McQueen.

Feeling daring? On the opposite side of the colour spectrum are statement making shades of deep blues, greens, and blacks. Our experts love these for their statement making power, but also for their timelessness

Farrow & Ball's 'Hague Blue' has an amazing depth of colour, and adds such richness to spaces," says McKay. For a sophisticated look, use it on walls, baseboards, and trim all in a matte finish. Or, opt for high-gloss to really bring our the shade's teal-green tones. Looking to bring similar pow to a piece of furniture? Robinson names Fusion Mineral Paint’s 'Midnight Blue' as her go-to. "This colour’s ability to bring drama while remaining classic makes it a regular in my rotation."

McQueen describes 'Hale Navy' by Benjamin Moore as "classic, bold, elegant, and fresh" — yes, that's right: Fresh. The dark blue-charcoal balances warm and cool equally, is dusty enough not to be overpowering, and works in both contemporary or traditional settings. Its counterpart in the green family is Benjamin Moore's 'Fatigue Green,' a rich, dark olive. Ruach says it's perfect in a dining room or bedroom, "creating a feeling of intimacy, calmness and sophistication."

For shades just this side of black, 'Soot' and 'Onyx,' both by Benjamin Moore, are sure bets as all-in accents. 'Soot' leans slightly lighter and cooler, described by Ocampo as "a beautiful moody charcoal," while 'Onyx' is darker and more neutral — "great on a front door, or as a bold backdrop for art on a gallery wall," suggests Doxey.

'Midnight Blue' dresser by Lemon Drops Reclaimed.

'Hague Blue' dining room by Cindy McKay

'Fatigue Green' bedroom by LeClair Decor

'Hale Navy' island by Andrea McQueen.

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