Benjamin Moore Simply White vs. White Dove: How I Chose a White

It’s time to discuss the simply white vs. white dove debate, and I’m here to say there is a right answer to which one is the better white. You’ll read countless articles online talking about the best whites and, if you’re not a design enthusiast, you’re probably thinking, they’re all white. 

And they are. But they’re also so different.

Some whites are warm, others are cool. Some have yellow, creamy undertones. Some are grey. The spectrum of whites varies wildly, and choosing the wrong white can take your room from crisp and fresh to dark and muddy.

Benjamin Moore Simply White vs. White Dove

Two of the most often lauded whites are Benjamin Moore Simply White and Benjamin Moore White Dove. There’s basically a cult following for White Dove. Ask a group of people what their favorite white is, and I can guarantee you half will enthusiastically sing the praises of White Dove.

White Dove is a warm off white with creamy undertones but, in certain spaces, all you’ll see is a clean, classic  white. It’s not stark or sterile. It’s incredible livable.

Simply White also has warm undertones and Benjamin Moore considers it an off white. However, I’d say this leans more towards a crisp, true white, but, again, not in a way that feels sterile or cold.

We did Rosehill Cottage nearly entirely in in White Dove. And it’s a lovely color, however, looking back and knowing what I know now, I may not have done it. But more on why in a minute.

When it came time to finally cover the horrendous matte developer gray that was in our condo, I felt that a clean white would let the molding and all of our many, many prints, documents, and artworks shine. I’d already found incredible secondhand custom drapery that I wanted to take a starring role, and I was working with a company that sent me an ivory slipcover for our sofa. the idea of white as the backdrop felt right. But I was also unsure whether White Dove was the answer again. So I didn’t something out of character.

I swatched both White Dove and Simply White.

How I Decided on Simply White v. White Dove

Admittedly, on camera, these look very similar. But, trust me, in person there was a huge difference. The White Dove read as creamy and warm, almost pink. Meanwhile, Simply White was crisp and fresh.

That’s when I realized that both whites can be right, but there’s a use case that doesn’t get talked about enough.

White Dove is fabulous — if you have abundant natural light. However, in places that don’t see as much natural light, Simply White is brighter and doesn’t get creamy and muddy. In our condo, the living room is south-facing and gets lots of light, and the bedroom gets filtered light throughout the day because it’s north facing, but has a wall of windows. But the hallway and kitchen don’t get as much light, and I wanted a consistent color throughout (besides our navy office). So Simply White was the better choice.

And that’s why I wish I’d done the same at the river. There are a ton of windows in the living area at the river, but it’s north facing, so it’s never getting abundant direct sunlight. It’s light, but it’s not bright. This makes White Dove incredibly creamy. It works because of the decor but, if I was to do it again, I’d go Simply White. And, particularly in the main bedroom, the room that gets the least light (until we add that second window!),  Simply White would have been a better choice.

benjamin moore simply white vs. white dove

White Dove is on the top, Simply White is on the bottom in the image above.

Where It All Went Off the Rails

Now, you’d think with this confident white decision that everything was smooth sailing. Nope. Our bedroom was painted Simply White and it’s fabulous. It’s bright, modern, and sleek. I love it. Then, a few weeks later, our painter came back out and did the rest. We did Simply White Eggshell on the walls, Simply White Semi-Gloss on the trim. Gorgeous.

But it needed a third coat to cover the gray, and we needed more paint.

So I sent Adam to the hardware store — and, somehow, despite giving him the photos of the existing paint cans, he brought home White Dove paint. Note: I don’t know if someone else who wanted White Dove took home Simply White, or if somehow Adam knew the words “White Dove.”

A third coat was done throughout the hallway, kitchen, and living room in White Dove.

Yup. After all the debate, I ended up with the white I didn’t want.

And it’s fine. I wasn’t going to have the painter come out a third time, and we’d been out of town the day he did it, so I wasn’t around to realize it was wrong. So I’ve come to accept the White Dove in our living room and, honestly, it’s not so bad.

benjamin moore simply white vs. white dove


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