Designer Lauren Liess likes to pair Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee on walls with Seashell for trim, shown here in a Washington living room. (Helen Norman)

“White on white when done right can be one of the most beautiful and versatile paint color combinations,” says Washington designer Kiera Kushlan.

But for the untrained eye, picking out a good white out of hundreds of choices is a tough-enough task. Coordinating a perfect trim color to go with it can be even more challenging.

“Neutrals are difficult to select because thought needs to be given to whether a warm or cool tone best suits the project,” says Josh Hildreth, a Reston designer. “Natural light and lighting conditions need to be considered.”

Charles Almonte, a Silver Spring designer, says it’s always helpful to test your paint colors before you actually paint a room. He advises painting a two-foot square of your wall, along with a piece of trim adjoining it, in the colors you’re considering. Then look at them “in different times of day and see how they react to the light,” he says. “It will help you see whether it’s the right combination.”

Want some more insider tips? We asked some designers to share their go-to combinations.

Lauren Liess, Lauren Liess & Co., Great Falls

Walls: Swiss Coffee, matte, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

Trim: Seashell, semigloss, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

“For a look where the trim is slightly darker than the walls, I love Swiss Coffee and Seashell. It’s beautiful in historical homes where the woodwork is worth being played up or in newer homes to add a sense of age and permanence.”

Charles Almonte, Charles Almonte Architecture/Interior Design, Silver Spring

Walls: Balboa Mist, eggshell, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

Trim: White Dove, semigloss, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

“Balboa Mist is in the light gray family with almost a hint of purple. That slight hint of color is what gives it a sense of warmth. I like a sharp, contrasting white against that, such as White Dove. This gives the walls definition, while the semigloss sheen highlights the profiles and details of moldings.”

Designer Charles Almonte likes to pair Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist on walls with White Dove on trims, moldings, doors and windows. (Charles Almonte)
Josh Hildreth, Josh Hildreth Interiors, Reston

Walls: Slipper Satin, dead flat finish, Farrow & Ball (Farrow & Ball)

Trim: White Tie, modern emulsion finish, Farrow & Ball (Farrow & Ball)

“White Tie is a perfect soft white that avoids looking cream, and Slipper Satin is a wonderful neutral white that has a warm cast. This is a foundation for a warm, layered room. It is a great choice if you are moving into a home and have not sorted out where everything will go, and works in both traditional and contemporary spaces.”

In this foyer in the Fan district in Richmond, designer Josh Hildreth paired Farrow & Ball's Slipper Satin on the walls and White Tie on the trim. (Kip Dawkins)

Kiera Kushlan, Residents Understood, Washington

Walls: Decorator’s White, eggshell, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

Trim: Ice Mist, high gloss. Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

“Ice Mist is a wonderful pure white and when done in a high gloss can make trim and woodwork really pop. Decorator’s White has a cool undertone, which pairs nicely with the cool undertones in Ice Mist, making rooms feel fresh and bright.”

This bedroom in a Washington condo is painted in one of Kiera Kushlan’s favorite combinations: Benjamin Moore's Decorator’s White on walls and Ice Mist on trim. (Bonnie Sen Photography)

Stuart Nordin, Stuart Nordin Home & Design, Alexandria and Richmond

Walls: Sail Cloth, eggshell, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

Trim: Chantilly Lace, semigloss, Benjamin Moore (Benjamin Moore)

“Neutral doesn’t mean boring! I love a neutral paint color on walls to allow for art and furnishings to make the statements in a room. The key is choosing a neutral with the right level of pigment. White on white can often be too cold, so I frequently opt for just a touch of light gray or light khaki on walls.”

For a penthouse project in Chevy Chase, designer Stuart Nordin painted Benjamin Moore’s Sail Cloth on the walls and Chantilly Lace on the trim. (Matthew Kleinrock)