"Dark white" is the new color trend that we think might replace warm neutrals for more expensive-looking homes

This nuanced wall color is making a splash with designers for light, luxurious spaces as an alternative to warm-toned off whites

dark white living room with wooden paneling
(Image credit: Cuppett Kilpatrick)

When it comes to painting your walls, white is undoubtedly one of the world’s favorite colors but this forever-favored hue is evolving. We may have seen warm off-whites sitting on the throne when it comes to neutrals, but ‘Dark White’ is a newly crowned king for interior designers and architects, offering all the light and reflection of its pure predecessor but with an albeit moodier temperament. 

This is down to its cool undertone, which comes from marrying the slightest hint of grey with pure white. Not only does this color trend give the shade a more sophisticated finish, but it also helps your walls feel less stark and sterile. The new hue offers the perfect equilibrium for those seeking a color that works well with other tones but doesn’t conform to tradition. We spoke to interior designers and color experts to see how they bring the best of ‘Dark White’ to their designs. Through these examples, they shared their thoughts on the crisp and clean hue and how it can work to elevate your interiors.


dark white dining room

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

This airy dining room covered in Farrow & Ball’s Blackened white showcases the duality of ‘Dark White’. As the light shines into the space, areas of white feel crisp and bright but elsewhere they feel softer and serene allowing the edgier undertones to come forth. 

'Balanced layers of color are so important in the home at the moment so bright white trim is less in favor - rather use a white that is more complimentary to your wall color or indeed a ‘darker’ white on the walls themselves,' says Joa Studholme, Color Curator at Farrow & Ball. 'The cooler tones of Farrow & Ball’s Blackened, which was historically made with the addition of pigment gathered for the smoke of oil lamps, are perfect for the contemporary home whether you want an uncompromisingly modern finish or a softer old-world feel.' 

Studholme raises an important point, perhaps the appeal of ‘Dark White’ in part lies in its ability to help bridge a variety of hues, be they light or dark, within your interior. It's one of the best white paints to try for this trend. 


Douglas Friedman, Design: Danielle Richter)

(Image credit: Danielle Richter)

New York-based interior designer Danielle Richter demonstrates how ‘Dark White’ can provide the perfect canvas for an elegant and enticing dining moment. The white in this space is made that much edgier by the dark flooring, burnished brass accents, and definitive black details. The artwork works to add some color to the scene and inject personality into the room too as the designer shares. 

'I wanted to treat my dining room like a Parisian salon where the artwork was the star,' Danielle says. 'I clad the walls with boiserie to break up the large walls and create a backdrop for the art. I painted the walls and paneling the same White Diamond by Benjamin Moore to create a textural feel. In the evening, the wall color allowed the vintage lights and custom dining table to glow like candles.'

You can take a similar approach to dark white by choosing to play into the deeper tones in the white with darker accents.


dark white living room with pink sofa

(Image credit: Fran Parente, Design: Ryan Korban))

This Fifth Avenue residence design from international interior designer Ryan Korban presents the synergies between the softness of a muted pink and the sharp nature of ‘Dark White’. The two work to balance one another. As a color that goes with pink, the white tempers the sweetness of the shade whilst the latter brings levity and color to this elegant space. 

When asked about the appeal of the ‘Dark White’, Korban shared his thoughts on the enticing shade. 'I have always been drawn to that last shade of white just before grey. To me, it evokes such emotion,' says the New York-based interior designer. You can dial up this evocative base with tones and textures that compliment or contrast its coolness, further emphasizing the appeal of this effortless shade.


dark white living room with wooden paneling

(Image credit: Cuppett Kilpatrick)

Austin-based studio, Cuppett Kilpatrick offers a charming example of how ‘Dark White’ can be used in conjunction with traditional and warm interior elements like wooden paneling. The dark wall paneling gives the scheme a grounded nature and envelops the interior whilst the refreshing doses of ‘Dark White’ bring light into the room. 

'Crisp, cool white was selected for paint and accessories to contrast the warm color saturation of the wood paneling,' says founding partner of Cuppett Kilpatrick, Tim Cuppett. 'Light grey with a hint of green in upholstery pulls in color from a swimming pool beyond.' 

If you are looking to take advantage of existing architectural features or want to bring the elegance of paneled walls into your home, darker tones of white work well to balance your interior as you seek to balance classic and contemporary styles.


black and dark white living room

(Image credit: Fran Parente, Design: Ryan Korban)

Varieties of black, grey, and white decorate this Upper East Side apartment created by contemporary interior designer Ryan Korban. The curated choice of colors creates a wonderful sense of depth in this space. When asked about the strength of ‘Dark White’ in this scheme, Korban says: 'It balances that sense of drama without feeling dark.' 

For those seeking a pared-back and elegant interior, this project shows an example of best in class as each detail works in unison, referencing the dark and light within the walls with ease.

Writer and design expert Faaizah Shah is the founder of The Interiors Consultancy. She has worked with designers such as Staffan Tollgard and design houses such as Sanderson to help them understand and communicate their narratives. She is known for crafting engaging stories and imaginative content, and understanding great decor from her years alongside some of the best creatives in the industry. She is also a contributor to Livingetc.