I love an all-white interior – chalky white walls, bare floorboards, linen drapes dancing in the breeze…snap to the reality of me sitting in what feels like a freezing cold padded cell sans padding! So how do you choose a great white (paint) that won’t bite? How much is there really to choosing white paint? I hear you ask. Well, without some basic knowledge (which I am here to give you) and some research (you have to do that bit yourselves) about your space, choosing a white paint for your interior can be quite tricky and you can end up with an interior feeling more institutional than it does dreamy island escape! So how do you know which white is right?
It’s all about undertone! Just like an undercurrent at the beach, you must check the undertone of the white before you dive in! Did you know that most whites have a colour undertone? I certainly didn’t before I started to study colour! Blue, Pink, Yellow Grey, Beige…and the variety within these varieties is endless.
The undertone will make all the difference in your space depending on the details of the space (this is the research part). For instance, if you have a Bedroom that faces south, that room is likely to get less light and be cooler, if your white of choice is, say Dulux White on White, the undertone in that white is quite blue and as a result your room may take on even colder quality than you may have liked. A white such as Dulux Summer Cloud, which has a soft pink quality, will make the room feel warmer, while still evoking the spaciousness and peace that we want our white rooms to offer. On the flip side, if you have a room that captures the hot western sun, a cooler white like Dulux Lexicon Half, which is a crisp white but appears slightly grey/blue in undertone could a brilliant fit.
If you are looking to paint a white throughout the whole house, that will be in rooms of different orientations, I feel that your best bet will be a crisp white that has little or no undertone, such as Dulux Vivid White, this will also help to create a sense of unity throughout your home.
When doing your research, look at the orientation (North, South, East, West) and the environment. If there is a lot of greenery or a sandy red desert outside your window, the interior will take on some of these colour qualities too, so take this into consideration and how you want the space to feel, cooler, warmer etc…
Before you commit to a white it is important to try it out. A common tip is to paint a square on your wall and see how it looks, what you may not realise is that the current wall colour may alter how the white appears, my tip is to order a brush-out (an A4 paint chip) of your shortlisted whites and stick them onto separate plain white sheets of paper, or you could paint a test area in Dulux Vivid white as a clean base, this will give you a true representation of how the different whites will appear in your room. Live with these for a few weeks so you can see how they react to the light at different times of day and at night.
Like with the painting itself, preparation is key to the selection of a great white you can live with. Do your research, talk to the staff at your local paint store, your painter or a colour consultant, they have a wealth of practical knowledge to help you. As long as you do your preparation well, you’ll end up with a great white that won’t bite!
Jed Murphy is a Sydney based colour consultant and award-winning interior Design Student offering an original and strong client focussed vision for thoughtful and beautiful interiors.