A fresh coat of white paint is one of the easiest (and cheapest!) way to make over a room.  And while it may seem like a straightforward choice, a quick flick through a paint chart will quickly get confusing – white is actually one of the hardest colour options to pick!  Deciding to paint your home white is just the first step – finding the right white is a different story.

White can be as vivid or as soft as any other colour and come in a range of tints and undertones.  A decorator may be surprised to find that different rooms require different whites, so hold off on buying the same shade in bulk until you’ve examined your home and considered each room.  It will be a bit more effort to customise your whites room by room, but you’ll achieve a far more pleasing effect.



By holding a white piece of paper next to your paint sample or test patch, you will quickly see that your white is not white at all as the complexity and nuances of the colour are revealed.

Warm whites with an undertone of red, orange, yellow or brown create a cozy atmosphere and are good for rooms that need warming up.  Warm whites feel organic, pairing well with natural elements such as wooden floors and are well suited to classic architecture and styling.

Cool whites with an undertone of blue, green, purple, grey or black make a space appear larger, and need an abundance of warm natural light to avoid feeling clinical.  Cool whites suit contemporary or modern styling.

Light and reflections


The same white paint can make one room appear bright and airy, and make the next room seem cold and unwelcoming.  Consider your light sources – you may need to consider different shades or tints of white in different rooms.  A sunny, north-facing room will have different white ‘needs’ compared to your bathroom or closet.

White and off-white also pick up the hue of other pieces in the room.  If you have a vividly coloured rug or sofa, your paint will reflect this colour back.  By choosing a paint with a matching undertone, you will minimise this effect since the contrast will not be as strong, and a matte finish will reflect less light than a high gloss.  The lighting and reflections will make your eyes view the colour quite differently than you thought it looked on a small colour square.

Test it


It’s important to try a testpot of your chosen shades.  Choose several shades that you think will be right for your home and paint them onto a large piece of wood or cardboard – at least two coats!  Move these pieces around various rooms at different times of day to see what effect they have.

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