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How to choose the right white

But what shade of white??! There are hundreds of different whites to choose from and when it comes to selecting just one, it’s a decision that gets so many of us stumped – me included!

Warm and cool whites throw different tones into a space and change the mood of the room, so there is certainly some pressure attached when it comes to picking the right shade!

According to Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux’s Colour Expert, various elements, such as the amount of natural light your home receives and the colours of your flooring and soft furnishings, can affect the way a shade looks on your walls. Andrea says:

“We enlisted design ambassadors who live and breathe whites, so they can arm consumers with the knowledge they need to make the selection process simple and fun – showing them how to get their white right the first time.”

Dulux ambassadors Lucy Feagins of The Design Files, Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors, The Real Estate Stylist’s Sara Chamberlain and Amy Chamberlain-Primrose, and Bonnie Hindmarsh and Lana Taylor of Three Birds Renovations reveal how they have used Australia’s eight most-loved Dulux whites in their work and living spaces. Let’s take a look!

Above: Dulux with Lucy Feagins of The Design Files. Colour: Dulux Lexicon® Quarter. Photography: Amelia Stanwix

Choosing the right white – with Lucy Feagins of The Design Files

At The Design Files, we photograph homes every week, so I am always in a different home and exposed to varying styles. It is clear where certain whites work best.

Generally, I like bright, slightly blueish-toned whites in contemporary, open plan and industrial spaces. I find warmer whites are better suited to older spaces with period character, such as Victorian or Edwardian homes.

My advice is to always use a sample pot or a brush out; bringing your two to three favourite whites into the space you intend to paint, comparing them in the light at different times of the day.

Also, it’s not just about the colour of the paint, it is also about the texture of the paint, how many coats is it going to need and the way it reflects light. It’s important that you trust the paint that you are working with.

Top two whites

Lexicon® Quarter is a versatile white that has a slightly blueish undertone – it is crisp, clean and bright and works beautifully in modern spaces, as well as a backdrop for colourful and eclectic art, furnishings and homewares.

Whisper White is warm, welcoming and has substance, and period properties – Victorian and Edwardian homes – benefit from this white given its depth. In a space that doesn’t get much bright sunlight, Dulux Whisper White can really lift the room.

Above: Dulux with Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors. Colour: Dulux Antique White U.S.A.® Photography: Amelia Stanwix

Choosing the right white – with Julia Green of Greenhouse Interiors

Choosing the right white  paint can be overwhelming, as there are literally hundreds of whites to select from! And viewing them and their subtleties on a tiny swatch – and then imagining them on the walls – can be a near impossible task for many. Not all whites are created equal and they can completely change the way a room feels!

So you need to think about how you want to feel in the space first and foremost. Then consider your surrounds and the amount of natural light that enters your space. Cool whites have a blue/black base, and translate as sharp, fresh, crisp and contemporary on the walls. They also neutralise natural sunlight so work well in north facing rooms where sunlight is at its peak; whereas warmer whites have a yellow/brown base and throw off warmer hues making a room feel cozier.

Choosing the right white checklist:

  • Always always trial a generous test patch first.
  • Speak to the professionals about the nuances of white as they are experts in their field and can share the ins and outs of each choice with you.
  • How do you want to feel in the space? This will dictate your colour choice in the biggest way and help you decide between cool and warm whites based on their different properties.

Top two whites

Antique White U.S.A.® is my hero of all whites as it is fresh and crisp without being austere and clinical, and tends to work in most spaces despite varied conditions. A total all-rounder that never disappoints!

Hog Bristle® Quarter is a beautiful warm white that has the slightest ‘biscuit’ undertone – it has always been my go-to when creating cozy spaces. I have seen this colour work beautifully in heritage homes, but equally in spacious lofts to avoid austerity.

Above: Dulux with Bonnie Hindmarsh of Three Birds Renovations. Colour: Dulux Vivid WhiteTM. Photography: Amelia Stanwix

Choosing the right white – with Bonnie Hindmarsh of Three Birds Renovations

We love to layer whites and textures. If we do use pops of colour such as blush, pink and soft greys, it is introduced through artwork or furniture pieces. When we renovate, we like consistent colour throughout the space – meaning painting the same colour on the ceilings, walls and all the trims. We do change the sheen level, however, using low sheen on the walls and semi-gloss for skirting and architraves.

Paint a large swatch of your shortlisted colours on the wall – immediately all is revealed about their differences and their nuances. Ensure you look at the painted swatches in the morning, the afternoon and at night to see how the colour changes under different light conditions.

Top two whites

For me, I don’t like a white to throw too much yellow or too much blue – so Dulux Vivid WhiteTM is perfect as it sits in the middle. It is the purest white you can get.

White on WhiteTM is a cooler-toned white that is clean and energising, suited to modern homes with timber or concrete flooring, as well as hard surface areas like the kitchen and bathroom.

Above: Dulux with The Real Estate Stylist. Colour: Dulux Natural WhiteTM. Photography: Amelia Stanwix

Choosing the right white – with Sara Chamberlain and Amy Chamberlain-Primrose of The Real Estate Stylist.

Don’t fall into the trap of trends when choosing a white. Think about your house and the space you are selecting the white for. If you have a light and bright space with a cooler colour scheme in carpet or cabinetry, then a cooler white may be for you. If you want to add some warmth to an older property that has a warmer scheme, such as cream carpet or tiling, then perhaps a warm white is the way to go. Think of your white as the backdrop to the rest of your house.

Top two whites

Natural WhiteTM is a warm white and its versatility spans across new and old properties, contemporary homes, as well as traditional. It is an excellent choice if you are giving your home a facelift before sale as it is easy to work with when styling with fresh plants and light coloured furniture.”

Lexicon® is a bold white and pairs brilliantly with timber flooring, exposed brick and polished concrete. It is a perfect shade for displaying your artwork collection or bouncing around lots of natural sunlight.

All of the experts recommend that once you have narrowed the choice, to use sample pots and trial the colours through large painted swatches on the wall, reviewing them at morning, noon and night to see how they change under varying light conditions. More tips available at Dulux’s Most Loved Whites resource.

4 thoughts on “How to choose the right white”

  1. Loving the white paint advice!!
    Any more tips on painting walls, ceilings, skirting, trims and doors in the same shade? I’m stuck as to what to do….! I have a late 90’s property which receives a mid level of natural light. I’m thinking all the same shade but just don’t know… thank you I’m advance for any advice!

  2. I just can’t seem to skip a day without reading your blog . Everything in it just fascinates me , specially that you are able to send the message accross very well. Thanks again Emily!

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