White is an ideal neutral backdrop. Pictures: Henley
WHEN it comes to selecting white paint for your home, the choice is not as black and white as you might think.
There are hundreds of different whites to choose from, so it’s easy to become a little overwhelmed.
But by following a few simple tips, you’ll be on the white track in no time.
The look is fresh and clean.
According to Henley colour and design consultant Heidi Schwieters, white-painted walls, ceilings and trims help ground the look of a room.
“Having a white backdrop is often a perfect balance to larger elements of the home, such as flooring and cabinetry,” Ms Schwieters said.
“It also enables furnishings or decor to be changed easily from season to season as the inspiration changes.”
She added, however, that even something as simple as white could look different and create a different feel in a room depending on the amount of natural light, the decor and the finishes.
“In a new-build situation, the wall colour is generally the last selection you’ll make,” Ms Schwieters said.
New-home buyers make this choice as part of their colour and selections session, which comes after they have picked their home design and signed the building contract.
“We work with our clients to create a flat-lay where samples of all their chosen finishes are laid out beautifully so they can see how they work together. Then, we will choose a white paint to complement this.”
Wall colour is usually the last choice you’ll make when building new.
Take a tone
The undertone is a subtle colour that appears through the paint’s white base. It injects a nuance that gives each shade a point of difference. It also helps distinguish warm whites and cool whites.
Ms Schwieters said it was often not until whites were paired with other colours or viewed in certain lighting that the undertone became apparent.
Ending up with the wrong undertone could be frustrating, which is why she recommended trying out your choice first before committing.
“Get some samples and paint a large piece of cardboard or timber that you can move around and see how it works in different rooms,” she said.
“You can then explore how it comes up in different light and shaded areas and have a feel for living with this colour.”
Consider how light and decor will affect your paint picks.
Warm whites have yellow, red or brown undertones and are used to introduce a cosy feel in a room and complement furniture and fixtures that have warmer hues, such as timbers.
“Warm whites tend to suit more traditional homes and are perfect for smaller rooms with less natural light,” Ms Schwieters said, adding they created a classic and sophisticated interior style in homes with feature trims, heritage design or neutral colour schemes.
“They generate a soft, comfortable feel and work particularly well with earthy and organic furnishings and decor.”
Ms Schwieters said colours to consider included Dulux’s Natural White, Snowy Mountains, Whisper White and Grand Piano Quarter.
White is an easy colour to live with — if you get the undertone right.
Keep your cool
Cool whites are the perfect match for contemporary and open-plan settings. They have hints of grey, blue, blue-pink, green and even black undertones.
“They can work well in rooms that have big windows and receive lots of sun,” Ms Schwieters said.
“You don’t want to be in a home that is full of earthy tones and textures with a cold white on the wall. The room needs to have a really good balance for it to feel right.
“Also, don’t just assume a cool white is the best solution with stone finishes because so many stones today have warm undertones to make them feel softer.”
Cool-base whites could look sharp and bright, Ms Schwieters said, which is why they worked well in minimalist or Scandinavian-inspired homes with bold architecture and raw materials.
She recommended using colours such as Dulux’s Vivid White, White on White and Lexicon if you wanted whites on the cooler side of the spectrum.
Sample cards will help you choose.
Teaming crisp-white trims (such as skirting boards and architraves) with contemporary charcoal walls is still popular.
Ms Schwieters said she had also noticed people experimenting with white trims and black doors.
That said, don’t always assume you have to make a statement by contrasting white against a darker colour. You can also create impact through white on white.
“Having a matt white on the wall and using a gloss-white version on the trims, such as skirting boards and architraves, can create contrast, add some definition and really make things pop,” Ms Schwieters said.