Pick up a few paint samples and you’ll see there are all shades of white, ranging from icy cool to creamy warm and everything in between. The experts use different ones for different applications – a crisp, cool white may be used to highlight decorative cornices, for instance, while a classic warm white instantly lends a relaxed ambience. “All whites, whether warm, cool or even neutral, will reflect light and create a feeling of space,” says Dulux colour and communications manager Andrea Lucena-Orr. Read on for four key palettes.
As rich toffee tones replace cool greys as the look of the moment, warm whites offer the perfect backdrop. “Warm whites that create a soft, enveloping effect are fast finding popularity,” says Taubmans chief coloursmith Rachel Lacy. They can create a cosy atmosphere, particularly in rooms that aren’t blessed with loads of sunlight, and are typically favoured in older-style homes. Warm whites have a yellow, orange, pink or red base, which is barely perceptible to the eye but makes all the difference to how a room feels.
Try: Taubmans Pale Cream, British Paints White Beam, Dulux White Dune Half, Porter’s Paints Irish Linen
These have undertones of grey, blue, mauve or green, giving them a crispness perfectly in step with edgy minimalist architecture. “Cooler whites tend to display a more modernist or contemporary feel,” says Andrea. Cool whites are also useful for counteracting yellow tones in spaces awash with natural light. However, pay attention to the ‘temperature’ of artificial lights in your home as these can bring out unwanted undertones in whites. “Cool whites in a room with blue light, for example, can make the space feel cold and unwelcoming,” warns Rachel.
Try: Dulux Lexicon Half, Taubmans Miss Universe, British Paints Infinity White, Dulux Lexicon Quarter
The new kid on the design block, pinky whites are slowly cementing their style status. “Pale, earthy neutrals create a warm, comforting space,” says Rachel. Think whites that skew towards pale beige and rose, offering an irresistible cocooning effect that complements warm colour schemes. How do they differ from classic warm whites? “They tend to have stronger, more visible undertones, making them a more saturated white with an earthier, organic feel to them,” explains Rachel, adding they work well teamed with a warm white.
Try: Taubmans Washed Stone, British Paints Lovey, British Paints Soft Pink, Dulux Treeless
Also known as ‘pure whites’, neutrals are neither cool or warm. “Neutral whites are very versatile,” says Porter’s Paints colour expert Melanie Stevenson. “We call it the ‘perfect white’ because its neutrality makes it team with other colours easily.” A neutral white is also useful if you’re keen to stick to the same paint colour throughout your home, as it should work with whatever light quality and finishes you throw at it. “In sunny rooms go for a neutral white, as the bright light will make a cool white too harsh and a warm white too hot,” suggests Melanie.
Try: Dulux Snowy Mountains Half, Porter’s Paints Popcorn, Taubmans Crisp White, British Paints Snow Peak
To ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish, take a look at our rundown on how to paint.
Photo Credit: Dulux Australia/Amelia Stanwix, Dulux Australia/Lisa Cohen, British Paints, Porter’s Paints, Dulux Australia/Mark Roper