How To Select The Right White Paint

One of the most common questions I'm asked as an interior designer is "which white paint should I use"?  It sounds simple... how hard can it be?  You select white, white or white right?  Wrong!  Choosing the correct shade for your walls is probably the single most important decorating decision you will make.  Not only will it set the tone for the entire scheme, but will effect every other component of the interior (and your mood!).

Here's How To Select The RIGHT White Paint:

STEP 1: CHOOSE A TONAL FAMILY

There are hundreds of different shades of white on the market so you need to narrow the field.  Broadly speaking, whites fall into three main categories; pure whites, warm whites and cool whites.  When you look at a colour chart you will likely be instinctively drawn to either cool or warm tones.  On the whole, warmer tones work best in more traditional interiors while cooler tones suit a more modern space.  The pure whites are great for trim (architraves, skirting, doors etc) and will make the wall colour pop.  A word of warning: warm tones with a strong yellow base will look a bit dated and throw cream when in direct sunlight while cool shades with a strong grey base can end up looking clinical and cold.

STEP 2: LOOK AT THE SHADES IN SITU

Once you have figured out which tonal family suits you prefer, start picking out particular shades you like.  I always recommend that clients paint large pieces of cardboard (1m x 1m) with a test pot rather than painting directly onto the wall - that way you can easily pick them up and carry them to different parts of the house to test different lighting situations (make sure you paint two or three coats and also paint a strip of the trim colour the same width as your skirting).  Testing the colours in your home is a critical step as different lighting conditions will have a tremendous impact upon the look of the paint.  What looks great in once house will not necessarily work in another.  If you are choosing colours for a new home not yet built, order large brush-out samples from the paint manufacturer (large A4 colour chips) and look at them in similar lighting conditions.  It is always amazing how different a shade looks in a big piece!

STEP 3: CREATE A COLOUR BOARD OF ALL FINISHES

Many clients come to me completely overwhelmed by the prospect of making decisions on the colour of paint and hard finishes.  The best approach I have come up with over the years is to select everything at once.  Choose carpet, tiles, timber colours, laminates and other key items at the same time as you choose the paint.  Never choose anything independently.  That way you can change things as required once you see them all laid out together - believe me it's far easier to alter a paint colour (of which there are endless options) rather than change a carpet colour you love!

MY CURRENT FAVOURITE WHITE COLOUR SCHEMES

For fresh, contemporary spaces try Dulux Whisper White (walls) + Dulux Lexicon Quarter (trim)

For traditional spaces try Dulux White Duck Quarter (walls) + Dulux Natural White (trim)