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Which White? The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Perfect White Paint

How to pick the perfect white paint



You've chosen your colours and now you need to choose a complimentary white, simple eh? Nope! Why? Because white is never just white (unless you ask my husband).


Forgetting pure brilliant white (there is a time and a place), white paint will always have an underlying tint, often grey, yellow, blue or pink, and because of this, finding the perfect white is a minefield.


That's where I can help. I'll guide you through the process of finding your perfect white.


“...white is never just white (unless you ask my husband)”

Natural Light - which direction does your room face?


The direction your room faces will play a huge part in deciding which white is perfect for your room.

  • South facing rooms; these rooms will receive a lot of natural light, and often feel warm and sunny. They are perfect rooms to decorate as they will work with any choice of white. Whites with cooler undertones will feel warmer in these rooms, bringing a calming feeling to the space. While whites with warm undertones will feel like a big hug. Think about how you want the room to feel and take it from there.

  • North facing rooms; these rooms can feel dark and cold so you want to avoid whites which have a cool undertone to them. Instead, consider whites which have a warmer undertone, such as yellow or red/pink as they will bring some much needed warmth to the space.

  • West facing rooms; the light in these rooms is often cool in the morning but the majority of the light it receives will be warmer afternoon light. West facing rooms work really well with whites that have a red or warmer undertone to them.

  • East facing rooms; the light in these rooms will often appear very bright or blue in colour, due to this, it is best to work with these colours rather than against them. Therefore, consider whites with an undertone of blue or green to compliment the light.


Artificial Light - how will you light your room?


It is important to consider how you plan to light the room and what temperature the light will be.


Klevins (K) is a colour scale used to indicate the temperature of light. 2500-3000K is a very warm, often yellow light. 3500-5000K is a cooler white, ranging from warm white to cool white. 5000-6000K is consider the most similar to daylight, but this doesn't mean it is the right temperature to use for your space. Upwards of 6000K and the light will start to look blue.


These days, most of us have LED lightbulbs and they typically have a temperature of around 3500 kelvins. However, if you are lighting a kitchen or bathroom or modern extension, then chances are you have a light temperature which is a lot cooler. This will impact on how colour, including white, is seen and felt in that space.


You will also want to consider what type of lighting you will use in the room, such as task lighting, architectural lighting and at what time of day will you use the space?

For example, if you have a room that you typically use in the evening, with task lighting, say, reading a book, then the colour you choose will mainly be seen in lower light. How will that look compared to the colour you tested during the day?


How to work out the undertone?


The easiest way to work out the undertone is to compare white paint samples against a pure white background. However, if you are picking a new paint, then you can refer to the colour chart as this will give a description of the colour and the undertone of white paint.


Your Design Scheme


Tying in your colours with your overall design concept is crucial for achieving a cohesive design. It is important to consider everything that you will use in the space, including flooring, furniture, accessories, window treatments and wall art.


It is also important to consider the period of the property. Is it a traditional home with original features that you want to bring to live? Or perhaps you have a more modern home and want to incorporate a Japandi design scheme?

Either way, bringing all the elements together will help ensure you have a design that compliments your property.


Testing White Paint


When testing white paint it is important to always paint the sample on white paper or card. Paint right to the edge, leaving no gaps and use the biggest swatch you can. Also paint at least 2-3 coats to get a true reflection of the colour.


Once you have your swatches, try them in different areas of the room and see how they look throughout the day. Remember how the light works in the room and spend a few days seeing how the colour changes.


It is best not to overwhelm the decision making process. So try this with 2 or 3 different paints, instead of 10.


And last, but not least...


Once you have chosen the perfect white paint, it is time to get it on the walls.

Remember, if you are painting over another colour then you should consider priming the area first. The colour underneath will impact the final colour of the white paint, and considering how much time you've spent choosing the perfect white paint, you don't want to ruin it by seeing the blue paint underneath. Even the best quality, thickest of paints, can see how through undertones of other colours, especially when using a white paint.


Until next time...

Kerry x


How can working with an Interior Designer at Hinton House Interiors help?


Still struggling with design decisions? Maybe, you just need a quick room refresh? Or, perhaps you just don't have the time to take it all on?


Hinton House Interiors is here to help. We offer a full design service, including design project management, design and colour consultations and virtual e-design, all services can be found here.


Don't forget to subscribe to our mailing list (on the home page) to get the latest updates.


Residential Interior Designer based in #Southampton, #Hampshire, also covering the UK.

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