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How To Choose The Right White Paint

How to choose the right white paint

Image Credit: Benjamin Edwards

If I was to say there was just one colour you could choose that would be an instant freshness booster, a calm creator, warm and welcoming one moment, lively and uplifting the next, you'd perhaps think I'd lost my mind.

But it's true friends, and the magical colour? White.

Anyone that has tired to find themselves a white paint in recent years will have realised there's a little more to white that meets the eye. But it's doesn't need to be complicated.

Today, there are hundreds of shades of white paint available, but the crucial component to understanding the undertone, the rooms lighting and what mood you'd like to create.

Depending on the lighting in your home (both natural and artificial) and other colours in your room, your white wall well, it may not even look like white at all. #OpticaIillusion

Here's the #WhiteIsNeverReallyWhite lowdown and how you can select the perfect choice for your home.

How to choose the right white paint

Image Credit: Julia Robbs

It’s not necessary to use the same white paint throughout your home.

A white paint colour will look different in each room of your home because the lighting in the room will have an effect on the colour.

You can choose warm white paint or cool white paint, depending on the mood you wish to create. For example, if you want the bedroom to have a cosier, warm and relaxed look and feel, you could choose a softer, warmer white. If you want your kitchen to be bright and lively, choose a brighter white with cool undertones.

How to choose the right white paint

Image Credit: Studio McGee

White picks up other colours in your room.

White paint is never a pure white at all, it’s a very light version of other colours. That’s why sometimes you may look at white on your wall and feel as if it has a hint of another colour.

White is the palest shade of a colour, so a hint of the undertone often shows through. When you choose a white to match the colours in your room, the undertone will be even more noticable.

When you choose a white with the undertone colour in mind, you can create a beautiful, cohesive space.

How can you know what the undertone of a white is on a paint swatch? Look at the deepest colour at one end of the swatch. The darkest shade will often reveal the undertone. Some whites have a purple, yellow, blue or grey undertone.

Take a look at these examples:

How to choose the right white paint - Undertones

Lighting in your room

Colours are affected by light, so it’s important to choose your white paint colour based on the room you are painting. You’ll see that a white paint will look quite different from one room to another as it will change due to the light in the room, the direction the window faces as well as the time of day.


Does your room face north, south, east or west? This will affect the way the light enters and is reflected in the room.



A room that faces north has very little natural light. The natural light that shines in will have a cool blue hue and will enhance white paint that has cool undertones such as grey, blue or purple. If you want to add some warmth to rooms with northern exposure, you can counteract the blue hue with warm white paints colours.

Warm White paints we love:

How to choose the right white paint - Warm White Paints


Southern exposure rooms have the most intense light and have a natural warm hue with the direct light coming in.

A room with southern exposure and lots of direct light will have a warm hue and will enhance white paint that has warm undertones such as yellow, red or orange.

If you want to counteract that warmth, choose a cool white paint that has a blue/grey undertone. Cool white paints with a blue undertone will absorb the red in warm natural light.

Cool White paints we love:

How to choose the right white paint - Cool White Paints


East facing rooms are warm in the morning and cool in the late afternoon.


West facing rooms are the opposite with cool light in the morning and warmer light in the afternoon.


As East and West facing rooms have both cool and warm light shining in, you will notice that your room may look different at various times of the day. If you want a Neutral White paint colour, here are a few suggestions for paint that will enhance both cool and warm colours.

Neutral White paints we love:

How to choose the right white paint - Pure White Paints
How to choose the right white paint

Image Credit: Farrow & Ball

How to choose the right white paint

Image Credit: Paul Massey

These are just a few suggestions on choosing white paint. I hope it helps take a bit of the guesswork out of selecting the best white paint colours for your home.

If you found this a bit too overwhelming, stick with the Neutral Whites we mentioned.

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Have a gorgeous week!

Natalie 2020

Natalie Gisborne

Founder at HomeEnvy Members Club

Want tailored interior design support?  Join our fun, creative free community HomeEnvy Homies, full of interiors goodies, support from designers, #InspoOverload to help you design your dream home much more easily!

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How to choose the right white paint


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