There’s a full spectrum to choose from and a white to suit every taste and application.
The available natural light, decorating style and function of a space all impact on which white works best.
Natural light matters
Colours appear different at certain times of day, depending on which direction the light is coming from.
Interior designer and the LifeStyle Channel’s Selling Houses Australia host Shaynna Blaze, says this is the biggest factor in deciding on which white.
Says Shaynna, ‘You have to know how the light plays in the room to get the right white on the wall.
‘A white that looks great on the tin and going up on the wall can look completely different in strong morning or softer afternoon light.
‘This is when the undertone shows and it can be an unwelcome surprise if it wasn’t tested first.’
Choosing cool whites
The cool end of the spectrum ranges from pure, crisp whites to snow and ice whites. These tones suit ultra-modern interiors, emphasising architectural lines and highlighting open spaces with plenty of daylight.
Called a receding palette, cool whites are the ideal backdrop for artworks and colourful furnishings.
‘If a main feature of your room is an art collection, use the wall as a gallery and choose a cool white with little or no contrasting trim or skirtings,’ says Shaynna. The art itself warms and cosies the space so you can afford to go sharp and crisp on the walls.’
Where it works best
South and east-facing rooms.
Open-plan areas suit green or blue undertones, as they homogenise a big space particularly if it has large windows that invite the outside in.
Nurseries feel surprisingly restful with snowy whites and icy-pale pastels.
Frames and trim stand out more painted in brilliant whites.
Living with warm whites
Creamy and rich, warm whites suggest opulence and intimacy. Suited to traditional colour schemes they work particularly well in older-style homes and those with a more traditional approach to decor.
Warm whites with tan and khaki undertones complement natural materials such as warm timbers and stone. If timber floors are quite dark, steer away from very creamy colours, using a soft white instead.
This palette brings everything in, so choose neutral colour schemes for furnishings and wall treatments.
Where it works best
North and west-facing rooms.
Bedrooms appear soothing and luxurious with creamy white walls, which work well with other white and neutral accessories.
Dining areas come alive with sunny whites, which are considered delicious colours.
Kitchens look less sterile when painted in an ivory shade, particularly if the cabinets are also white.