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How to decorate with white: Part 1 - choosing the perfect white paint colour.

Part 1: How to pick the right white paint colour for your walls:

An all-white interior is something few people associate our business with, colour experts needed for a white interior? Why? Isn’t a white interior as easy as just buying a tin of untinted, meaning, white paint? Well, it gladdens our colour-crazy hearts to say no, it can be just as tricky - and in our opinion - even more tricky - to get the perfect white for your all-white decor look.


White paint swatches
A collection of white paint colours

What's in a colour? Why is it difficult to choose white paint and have it always look the same? Isn't white, white?

  • Paint is made up of a whole bunch of ingredients, these ingredients can change ever so slightly from batch to batch, and a whole lot from brand to brand. If you choose to simply buy a tin of untinted white paint, it will almost always look slightly different on your walls because of this ingredient shift!

  • Many paint shops don’t keep a record of your previous colour choices and can’t actually check if the colour will be the same as the last tin you bought. Lucky for you, if you are a Paint & Decor client, we keep an actual paint record of every mixed colour you buy from us, even if you buy a shade of white! By using this paint swatch record system, we have a whole history of what colours you choose to keep your colours matching perfectly!

How to know which colour of white paint to choose?

  1. Work with the temperature of your room:

    1. If the natural light in the room is cool/cold - in South Africa, that means if your windows face South, or of course if there is no direct light coming in - try and opt for a warm shade of white. Whites with a creamy undertone, so colours with a hint of orange, red or yellow. The cool light of the room will cancel out the warmth of your paint colour and make it look clean and crisp, not warm. If you want a warm white look in a cool room, choose a very creamy white, a shade or two richer/warmer than you imagine you want because the blue/cool light of your room's natural light will want to cancel out the warmth. To help the room look warmer, you have to beat the blues with ample warmth. Tip: don't go too yellow, rather opt for orange or red undertones in your white colour choice to warm up your space, as too much yellow in the undertone could make your walls look green (the blue/cool light mixed with your yellow-hued white can make green!)

    2. If the natural light in your room is warm, meaning, there is a lot of sun coming in and the windows mostly face North or West, opt for cool shades of white: whites with a grey, blue or green undertone. Once again, the warm light in your room will cancel out the cool undertones of your white paint colour and make it look neutral. If you use a warm shade of white in an already sunny room it will look even more yellow or orange.

    3. Taking both above facts into account, you can now also choose to make a warm room even sunnier by choosing warm whites in this space. Similarly, you can make a cool room even cooler by adding a cold white to the walls.

Paint finish has a great impact on colour:

Always try to buy a sample first of the colour you are thinking of in the actual paint that you will be using. There is a massive difference in colour between shiny and matt paint, make sure you take this into account before buying loads of paint.


To illustrate, these 6 samples are all "white", but each white will create a complete unique look in your room.


These are some quick and easy rules of thumb on how to choose the perfect white for your walls, but as always, if you need some specific advice or help, don’t hesitate to contact our team of colour experts to help you get to the best colour and paint choice. We are here to help you “Live in the colours you love”.

Our article on “How to decorate with white; Part 2” is all about how to add colour and texture to white interiors to complete your white-walled decor scheme.



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