How to choose the right white for your home

There are so many shades of white available these days. It’s no wonder we get stressed out about which one is best for our home, and we can’t work out how to choose the right white.

You have cool whites and warm whites. There are blue-based, yellow-based, green-based, red-based, grey-based, and on and on.

Confused yet???

Let’s simplify it to help you decipher which white is right for your home. 

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All about white and the right white for your home

Most whites aren’t pure white. They are colours tinted with a lot of white, so they become a very pale version of the colour, to the point where you cannot see the underlying colour just by looking at it.

This is why whites can be so tricky to get right.  The undertone of the white can show up at any time. If you don’t know what colour the undertone is, you can get a nasty surprise when your white paint looks pink or dirty or mismatched with the other colours in your room.

The best way to find the base colour is to compare different whites or hold your sample against a plain white sheet of paper.  You can usually see the undertone coming through.

warm whites and cool whites

Warm whites and cool whites

The feeling you want to create in your room will help guide you in which white is right for your space and, whether a warm or a cool white is best.

Warm whites are calming and soothing, whereas cool whites make you feel more lively and awake.

Cool whites work well in contemporary spaces and pair with black, greys, cool blues and glossy surfaces.

Examples of Cool Whites are Dulux Lexicon, Dulux White on White Dulux Casper White, Haymes Greyology 1 and Classic Grey 1

Warm whites can work in both traditional and contemporary spaces.  They will create a cosy and welcoming feeling when combined with timber and textured finishes.

Warm whites include Dulux Natural White, Dulux Whisper White, Dulux White Polar, Haymes Inviting Breeze and Haymes Soft White.

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How lighting affects white

Lighting can dramatically affect how your colours look and whether a particular shade of white will work in a home or not.

Morning light is soft and blueish, and colours will look cooler and duller in this light.

The afternoon light is warmer and yellower, so colours will appear warmer and brighter.

North light is the most neutral because it is neither too blue nor too yellow.

Rooms with north-facing windows can tolerate both warm and cool whites. It will depend on the feeling you want in the room and the amount of direct sunlight it receives.

For a contemporary look in a bright room with direct sunlight, select a cool white with more grey in it. Otherwise, you will find the colour polarising.

Choose a warm white that will absorb some of the direct light and create a warm and cozy feel for a softer look.

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South-facing rooms have much cooler, bluer light and generally benefit from a warmer white. Even a warm white will look colder in southern light than in northern light.

Choose a much warmer white than you would choose for a north-facing room to cosy up a room with south-facing windows.

East-facing rooms get morning sun and are duller in the afternoon.  The temperature of the white you use should be determined by when you use the space the most.

The same goes for west-facing rooms.  The morning is very dull, and the afternoon light has a rosy glow.  If you use this room in the afternoon you could opt for a warm white and enhance that beautiful afternoon glow or cool the room off with a fresh white.

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Using one shade of white throughout the whole house.

Because of the nature of colour and the effect light has on it, one shade of white throughout your whole house may not work. 

It depends on how much light each room gets when you use the space the most and the feeling you want each room to have.

Using your chosen colour’s half-strength may be all you need in certain rooms. In other rooms, you may need to use a double-strength or a different shade of white to get the same look throughout.

Always test your colour in every room to ensure you like how it looks and feels.

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So here are the main takeaways:

  • Determine the feeling you want to create in each space
  • Decide on a cool or warm palette to suit 
  • Compare colours to determine their undertone
  • Take into account the lighting conditions in each room
  • Make sure you always test your colours with sample pots before committing to them


I hope this has given you more confidence in choosing the best white for your home.

Until next time.


Happy decorating,

Trudi. x


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