5 design tips to choose the perfect white paint

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Jessica Viscarde

Just paint it white, they say! Yes, but what white? When you start investigating neutral colour schemes and white paint options, you quickly realise there is a huge range of white paints on the market. And the variety can be a little intimidating. How do you choose the right white paint for your space?

When making your selection, the key is to choose a white paint that reflects the mood and feeling you are hoping to create within the interior. Think about your current interior style and the preferences for home decor and furniture you tend to choose (or want to choose). Also, what ambience or feeling do you want to evoke within that space?

Generally speaking, white paints are broken down into a cool or warm palette and then lead onto deeper neutrals such as greys or biscuit tones.

Dulux Whisper White

Image courtesy of

Walls Dulux White Exchange and Lexicon ceiling and trim

Image courtesy of

Dulux Natural White has been used in this period home renovation.


Begin with understanding that white paints generally present as cool or warm due to their undertones. Cool whites tend to have a blue or black base and work well in well lit rooms adding a crispness and freshness. Cool white paints work well with contemporary and minimalist interiors with clean lines and less traditional detailing. Cool whites work well if you have a lot of punchy colour going on in your decorating or you are after a more cleaner and sterile effect.

Warm white paints have a yellow, brown or red undertone and tend to add a touch of warmth and cosiness to the space. Warmer whites work well in homes that lack natural light. They add softness and go beautifully with more traditional homes with architectural and classic details. If you are decorating with a warmer furniture and accessory palette including earthier and textual materials a warm white is the ideal paint to compliment.

Dulux Vivid White

Image Courtesy of

“Warmer white paints suit traditional and classic homes, or those lacking ample natural light. Cooler whites suit modern and contemporary interiors and those with abundant light.” 


The abundance or lack of natural light, and your rooms orientation will have an impact on the white paint that you choose. Colours will appear differently at certain parts of the day due to their undertone and the direction of how the light comes in.

What is an undertone? Simply put, an undertone is created as soon as you mix two or more paints together. It is a colour that’s present, but not always obvious depending on the lighting and what other colours are surrounding it. Compare paints against a piece of pure white paper, this will help the undertone appear a little easier.




In Australia, north and north-east facing rooms are the most desirable as they get the most direct sunlight during the day, especially in Winter when the sun is at its lowest. Be mindful if you choose a warmer white here as it could make the room feel hot or the yellow undertones may become quite prominent. Same goes for south facing room, if you opt for a cool white here, it may feel unwelcoming in the Winter months.


Image Credit: Amanda Ayres Interiors - Photography Eclectic Creative

It’s a good idea to order larger brushouts from your paint supplier or purchase test pots to paint on the walls of your space. I recommend painting in a few different areas to test the light throughout the day and evening. Remember natural and artificial light will have different outcomes on the paint and whether you choose warm or cool bulbs.

Try and narrow down your selections to 3 and compare your paint swatches. Are you noticing any unwanted undertones?

BONUS TIP: All whites look white in isolation. It’s not until you compare it against others that you begin to notice the differences. Place your brushout beside an A4 piece of printing paper. Comparing your white against the stark white of the paper will help you recognise any undertones that may be hiding away.


Don’t get overwhelmed by choice. Just focus on the overall outcome and feeling you wish to create with your neutral scheme – warm and cosy or cool and contemporary. Try to think about the furniture and accessories you like to decorate and style with and how those choices will affect the tone of the white paint. Sit with your samples for a while and analyse them under different lighting conditions and at different times of the day.

If you have a larger space try using a qtr or half strength to the wall colour for the trims in a semi-gloss paint (mouldings, architraves and windows) to give you a variation and balanced contrast. Example Lexicon Walls, Lexicon Qtr for the trim and detailing. For a gallery feel paint the cornices and ceiling in the same white, usually a lighter shade that your walls.

Jessica Viscarde

Creative Director, Eclectic Creative

Jess is a qualified Interior designer and currently resides in Melbourne Australia with her boyfriend and black rescue cat, Peggy. Texan born, Jess who grew up in South East Asia and has Italian, Irish and Danish heritage – she believes this culturally diverse upbringing has helped shaped her love for all things eclectic and formed her natural flair and talent for combining styles, colour and pattern. In her spare time, Jess loves gardening and travel, and basically anything to do with cats!

Connect with Jess Instagram: @jess_eclecticcreative

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