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How to choose the perfect white paint

In theory, choosing the perfect white paint should be easy, right? Surely, white is white. The perfect, go-to neutral that goes with everything. Except when it doesn't.

If you read last week's post on choosing a whole house colour scheme then you'll know that there's more to choosing colours than just whacking a few samples on a wall and picking your fav. And, believe it or not, there is science behind getting the right white too. You only have to head to your local paint store and be confronted by tin after tin of white paint to realise that there are many, many shades of white. "All white', 'James White', 'Wimborne White' 'Loft white', 'Whitening' - the options can seem endless! You'll be both shocked and amazed at just how different white paints can look in different homes and there really is no shortcut to finding the right one. Let me show you how I choose the white paint for my projects... Little Greene China Clay - A warm white with red undertones. First stop, undertones. Understanding undertones will be one of the single biggest things you can do to nail down your perfect white. Start off by asking yourself this question: 'would you like your home to be warm or cool?'. Cool whites are great for modern or minimal spaces, they are great for softening bright light and will give you a feeling of space. Warm whites are perfect for a relaxed feel and can help to soften rooms that don't get a lot of sun. You may also need to look to some of your 'fixed elements' (if you're not starting from total scratch) to guide you with this (If you're not sure what I mean by 'fixed elements' check out last week's post here). Little Greene Linen Wash - A warm white with a yellow undertone You'll want to stick to a warm or cool undertone throughout to give your space a cohesive feel, so if your fixed aspects are warm, you'll want to lean towards a warm white, if your fixed aspects are cool, you'll lean towards a cool white. Warm whites will have a bit of a yellow, orange or red undertone. Cool whites will have a bit of a blue, purple or green undertone. In order to determine the undertones of a white paint, hold a sample up to a plain white piece of printer paper. The undertone will reveal itself immediately! Undertones in white paint will also be amplified by the contents of your room (reflecting onto the walls) and by the type of light a room gets. Little Greene Silent White - A warm white with yellow undertones. Let there be light. Now, because colour is a result of light, it makes sense that the amount and quality of natural light in the room will impact the tone of the walls. Paint can look totally different depending on the room it is in and the type of light it receives. And white is no different. You'll want to consider this lighting whilst choosing your white paint. The aspect of the room you're painting will dictate the type of natural light it receives. South facing rooms tend to have a yellowey, warmer light due to the sun coming in all day and a cooler white may balance out the yellow light. North facing rooms tend to get cooler, blue-grey light and you may prefer a warmer white in these spaces. East and West facing rooms will have either warm or cool lighting depending on the time of day, so technically you could use either warm or cool white paint colours in these rooms. Farrow & Ball Strong White Always test your paint colours in the room. One rule of thumb to always follow when choosing any paint colour is to test the largest sample you can in the room that you're painting. Look at it in natural and artificial lighting and move it around the space to see it at different times of the day and night. Always test before you invest! Well, I hope that has given you a few pointers and you can see why choosing the right white is so important! Getting the perfect white for your home will depend so much on your own space and light and you can now refer back to this to guide you. One last thing - I always recommend buying the highest quality paint you can afford. Higher quality paints (including white) contain more colour particles, leading to a richer and longer-lasting result. It's always worth the investment. Dani x

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