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living room with freshly painted white walls
Decorating with white will never go out of style. With dozens of white shades on the market, here's a few tips on how to choose the white that's right for you.

Pale and interesting

Pick up a few paint samples and you’ll see there are all shades of white, ranging from icy cool to creamy warm and everything in between. The experts use different ones for different applications – a crisp, cool white may be used to highlight decorative cornices, for instance, while a classic warm white instantly lends a relaxed ambience. “All whites, whether warm, cool or even neutral, will reflect light and create a feeling of space,” says Dulux colour and communications manager Andrea Lucena-Orr. Read on for four key palettes.

freshly painted duo coloured wall

Warm whites

As rich toffee tones replace cool greys as the look of the moment, warm whites offer the perfect backdrop. “Warm whites that create a soft, enveloping effect are fast finding popularity,” says Taubmans chief coloursmith Rachel Lacy. They can create a cosy atmosphere, particularly in rooms that aren’t blessed with loads of sunlight, and are typically favoured in older-style homes. Warm whites have a yellow, orange, pink or red base, which is barely perceptible to the eye but makes all the difference to how a room feels.

Warm whites work well with earthy, organic shades – you'll love warm whites if your furnishings have natural hues and textures. For southern facing rooms, warm whites may help you to soften up a room that doesn't get a lot of sun.

Try: Taubmans Pale Cream, British Paints White Beam, Dulux White Dune Half, Porter’s Paints Irish Linen

a white wall with a fireplace

Cool whites

These have undertones of grey, blue, mauve or green, giving them a crispness perfectly in step with edgy minimalist architecture. “Cooler whites tend to display a more modernist or contemporary feel,” says Andrea. Cool whites are also useful for counteracting yellow tones in spaces awash with natural light. However, pay attention to the ‘temperature’ of artificial lights in your home as these can bring out unwanted undertones in whites. “Cool whites in a room with blue light, for example, can make the space feel cold and unwelcoming,” warns Rachel.

Try: Dulux Lexicon Half, Taubmans Miss Universe, British Paints Infinity White, Dulux Lexicon Quarter

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Pinky whites

The new kid on the design block, pinky whites are slowly cementing their style status. “Pale, earthy neutrals create a warm, comforting space,” says Rachel. Think whites that skew towards pale beige and rose, offering an irresistible cocooning effect that complements warm colour schemes. How do they differ from classic warm whites? “They tend to have stronger, more visible undertones, making them a more saturated white with an earthier, organic feel to them,” explains Rachel, adding they work well teamed with a warm white.

Try: Taubmans Washed Stone, British Paints Lovey, British Paints Soft Pink, Dulux Treeless

bedroom with white walls

Neutral whites

Also known as ‘pure whites’, neutrals are neither cool or warm. “Neutral whites are very versatile,” says Porter’s Paints colour expert Melanie Stevenson. “We call it the ‘perfect white’ because its neutrality makes it team with other colours easily.” A neutral white is also useful if you’re keen to stick to the same paint colour throughout your home, as it should work with whatever light quality and finishes you throw at it. “In sunny rooms go for a neutral white, as the bright light will make a cool white too harsh and a warm white too hot,” suggests Melanie.

Try: Dulux Snowy Mountains Half, Porter’s Paints Popcorn, Taubmans Crisp White, British Paints Snow Peak

Don't forget an undercoat

After you've chosen the white for your room, it's important to give your walls an undercoat first. This will ensure that you get the exact white on your walls that you planned for. An undercoat is especially important if you are going from a darker colour to a white. It will mask the darker coat and also help the new paint stick to the walls more effectively.

Lighting your room

The lights in your home can change the appearance of the paint colour on your walls. LEDs are available in warm white and cool white so make sure that you choose the LED that suits the white you want on your walls.

New to D.I.Y. painting?

To ensure a smooth and long-lasting finish, take a look at our rundown on how to paint. Than check out the full paint and wallpaper range available at your local Bunnings.

Photo Credit: Dulux Australia/Amelia Stanwix, Dulux Australia/Lisa Cohen, British Paints, Porter’s Paints, Dulux Australia/Mark Roper

 

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Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.