Crown Brilliant White
Crown Brilliant White
Decorating with white paint | A guide to finding the right white paint for your home
Dulux White Chiffon
Dulux White Chiffon
Decorating with white paint | A guide to finding the right white paint for your home
Crown Sail White
Crown Sail White
Decorating with white paint | A guide to finding the right white paint for your home
Dulux Supermatt White
Dulux Supermatt White
Decorating with white paint | A guide to finding the right white paint for your home
Little Greene Slaked Lime
Little Greene Slaked Lime
Decorating with white paint | A guide to finding the right white paint for your home
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The Right White

Author: Lauren Coleman

Some view white as a safe option, but for many it’s the go-to paint colour when decorating a room. White can make rooms appear spacious and bright, but get it wrong and they can feel clinical and stark.

Anyone who has ever looked over a paint chart or two will tell you there’s no such thing as a pure white paint. There are literally hundreds of shades from off-whites to brilliant whites, not to mention the ‘hint of’ hues that were very popular several years ago. I’ve never been the best with a roller and so I leave this to my husband James. Give me a paintbrush for woodwork though and I’m your girl! Here are a few of the colours that we chose to decorate our pad, taking into account the aspect of each of the rooms.

Bright White

Brilliant white has a very slight blue tint to it that can leave a room feeling a bit chilly. It’s best reserved for south-facing spaces with loads of natural sunlight.
We used Crown Brilliant White in our summer house and, thanks to the fact that the room is bathed in light for much of the day, it’s bright and crisp rather than feeling like you’re hanging out in an asylum.

Off White

When I was on the hunt for a neutral for my kitchen I visited a specialist paint store and explained to the man behind the counter that I was looking for a “dirty off-white colour that you’d find in a gastro pub.” It would appear he hadn’t had this type of request before (or perhaps he was just taking a while to decipher my northern accent) and he viewed me suspiciously before handing over a Little Greene Paint Company paint chart. I opted for the Slaked Lime Intelligent Matt that has a very slight sludgy demeanour and really warms up my east-facing kitchen. The choice was made easier as there was also a darker hue in the family that James used to paint the wooden units. The paint has now been on two years and I’ve been pleased with the durability of the matt finish. It’s probably due a few touch ups now but I think that’s acceptable after a couple of years.

Winter White

The lounge has recently been carpeted but when we bought our cottage we inherited a beautiful, yet deathly-cold slate floor. With the strong dark grey tiles, I felt I needed a white with a very slight grey undertone for the walls and set out to find the perfect chalky winter white. Eventually I settled on Sail White Emulsion from Crown. The lounge is multi-aspect and I’d say the room looks a lot cosier in the afternoon sun than in the morning. It’s not stark by any means but definitely looks better in the west-facing part of the room. Farrow & Ball Cornforth White is also a good shout if you’d like a more distinctive greyish white.

Soft White

For the main bedroom we used Dulux Trade Supermatt White paint. There is a brilliant white version but it’s the plain white one you’re after. It has a thick consistency with the main purpose for painting on new plaster, however we used it on previously-painted walls. As the name suggests it’s incredibly matt and dries to an almost powder finish. It’s not particularly hardwearing so not the best for main living areas but absolutely perfect for the bedroom.
For an alternative smooth and creamy white (without any hint of yellow) I’ve been very pleased with Dulux White Chiffon that James used to paint our other west-facing bedroom. It’s very similar to B&Q Antique White that unfortunately proved to be disastrous for us in terms of application; four patchy coats later we plumped for this ivory shade from Dulux that looks fab with pink accents.

Mellow White

I don’t have any snaps of two of the most recently decorated areas in my house but if you’re after a hard-wearing mellow, creamy white (without a yellow tinge) then you could consider Dulux Timeless. This colour has been around for yonks and was apparently one of Dulux’s best selling shades for a while. James has recently used the Endurance version to cover our hall, stairs and landing and I’m loving the results. It’s a dark area with very little natural light but Timeless has warmed it up a treat as the colour seems to reflect the oak doors and skirtings around it.
The man cave has had a lick of paint too. This time a few coats of Farrow & Ball Slipper Satin which has proved a hit in the east-facing room. It’s a classic warm neutral with an almost putty undertone. I’ve read in west-facing spaces it can take on more of a pink note though.

These are my choices when it’s come to decorating with white paints but I’d love to hear about your top picks. Is anyone decorating over the Easter weekend and planning on whipping out the roller? What shade have you gone for?

Take a look at volume two for a 2016 update on finding the right white paint.

{Contributors}

Photography by Adam Crohill

Author

Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman

80 thoughts on “The Right White

  1. ooh this is very helpful. I’m looking to paint my would be office in the new house white. Its a funny shaped smallish room with a north facing window. any suggestions on shade of white (don’t get me started on this sentence alone. Flashbacks of wedding dress shopping “oh no dear this dress is ivory” “love… its all white to me”)

    1. I think many ladies will understand exactly where you’re coming from with the wedding dress comment!
      In north-facing rooms it’s best to avoid anything with a grey or greeny base and go for something more creamy. The Dulux Timeless should work well?

  2. After spending a small fortune on various shades of grey tester pots (I now know all of the Farrow and Ball shades off by heart I swear) I gave up and as an “interim” measure painted the nursery and studio brilliant white by Crown.

    It was dirt cheap and looks AMAZING, even if I do say so myself. I was really worried about it looking stark but it just looks so clean and new and light. Plus is lends itself to making all of the accessories/art work etc really stand out. x

    1. Snap! We have the same colour in the summer house.
      Agree with you there on both the nursery and studio looking fabulous. Cannot wait for Mabel’s nursery reveal next week on this very blog 😉 x

    2. I’ll hit you up for grey advise at a later point then 😀 I’ve been given full permission to paint the master bedroom grey!x

      1. I have had many a grey wall turn suspiciously purple when the light goes down….
        Love, love, love a grey master bedroom x

        1. Ooh grey paint is tricky, it’s either too blue or too pink. My advice paint large tester sections in various parts of the room and look at it in different lights. X

  3. grey going purple… literally my worst nightmare. I’m hoping the boards are in a decent state so I can pull up the carpet. If I could just get you to come down and look at all the rooms and tell me what tone of everything I need that will be most helpful 😀 x

  4. Hi Lauren, strangely my husband and I painted this weekend just gone. Wish I’d had this blog last week!! I did pick up a tester of timeless and I’m going to do our hall and landing in that but for our living room dining room and conservatory we went for cotton white by dulux. The once stuff. Although really it takes 2 coats it’s better than the 4 costs we normally do. I was a bit worried at first it was a bit too bright but once on and the furniture in it looks amazing, crisp, fresh Whilst maintaining a cottage feel. Antique white actually looks grey so I didn’t go for that. So this weekend we’re on the hunt for long grey curtains and some lights. Any ideas?!?!?! Xxx

    1. Hello Lisa!
      Just having a quick peek on the Dulux site and Cotton White looks lovely – really soft.
      Lights are such a pain in the bum aren’t they? It took be months to find our new landing light. There’s so much choice! What kind of style are you after? x

      1. Think I’m going for an industrial type but still in keeping with log burner etc. I found one that should have arrived today so see how it goes!! Xx

  5. This is great, I have to say I’m loving all the white hues in this post, particularly the Slaked Lime.

    I recently purchased an old wooden sideboard to bring back to life and quickly realised how many shades of Farrow and Ball white, cream and putty there are! In the end I settled with shades that I liked the names of. You can’t go wrong with a “Strong White”!

    1. Too true Lucy! My husband always wants to paint things ‘F&B James White’ because unsurprisingly he thinks that’s a great name for a paint!

      1. I have to say I’m rather disappointed that I don’t have a paint named after me (just checked the website). I can’t say I blame him!

  6. I’ve never loved white as much as when we finished the third coat in our hallway after a major bright yellow mistake. It’s unbelievable how much more light gets reflected into the room. Definitely agree white is just the perfect canvas to make accessories really stand out so now seriously considering painting our main door a really bright colour.

    When it comes to greys Dulux Polished Pebble is a really nice soft grey with a little bit of blue hint to it but no sign of purple.

  7. We’ve done our skirting boards and doors and all woodwork dulux timeless in eggshell. Oh and ceilings and is a nice white as whites go. Though I am totally a grey girl. Farrow and Ball Hardwick White is a nice greeny grey that we’ve used in our extension. But if you are brave then go with Down Pipe. I think we’re going to do our sitting room in that one with some purple and mustard accessories. If Down Pipe is too dark then Plummett is very similar but lighter. I would love to be braver and do Railings but a bit scared of it looking funereal!

    1. I’ve actually got a tin of Railings earmarked for the front door! Though plan to keep the internal bit oak. Keep changing my mind between having chrome or brass fittings though.
      Big fan of all your choices there Victoria x

  8. I’m painting this weekend. Was debating between cornforth white and downpipe and think we are going to take the plunge and go for downpipe, it’s so dark though I am a little scared…

  9. Great post! I always struggle with paint, always looks great on the test patch but then can look so different once it’s up on the walls! Do you use a slightly contrasting paint on the woodwork or ceilings and if so, how do you choose the shade?

    1. I always opt for satinwood in white rather than a gloss. I love really contrasting woodwork too though in bold dramatic dark shades.

  10. I’m a huge fan of the Dulux light and space range – we have the white on nearly all the walls of our apartment and it really opens up the space but never feels clinical. We also used the Jasmine Shimmer which is a pale blush. Again we really love it and have been very impressed with how it’s held up over time.

    1. Hi Anna, I’ve never used Light and Space. I must give it the range a whirl because I’ve heard good things. Love the sound of Jasmine Shimmer, it sounds very chic x

  11. I’ve actually just been having the debate of why can’t they just get one shade of paint as not only is there a plethora of shades but also multiple brands. I actually had a full on melt down last weekend about choosing the grey for my bedroom. My husband doesn’t understand! I settled on dulux pebble shore which is lovely. The rest of the house is various shades of white. Pure brilliant in the hall as it’s just easy to touch up, milk white in the nursery and apart from a shell pink in my little girls room everywhere else is dulux almond white. After being recommended f and b slipper satin by mum I did a comparison and in my house they looked exactly the same so I saved myself a fortune and got good old dulux on 2 for 1! Bargain! X

    1. Charlotte, my Dad is a Decorator and regularly recommends Almond White.
      I bet the bedroom looks gorgeous in Pebble Shore x

  12. I’m a huge fan of Crown Sail White, as it is perfect for a southfacing room where brilliant white would be a bit blinding. It gives the same clean white look but without the migraine.
    BUT having bought all my emulsion and painted my walls, I discover they have discontinued Sail white in Satin or gloss, so now don’t know what to paint my woodwork.
    Any Ideas? Ideally I want a white that is very similar to Sail White.

  13. Hoping someone’s still looking at this and might help!

    Am facing the dilemma of wanting to decorate the whole of our ground floor in the same colour, so incorporating a kitchen/dining space, north east facing with lots of light (big window in kitchen and 3m wide bi-folds in the dining area), then also a living room which faces S/SW with floor to ceiling windows, and relatively large entrance hall area – S/SW facing but no windows, just a front door with some stained glass in it.

    Am I likely to be able to find a fresh-looking white or off-white to suit the whole area that won’t look dodgy in certain areas at certain times of day? I should mention that the kitchen units will be pale grey and worktops white….

    I know I really need to investigate and do lots of testers and monitor over time but full-time work and small kids mean that more than likely it will be a last minute snap decision based on internet colour charts – not good!!!!

    I would be eternally grateful for anyone’s interior know-how/advice……

    1. I’ll have a think Anna. Perhaps something more down the ‘winter white’ route (like Sail White) that will look beautiful with your pale grey units?

      1. Thanks, am reading this while in the Homebase tester aisle! I’ve been here some time…… They don’t seem to have Sail White though, dammit!

        I also need to bear in mind the floor choice too, which is a pale wood, sort of whitewashed oak….

  14. Can I just say – I totally went on a bit of a whim and took your advice for the Chiffon White, and our living room now looks fabulous! It’s even converted my husband who hates all things white or cream. But the room looks so much bigger now, and as it’s not a particularly light room, it’s great at opening the space up – all without looking too ‘white’. It’s definitely a nice warm colour! So THANK YOU Rock My Style 🙂 xx

    1. Thanks so much for letting us know Claire! So glad to hear it’s a winner all round too 🙂 x

  15. I’m in the process of having our place decorated and mistakenly thought it would be a doddle to find a neutral off-white in the Dulux range which I was hoping to paint the whole house with. How wrong I was! The painters have tried White Mist for me – too stark – so now they’ve tried Jasmine White for me in a bedroom – too yellow. I’m driving myself mad as nothing comes up like the testers!

    I’m going to beg them to try another shade today as a last chance saloon so. I’m looking for an off-white that is not yellowy, or pinky or too cold that I can run throughout the whole house. I’ve been reading a lot about Timeless. Do you think this fits the bill?

    1. Hi Anita,
      I’d really say Timeless is worth a shot. It’s definitely not pinky or cold, and is much softer than Jasmine White. Let us know how you get on x

  16. Hi Lauren

    After buying pretty much all of the white/cream based testers in dulux. I am still struggling on what colour. ideally I wanted a very very light grey .. Each time put on walls they turn a browny sickly colour. Have to opt for more white shades.. I am undecided on dulux timeless / morning light ./ white chiffon perhaps crown soft linen..? What would you suggest . Then do I go for for brilliant white or white for my doors window and skirting boards. My bedroom gets little light and pretty shady. But I defo want to create warmth and winter coziness in it.. Any suggestions would be just wonderful . Thank you so much
    Amy x

  17. Hi Lauren .. It’s amy once again.. I have just re read your blog and I was was wandering if you thought that crown sail white would work??.. Is it an off white / grey?.. Thank you
    Amy

    1. Hi Amy!
      With your light, Sail White would most probably take on a very, very light grey appearance. Have you tried Dulux dusted moss or F&B Cornforth white if you’d like something more a bit more grey? Let me know how you get on! x

      1. Hi Lauren
        Just want to thank you so much for all of your help. Sail white is on the rooms with brilliant white satinwood for woodwork. It’s perfect just perfect … Thank you once again …
        Amy xx

    2. Hi Amy, I used this thread when I was trying to find the right white for my kitchen and it was really helpful. In the end I went for Crown Sail White, and have actually used it throughout the house…. It’s by far the nicest white I found, and no yellow at all – in the north facing parts of the house it has a very slight greyish tone… would definitely recommend!

      1. Hi Anna .. Thankyou! .. Sounds great .. Do I use brilliant white or what colour would you recommend for ceiling window and door . Or do I paint ceiling in sail white maybe? .. Sorry for so many questions .. My bedroom is a very shadowy small room with little light .. Defo not keen on yellowy tones! .. As long as I can create a cozy / warm effect bedroom ..
        Thank you
        Amy

  18. Hi Lauren ..
    Am afraid my budget does not stretch to F & B! Wish it did!!… Have just seen dusted moss on the dulux website.. Looks just lovely but rather grey I fear ..only because my walls are shadowy… The ones I listed above don’t actually appear brown etc on the walls! Hence have to go more whiter..I would preferred like Egyptian cotton… But that can’t be!…. I naturally would like my bedroom to feel warm/ light and cozy. But totally stuck on the right white shades!…for my small bedroom walls ..
    Amy x

  19. If I were to choose either dulux timeless/ white chiffon or morning light… Which would be softer do you think?Is it it better to use brilliant white / white or like a milk white for door window and skirting boards. My idea is to have a light colour carpet with soft grey bedroom accessories ..
    Thank you for all of your help Amy

    1. Hi Amy,
      I’m not too familiar with Morning Light but I’d say it was looks quite yellowy. Timeless is probably more an off-white and white chiffon is a bit crisper. Out of the two I’d say white chiffon with white woodwork if you want to add grey accessories. Good luck!

      1. Hi .. Have just bought tester of crown white sail .. I love it! Thank you!! .. Would really appreciate your suggestion re. Ceiling and woodwork . Shall I opt for brilliant white? .. Or a different white .. And because I live in an old house what finish would you suggest for door / window etc .. Thank you

        Amy

  20. Hi Lauren… Really appreciate your ever so helpful advice…. Rather overwhelmed by the amount of choice for just the colour white!!…. Just one other thing…. Would I use brilliant white or white gloss on wood work… Door/ window/ ceiling/ and skirting boards…. Re. Timeless or white chiffon which one would you say is warmer?…

    Once again thank you..
    Amy

    1. Hi Amy, I’m going to have to start charging you soon 😉
      Glad you love the sail white. It’s one of my favourites too.
      Brilliant white is always the easiest to track down for woodwork and I always prefer a satinwood finish to a gloss but that’s just my personal preference.
      On the timeless/white chiffon question I’d say it really depends on the look you want – both are warm and classic but timeless is more off-white and white chiffon is more ivory.
      Hope this helps x

  21. Hi reading through all these comments. Just had an extension done all open plan with kitchen. Want a dark grey feature wall like urban obsession, having a dark grey carpet. Wondering what colour to put with it. Dulux recommend natural calico as a neutral but had my house in this a while. Would timeless do the job. It has to blend in with an oak kitchen and dark anthracite units. White is too stark. It I thought an off white would be nice. Hate magnolia colours like yellow and pink tones. What do you suggest? Would appreciate it. Also for a downstairs toilet, wanted a darkish grey. I’ve looked at loads of greys, what do you suggest to. to be too cold. Warm pewter, deep fossil, chic shadow??? Loads of questions

  22. Hi Lauren!

    I was hoping to get some help! I’m newly renovating my help and am really stuck on finding the most ideal white paint for my walls. I have a large windows facing the east in the living room but the rest of the house won’t be getting as much natural light. One of the bedroom windows is also facing east but they are small windows and the other bedroom window is facing south and also small. Kitchen window is facing west. I’m going for a light bright scandi inspired interior so I would love your opinion on the perfect white that isn’t too warm to match the look. Any help would be so appreciated!  Thank you!!

  23. I guess I’m in a similar situation as the previous comment. My apartment is a typical sort of “long and narrow” style layout in Japan: bedroom faces East/Southeast with lots of natural light; kitchen/dining area is in the middle (with one tiny window above the sink); and then a small window on the far wall near the bathroom, facing West, which allows a little light to trickle into the kitchen.

    The coat I just put on recently throughout the whole apartment (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom) is on the warmer side, which I thought would be good to balance the dark kitchen cave. The test looked good in natural light, but once the sun went down it started to show a really strong pink hue. It feels like I’m in a hospital!

    I’m wondering what kind of white would be good to use throughout the whole space– considering the differences in natural light from bedroom to kitchen/bath. Any advice would be wonderful!

    Feeling lost in Japan, please help if you can…

  24. Hiya! In the process of picking colours (or trying to) for our living room, one accent wall and the others a lighter colour. We are in a top floor east facing apartment with 1 large window/balcony doors for natural light. Me and the Hubby love the grey look but the testers I have bought (too many) mainly dulux are maybe just a tad too cool? I’m concerned it will look cold? :-/
    I had narrowed it down to polished pebble or chic shadow for the accent wall, but I have now come across Elephants Breath by Farrow and Ball. Which I love! It’s grey ish but in certain lights it’s got this really pale lilac tone to it which for me warms the shade of grey colour 🙂 I’m now however stuck on what colour to do the other walls! I’ve tested white cotton and chiffon white by dulux and I’m swaying towards chiffon white as its bright but still warm. We have got coving being painted white the same as the ceiling which I thought would stand out a bit more against the warmer tones. Does this make sense? I’ve never decorated before hence the babbling! Am I over thinking this lol?? Does anyone have any advice? Thankyou x

  25. Hi
    I’m considering Slaked Lime for my west-facing bathroom. Did you also paint it on the ceiling of your kitchen? It looks great from the photo but I wondered whether you were pleased with it? I live in a tudor house but am trying to decorate with a more modern feel while trying to be sympathetic to the house – it’s a challenge! The bathroom ceiling slopes on one wall so I want a neutral that will work on the walls and the ceiling and won’t fight with the other features (50s style crittal window, old cast-iron bath and even older oak beams on one wall) which I’m also thinking of painting a charcoal grey (window frame and bath – not the beams!). Anyway, I’d appreciate any advice on matching or not matching ceilings to walls in general and when it comes to slaked lime in particular.
    Thanks!

  26. OMG love your blog- and stumbled across this article while googling white paint advice! pls help! decorating my longish rectangle lounge and dining area – dining area has patio doors and is east facing and lounge window (will dress with white venetian blinds i think) rather small and west facing.

    The room itself can be dark. i am getting a mid grey carpet with glass lighting and glass top dining table to maximise the light. simply cannot decide on a white for the walls – we were going to have a feature wall in lounge in a textured light grey – but have parked that for now so we can see how the white sits on all walls in the whole area. Which dulux or crown white would you recommend? – don’t want the room to feel cold, but still like white as want it to set off the grey carpet and sofa. accessories to be silver, metallic shimmer rug, cosy throws etc. thanks for your time!

    1. Hi Sam…i know you posted this THREE years ago!!! but your lounge sounds vey similar to mine. DO you remember what you used in the end, and were you happy with it?
      Thank you!

  27. Hi just came across this grt site, any ideas what to put with egyptian cotton in our kitchen? Just want a couple of walls with some contrast. Have tried olive in flux but too dark! Thanks

  28. I was just planning to change the paint of my sitting room and came across this timeless. Got some rare ideas here . Going to consider. Thank you for sharing some useful ideas.

  29. Hi there, I’m decorating my small north facing bedroom & would like a pinky colour that will be bright & warm but not something that will make the room any smaller. I want to avoid anything with lilic undertones, any idea’s Help please

  30. Thank you SO much for this article!! Sail White match pot has convinced me! Kitchen to paint tomorrow!:)

  31. Hi, just used Sail White in my lounge and it looks lovely with the white woodwork and white ceilings. Thanks for the tip !

    Painting kitchen units in Little Greene Shirting with an off white quartz worktop (very slight hint of grey to it). Any ideas for a white/off white kitchen paint for the walls ? I wish there was a kitchen version of Sail White !

  32. Not sure if this link is still open for comments but need some help!
    Finally settled on Hague Blue F&B for a North facing, dim lit dining room….but I want the perfect white to set it off! ( is there such a thing.) any advice??

  33. Love, Love, LOVE!! this blog.. thank you so much to all you lovely ladies for the help with the white paint tips, I’ve been stressing out for weeks and had many sleepless nights over choosing paint etc for our new home and was so scared of buying a ‘too yellow’ cream paint, or a ‘too white’ paint.. i have finally opted for the Dulux White Cotton! Hopefully it will feel cottage/country’ish! Thank you all, will be coming back to check up for new ideas 😉 Ffion – (Anglesey) Xxx

  34. hi I’ve got a brand new kitchen. White shaker cupboards, oak floor and worktop. This will lead into a sunroom which is being done next year. I would like the colours to flow through as is the flooring. Which off white colour would you say would work well with white. It’s a west facing room so gets the sun in the afternoon and evening. Thanks

  35. Hi,
    Hoping you can help me. I have a bathroom which is in the roof/attic area of our house. There are two skylights but it is very dark and small.
    We are wanting to paint the wooden floors white and then pick up a warning white on the walls, woodwork and ceiling. You mention timeless. If I used this in on the walls etc, what would you suggest on the floors? Is there a particular process for painting a wooden floor? Do you require a top coat to protect it? Appreciate any direction on how to tranfer this space into a warm neutral bathroom.

    Many thanks, Sarah

  36. Hi Ladies,

    I see the last post on this page is from 2015 the year is now 2016 and I am in desperate need of help. I need to find the perefect white for my west facing tiny semi circled shape living room. I have two small windows and a double back door, I want a light and airy feel but nothing too stark (I have used valspar white with glitter in my bedroom). My sofa is light grey and I just bought white washed laminate. PLEASE PLEASE HELLPPP!!!, THIS IS DRIVING ME INSANE

  37. Hi, Can you tell me where you bought the very thin shelves your picture frames are sat on please? As for the white and grey shades you have all written about, I cannot wait to try them. Thank you!

  38. Hi there

    Have been trawling the internet for ages trying to find the perfect off white (non yellow), to go with grey kitchen cabinets in a north facing room, after reading all your comments do you think sail white would work?

    Any colour does seem to appear much deeper on one end of the room.. but not the other!!

    Thanks!

  39. Hello I’ve just recently painted my west facing bedroom with dulux timeless and what can I paint the doors,skirting with please as pure brilliant white satin is to bright! My bedding is ofwhite/taupe. Thank you x

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