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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photography by Adam Crohill