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How to Choose the Perfect White Paint

It seems an obvious choice to many, to simply paint their interior walls white. Painting walls white is a blank canvas upon which you can craft your interior, white can brighten dark spaces and make even the smallest room feel spacious. However, if the wrong white is chosen, white can make a room feel cold, unwelcoming and perhaps even clinical.

Then you start looking at all the different whites that are available in the colour charts… and there is a seemingly limitless spectrum of white shades all with slight variations.

Who would have guessed that choosing a white for your walls could be such a complexing decision? ‘Just paint it white’, is often suggested. But, with so many different white shades to choose from, how can you find the perfect white hue for you and your interior?

Holman Specialist Paints are here to help you to find the perfect white for your interior walls. Follow our 5 simple steps to finding the perfect white for your interior.

1. Discover the undertones in white shades

Very rarely is a white just a plain white – with no other colour influences. Most whites have other variations of shade which influence the colour.
For example: For a crisp, modern and cool shade, choose a white with blue or green undertones. Or, for a warmer, creamy hue, choose a white with yellow or orange undertones. Decide whether you are looking for a warm and cosy interior space, or a cooler more modern design. By determining this, you can begin narrowing down your selection of white shades.

2. Choose a shade that works with other items in the room

Not only do you need to consider the shades in the white, but also consider what colour themes you have (or will have) in the room which you are painting. Pick a paint that works with what you’ve got, as your furnishings will affect your perception of any paint. Let’s put this in context: If you have brighter bold coloured furnishings – try using a cooler more neutral white shade. Or, if you have a more neutral furnishing palette (think Scandi chic) try using a warmer white shade to harmonise the interior.

3. Acknowledge the effect of light

Our perception of colour is all based on light. So, when choosing a white shade take note of the colour at different times of day, like in sunlight, natural light, evening and artificial light. Our perception of colour can change with different lights, a colour you love in the morning may look a completely different shade by the time evening rolls around. You can work with the light level of your interior space, to find the perfect white paint hue. For instance, if your room gets loads of natural light, work with this by choosing a cooler white shade. Choosing a warm shade when bathed in sunlight can really bring out the yellows and can make the paint colour look more cream than white.

4. Consider the paint sheen level

Choosing the right sheen level can also affect your perception of a white paint shade. The more matt the finish of your paint, the more light will be absorbed. Conversely, the more sheen the paint has like a satin, soft-sheen or eggshell, this will reflect light more. Furthermore, as with any painted finish, consider what kind of environment you are looking to paint. Ensure that for higher-traffic environments, like hallways or kitchens that you choose a more durable paint finish. Very flat matt finishes have a tendency to show up scuffs and marks more and if you do have a soft-sheen this will be easier to wipe down. We highly recommend Tikkurila Feelings Interior, a highly durable matt finish for interior walls. Feelings Interior is wash and scrub resistant.

5. Test your chosen paint colour

Found a white shade that you like? Always try at home, and in several places on the walls. If you don’t want to paint your sample on the wall itself, paint a large swatch on a piece of plain card instead. This will create a movable sample that you can relocate to different walls. Remember to view your test samples at different times of day – to see how/if the colour changes with different lights.

Common white paint colour descriptions

Bright White

You can often see ‘bright white’ paint advertised and sold in your local DIY store. Also known as a ‘brilliant white’. Bright White often has a special additive included which gives the paint an almost iridescent effect. With hints of blue undertones, bright white shades are cool hues that can affect the aesthetic warmth of an interior space. Creates a crisp, white, modern finish.


Snow-White shades are a bit warmer than the often seen ‘Bright White’ and can complement a clean contemporary interior. Great for use on walls as well as painted objects such as kitchen cabinetry or furniture.


It’s hard to pin down exactly what is meant by the shade ‘off-white’ as this can suggest many different shades to different people. Suggestions for this shade include a ‘dirty white’ with elements of yellow or grey hues.


A warm white shade is leaning to the creamier hues of the white colour scale with consistent undertones of yellows, reds and oranges. Often goes well with a more neutral interior where a cosy, warm, and welcoming atmosphere is to be created.

Antique White

Antique Whites are very traditional shades, and can be made to work in many home living spaces. With rich shaded undertones that emphasise creams and browns that instantly create a warm lived-in feeling. Be wary when using an antique white in a small space, as this shade can make a small room feel smaller.

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