10 foolproof tips for painting a room in white 

Here are some tips to keep in mind when painting with with this popular hue

Words Orna O’Reilly Weber

There are few better ways to brighten up a room than painting it white. It provides a beautiful backdrop to show furniture and fabrics at their best. It lends itself to many different styles, brings light to dark spaces, makes the room feel more spacious and creates a fresh and airy atmosphere.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when painting a room with with this popular hue:

  • Don’t think of white as a non-colour. You will find that it has many variations, from warm to cool and in between. All good paint companies have a vast range of shades of white with different undertones.
  • Is the room warm or cool? Does it flood with light or is it a rather gloomy space? Remember that warmer whites will provide a cosier feel, so if the room needs warming up, pick a white with a touch of yellow pigment. If you want the room to be cool and calm, go for one with a greyish tinge. White with a touch of grey can sometimes look a little cold but if used correctly, it will give a crisp and clean appearance to show off accessories and artwork.
  • The most successful colour schemes have contrast; otherwise a room can look bland and boring. Whether the contrast is created with paintings, interesting furniture or strong colours on soft furnishings is up to the individual.
  • If choosing to keep the colour scheme monochromatic, it will be important to add texture to provide contrast. This can be in the form of interestingly textured fabrics in neutral colours and, perhaps, some reflective surfaces like glass or chrome.
  • If deciding to include a colourful fabric, check paint swatches carefully against it to see which shade of white shows it to its best advantage. For example, if your dream fabric that you intend to use for your curtains or upholstery is green: just pick out a white with a slight green tinge, which will show the fabric at its best. Just make absolutely sure that it is the same tone of green as the fabric. No guessing is allowed!

‘One of the great advantages of painting your walls white is that you will have a clean palette on which to create whatever colour scheme your heart desires’

  • White is great for displaying paintings or objets d’art. You will notice that white is a common colour choice for many art galleries and museums, as it shows up their collections with complete clarity.
  • Dark colours will absorb light, making a room look smaller, while brighter colours will create a more spacious and inviting space. So, if you want to make your room appear larger, use white.
  • If painting a large space, there is the option to vary the tone of your chosen white paint slightly as you move from area to area. This will give subtle depth and inject interest into what might become a boringly large expanse of white.
  • It is better to use a matt paint rather than a reflective gloss that, although often used in a bathroom to excellent effect, will show condensation. Also, it is important to note that unless plasterwork is absolutely perfect, gloss paintwork will show up every flaw when the light shines on it. If concerned about fingerprints, there are many matt paints that are wipeable.
  • Remember that one of the great advantages of painting your walls white is that you will have a clean palette on which to create whatever colour scheme your heart desires.
Purple flowers and white bird cages on furniture with walls all painted white

Orna O’Reilly Weber has extensive experience in interior design and home renovation, and is author of Renovate & Redecorate Without Breaking a Nail, available on Amazon.

  • ‘10 foolproof tips for painting a room in white’ is published in Anthology Volume 13. Read more features from this volume or buy it now.
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