Interior Style

How to choose the perfect white paint colour for your home

Article by Homes to Love

Choosing ‘white’ paint is the first step. Finding the ‘right white’ paint is another task altogether. Dulux Colour Expert, Davina Harper talks us through the difference between cool and warm whites to help make your choice a little bit easier

Dulux Okarito. Styling: Bree Leech, Photography: Lisa Cohen

White has long reigned in the interior world, and for good reason. It’s arguably one of the most versatile paint colours. It’s easy to live with, it feels fresh and clean and it goes with almost anything.

But, despite its adaptable nature, the choice for white paint isn’t as foolproof as it seems. Dulux Colour Expert Davina Harper says the most common question she gets asked is “how do I choose a white for my home?”

Deciding ‘white’ is just the first step. Deciding on the ‘right white’ is another task altogether. As soon as you lay eyes on the sheet of white colour swatches, it’s obvious that it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ situation.

Whites can generally be split into two groups; warm whites and cool whites. To help narrow down your choice of white, your first decision should be which undertone (warm or cool) would work best in your home.


Cool whites (top to bottom): Dulux Southern Alps, Dulux Okarito, Dulux Mt Aspiring. Warm Whites (top to bottom): Dulux Cardrona, Dulux Sandfly Point, Dulux Opononi Quarter.

Cool whites

As a general rule, cool whites make a space appear larger, says Davina. Cool whites work best in rooms with an abundance of natural light because cool colours tend to neutralise bright light.


Dulux Okarito on main wall with Dulux Ohai on side wall.

Cool whites, such as Dulux Mt Aspiring and Okarito, are crisp, clean and bright and are called “cool whites” because they have black, grey or blue undertones. Because of this, they suit contemporary, minimalist or Scandinavian styling. Pair them with dark grey flooring, charcoal carpet and colours with similar cool undertones.


Dulux Okarito

Warm whites

In contrast, warm whites have the effect of making a room feel smaller and cosier, which makes them the perfect candidate for rooms that don’t get a lot of sun.


Dulux Sandfly Point

They have brown, yellow or red undertones and are a popular choice if you want to give your room a sunny, friendly, more relaxed feel. Warm whites pair well with wooden floors that also have a red or gold undertone.

“We are really starting to see a move towards more people using warmer whites,” says Davina. “Two of Dulux’s most popular warm whites are Sandfly Point and Cardrona.”


Dulux Cardrona

In a space that doesn’t receive much direct sun; a warm white will help to lighten the room. It will also complement and work with cream or beige carpet or tiling in an older property. Because of its more relaxed, cosy feel, warm whites are often favourites in country-style homes.

Check your lighting

The most important thing to do before deciding on the right white for your walls is to test a generously sized colour swatch on your walls.

Dulux Okarito

A major factor in determining how a colour will look in your home is light as it can dramatically change the tone and look of colour in situ. Use a sample pot to paint an A4 or larger sheet of paper and pin it up to the wall, move it around, test it in corners and at different times of the day to make sure your chosen colour works in all settings.


Order free colour swatches or buy sample pots online at dulux.co.nz. Or head to your local Bunnings or Guthrie Bowron store for sample pots and to pick up a copy of the Dulux Most Loved Whites & Neutrals brochure.


Words by: Bea Taylor

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