How to know which off-white paint you should use – depending on the light

You might think that painting a room white is one of the simplest decorating decisions you can make.

That is until you walk into the white paint aisle at your local hardware shop and are completely overwhelmed by an avalanche of options.

From Arctic Snow to Soft Feathers, Summer Clouds to Crisp Parchment, choosing the right white for your space can actually be a lot more complicated than you first think.

With endless variations in shade and tone, ranging from a clinicial, brilliant white, to tones that are almost grey, or even yellowy, how do you choose the right one for your space. And you might even need different off-whites for different rooms in your house.

With seemingly endless options, it can be difficult to know just which white will best suit the space. Thankfully, there is one major factor that will make this choice a lot simpler: the light aspect of the room.

The best white paint for your walls depends on whether you prefer warm or cool tones, and the light of the room you’re painting. The first thing to note it whether the windows face north, south, east or west.

Cool whites are generally recommended for south-facing rooms. These tones contain hints of blue, green, or black. Warm white paints are better for darker north-facing rooms, and they have red or yellow undertones.

The undertones of the white that you choose are so important because they are amplified by the type of natural light a room gets, and can even be affected by the furniture and placement of the objects in a room which can reflect onto the walls and change the look of the paint.

‘Depending on the amount and type of natural light the specific room gets, you’ll want to choose a white that brings balance to the space,’ says Tobie Lewis, senior brand manager at Valspar Paint.

‘For darker, north-facing rooms, you may want to select a white paint with warmer, yellow undertones – which will help offset the coolness.

‘Conversely, for those sun-drenched south-facing rooms, you may wish to balance out the warmth with hints of blue or even black. You want to opt for a cool white option for toning down warm rays.’

The best warm whites for north-facing rooms

Valspar, Coronation Gown

Little Green, Hollyhock

Crown, Sail White

The best cool whites for south-facing rooms

Wickes, Almost White

Farrow & Ball, Strong White

Valspar, Torque

Farrow & Ball, Wevet

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