ask the experts4 min read

Colour explained: everything you need to know about white paint

WordsFrankie Marqueé

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The ultimate neutral, white is one of those colours that goes with everything. At Lick, we have a total of ten white paints making up our edit, each with their own unique character, warmth and style. Here’s how to get clued up on your undertones, learn what white best suits a north, east, south and west-facing room, and how to find your dream white for your space.

Let's talk undertones

Undertones are what will change up the temperature of a colour. At Lick, we use five for our whites, and you can expect them to do a little something like this to your room: 

  • Grey: in the paint industry adding grey is actually called adding a tone, so you can imagine the impact that it has on every colour. This undertone is going to make your room feel a bit more contemporary and a bit crisper (depending on how much you add);
  • Yellow: get ready, things are about to get warm and cosy
  • Blue: this will add some coolness and freshness
  • Lilac: warmer than blue and cooler than green, lilac adds a lovely feminine touch
  • Green: natural and soothing, green will add some warmth without it being too creamy

Drop a tint. Throw some shade.

Next up in this quick-fire colour theory class are (surprise) tints and shades. 

Once you’ve got your head around the undertones, remember that there’s also the intensity of colour to wrestle with. In other words, do you want the lighter shade of pale or to head over to the dark side?

Add white (yep, you can add more white to get a different kind of white) – colour buffs call that a tint. Add black, and they’ll say – now that’s a shade. So next time your protesting husband/wife/housemate/guinea pig claims that there’s no such thing as different shades of white, gladly refer them here as you prepare your best smug face and pick up a paintbrush.

Learn more about colour theory.

Colour compatibility and room direction

Here's what white paint we recommend for rooms with different directions...

North-facing rooms: warm and yellow white paint

North-facing rooms: northern light is the coolest of the lot. It casts a blue hue, so try to avoid cool whites like White 01 and white grey wall paint White 02 (you could just about get away with linen white paint, White 04) and look more to White 03 and White 05 paint whose creamy undertones will warm it up nicely. Or for a dose more depth, try taupe Greige 02 paint.

East-facing rooms: pure and chalky white paint

East-facing rooms: you’ll see a lot of change in them. Whatever white you choose will look very different whether it’s sunset or sunrise. But easterly spaces have a tendency to look a bit bluer, so undertones of blue, green and violet are a good shout on the whole. Take our chalky White 06 paint with its touch of pink, or translate that tone talk to our white palette, and we’d suggest the coolest white of them all – White 01.

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