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When I'm thinking about designing a new space, the big question I always come to a halt at is colour. Using a strong colour is sure to give a much bigger change and impact to a room, and sometimes that's what you feel the people want to see in a makeover - whether they're interior design clients or just your friends and family coming into your home. 

I say, then, that it takes a little bravery to just go ahead and paint it white. 

Okay so bold, dramatic black may be in vogue - painting over that is really going to be a bitch at the other end of this trend - and white is the colour that every show home comes in as standard, but just because you're choosing white doesn't mean you're buying trade quantities of basic Brilliant White. If you're clever with your choices, white can still give personality without reading 'stark', 'clinical' and all those bad things. 

In fact, when painting a room all white, I tend to make it a rule to never coat the room in just a single shade - keeping the walls, ceiling and woodwork different shades adds that depth that stops it looking like a blank-space art gallery. The above image is from a recent project, and though the living room space is predominantly white, small amounts of contrast give it the depth it needs. When you look at any of these paint colours as individual swatches, you'd just think they were plain white, but next to one another, the difference is much more apparent. 

So, this was the plan for the living room in the new house. Now what white to pick.. 

First thing to consider was room facing. South-facing rooms get great warm light, so you can afford to pick a cooler white if you desire - this orientation is pretty much ideal though, so you can choose your colour and know it's most likely to come out looking the shade you think it will. The opposite's true for north-facing rooms, and something with a touch more earthiness may help level out the colour temperature to stop it feeling too cold. 

East and west facing rooms get the light at different times of the day, so best to decide what time of day you're most going to use the room, and appreciate the light in it, before making your choice. 


The living room spans the length of the house, so has a north-facing window and a south-facing window, meaning light isn't too much of a problem in the space. With not too much to worry about on that front, I could go with my gut, which has been feeling warmer tones, teetering ever so delicately on the edge of taupe, of late, instead of the more grey tones which have been around for a little while now. 

Helpfully, I've always got a lot of tester pots at hand for the old day job and, once we'd tried a few out using the 'paint some lining paper' method, we quickly decided on Farrow & Ball's Strong White. F&B described this hue as grey-based, but it's definitely on the warmer end of the spectrum. For the woodwork, we chose Little Greene's Loft White, which just helps to emphasise the off-whiteness of the wall colour. Coving is a job to come still, but it's likely this will get the Little Greene treatment too, while the ceiling is a more standard Brilliant white. 


I'm pretty happy with the colour - and as someone who hasn't actually painted a room by their own hand with F&B until now, I can honestly say the price was worth it when it came to how good the coverage was. 

luke wellsComment