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It’s not all white…

Learn the essential difference between the various shades of "neutral" paint.

Through all the trends that come and go, a neutral colour scheme is arguably the most enduring, whether it’s shades of white or any of the soft beiges or greys.

It’s a calming, restful retreat from the “busyness” of modern life, as well as a neutral backdrop for bold feature walls, artworks and colourful accessories.

However, don’t be tricked into thinking that all beiges and whites are the same. Even the most subtle shade of difference can dramatically alter the colour – and let’s not forget the huge impact that sunlight has. And then there’s the colours you put with your white walls: they can throw an unintended hue.

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There is a HUGE variety of neutral colours to choose from, making the choice overwhelming.

cool whites versus warm whites

It will really help your choice if you understand the essential difference between warm whites and cool whites, and the undertones that create them. Really, you only need to see the starkly different light that Warm White globes and Cool White globes shed to appreciate they’re worlds apart – and how each one affects the ambience of the room. When it comes to white paint colours, it’s all down to the underlying pigments.

Cool whites have a blue or black base and work well in rooms that get a lot of sun, as they can handle the bright sunlight. It’s often the choice for a cool, minimalist aesthetic, where maybe the architecture or artworks or furnishings are the hero.  Think modern warehouses  or loft apartments.

Warm whites have yellow, red or brown undertones, which give them more earthy, less austere tones. They make a room feel cosy. They’re generally well suited to older spaces with period character. That means the neutral scheme you use for a coastal style interior will be vastly different to what works in an urban industrial-style apartment.

Cool colour schemes consist of various shades of blue, green and purple.

 

Cool whites have a blue or black base and work well in rooms that get a lot of sun, as they can handle the bright sunlight.

Warm colour schemes are located along this side of the colour wheel, taking in red through to yellow.
Earthy mixes

For neutrals, warmer brown and green tones work well in most spaces, as they are earthy tones and complement natural materials such as timber and stone. Be careful with colours that have blue tones in them: remember, blue they can make a room feel cold, so they need a lot of light and space to breathe.

Taubmans Barely Beige is a versatile neutral that suits just about any interior. Use it in quarter or half strength, depending on what you’re pairing it with. Some of Taubmans’ popular  beiges include Fossil Find, Taupe Stone, Tenacity and Poland Stone.

Coastal Warm

See Taubmans top 15 most popular whites to help you choose the right shade for your interior.

Warm whites have yellow, red or brown undertones, which give them more earthy, less austere tones.

TIPS

  • Always use a generous test swatch, either on the wall or a large sheet of cardboard.
  • Ensure you look at the painted swatches in the morning, the afternoon and at night to see how the colour changes under different light conditions.
  • The globe you use will have an equally dramatic impact on the shade of neutral you choose.
  • Early to mid-morning sunlight tends to have slightly blue tones, while afternoon to sunset is usually a lot warmer in tone. In direct sunlight, a colour will always look 2-3 shades lighter than it will indoors in artificial light.
  • The type of surface that you are painting, as well as its position and composition, can also alter the appearance of a colour significantly. A colour will appear differently when painted on a smooth timber panel, as opposed to a textured rendered wall,

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