How to choose the right off-white paint

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How to choose the right off-white paint

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
City appartment:  Living room by Hampstead Design Hub,
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Of all the colour choices available to us, white is the one that remains a timeless classic. Loved by painters and interior designers, white ensures a perfect blank canvas to make those additional hues, textures and motifs come to fabulous life.

But we understand that choosing the right shade of white can be a tricky task – and yes, there is indeed more than one type of white, as evidenced by the thousands of off-white hues and their respective names like Daisy, Porcelain, Seashell, Cornsilk, etc.  

So, how do you undergo a quick crash course in off-white colours that allows you to choose the perfect one for your home? By reading ahead, obviously…  

1. Off-white paint: Get to know the different tints

Broadgates Road:  Bathroom by Granit Architects,
Granit Architects

Broadgates Road

Granit Architects

Some whites are whiter than others, otherwise there wouldn’t be a whole world of different off-white tints. Off-white paint can come in different bluish, reddish, yellowish, and greenish undertones. 

To see the huge variety, visit your local paint shop and ask to see their selection of off-white hues with different undertones. Compare them side by side, and also hold them up against a sheet of white paper – the complexity of each off-white hue will reveal itself to you. 

2. Off-white paint: What’s in the room?

Before making your choice, first consider the type of room you plan on painting. Will the colours of the furniture and décor be cool or warm? If they’re warm, opt for an off-white with warm-tinted undertones (pinks, oranges, reds). If they’re cool, lean more towards cool-tinted off-whites (blues, purples and greens). 

And if your room’s colour palette is neutral, we recommend selecting a warmer off-white to ensure an inviting ambience. 

Just remember that your furnishings can sometimes affect your perception of paint. For instance, if you get a ‘warm’ off-white, it could be because of the entire assembly of the space and not just the paint. 

3. Off-white paint: Consider the lighting

As colour is a phenomenon of light, the amount of light in a room (both natural and artificial) tends to impact the tone of the walls. For example, a pure white can look quite dazzling with lots of natural light, yet the same white can also have a base with more of a pigment if there’s less natural light. 

Of course geography also comes into play: south-facing rooms generally have weak, cool natural light (which is when you need to go for a warmer off-white), while north-facing spaces usually have plenty of strong sunshine (in which case, a cooler off-white might be more suitable). 

4. Off-white paint: Picking the best ones

Keep the following in mind when sifting through those various off-white paints:

• A pure white colour comes across as more modern than an off-white with an undertone; 

• The best whites aren’t 100% white at all – in most cases, bright white requires a bit of tempering with colour;

• If you’re struggling to decide, rather go with a neutral white in-between what you can clearly define as ‘warm’ and ‘cool’. 

5. Off-white paint: Testing your favourite shades

Parker coffee table:  Living room by Loaf,

Parker coffee table


Never make a decision while standing in the paint store – take some of your favourite samples home to try out. A white that seemed warm on a small paint chip can quickly look too pink when painted on your wall. 

How so? Because colours shift slightly from paint chip to wall, and from wall to ceiling, and from room to room, etc. It’s all about the proximity to windows, the types of lighting fixtures used, and the direction of exposure. 

Also take note of how that off-white changes from day to night. That’s why it’s equally important to wait at least one day before choosing one of the samples painted on your wall. 

6. The right off-white paint for: The living room

Living rooms are usually bathed in good natural daylight. But what do you use your living room for? If its décor imply a lively atmosphere used for lots of socialising, we suggest going with a cool off-white with a hint of orange or gold. If you want to suggest a relaxing atmosphere, opt for an off-white with an undertone of calm green (like sage). 

And if your living room doesn’t have that much natural lighting? Then opt for warm shades of yellow and gold to compensate for the lack of light (such as Honey white, or Primrose white). 

7. The right off-white paint for: The bedroom

 Bedroom by homify

l-shaped loft conversion wimbledon


In a bedroom that receives lots of natural light, a calming palette of greens and blues can encourage a good night’s sleep. If this is what you’re aiming for, we suggest a white with a teal or moss undertone. On the other hand, if you want your off-white walls to help lift you out of bed every morning, go with a white that sports a touch of gold or light caramel. 

For a relaxing colour palette in a bedroom that has poor natural light, warm mauve and lilacs can be ideal – thus, we suggest an off-white with a violet or blueberry tint. Otherwise, if a warm and sunny vibe is what you’re after, opt for an off-white paint that has tones of cream and peach. 

8. The right off-white paint for: The bathroom

Roland Gardens :  Bathroom by BTL Property LTD,
BTL Property LTD

Roland Gardens

BTL Property LTD

To make the most of a small space, a cool white like Pearl or Almond can be perfect – especially if your small bathroom receives good daylight. 

On the other hand, a small bathroom that doesn’t get much sunshine needs to appear larger – and for that we recommend a white with a touch of warm blue or purple.

9. The right off-white paint for: The kitchen

Modern German White Kitchen:  Kitchen by Woollards of Mildenhall,
Woollards of Mildenhall

Modern German White Kitchen

Woollards of Mildenhall

Does the heart of your home receive good daylight? Do you want your busy cooking space to feel more calm and tranquil? Paint those walls in a white with a touch of fresh pastel green or blue. 

For a kitchen that doesn’t get lots of natural light, try an off-white paint with an undertone of amethyst purple – it’s sure to add a feeling of warmness to the room.

Discover the 13 ways colour can impact the mood in your home. 

Do you consider yourself schooled on the topic of off-white paint? Let us know...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd,

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