Monday, October 3, 2011

There's White And Then There's White

It is no secret that I love white and neutrals. I lathered the interior of my house in Dulux 'Antique White USA', from top to bottom. It is such a perfect warm white that complements everything I love... timber floors, neutral slip-covered sofas, natural stone, white French doors and silver/rattan accessories.

I must admit I have been itching to learn more about colour so when I had the opportunity to spend some time with the lovely 'Setty Vang', a Dulux Colour Consultant, last week, I jumped at the chance.

Setty discussed what is involved in a Dulux Colour Consult and how the most important thing is getting a good brief from the client. As Setty is a qualified Interior Designer, she takes into account the whole vision of the client's project... the layout of the home, lighting, floor coverings, planned accessories.... before even discussing colour. Choosing colour is all about creating ambience. It can enlarge or reduce spaces, reflect more light and create mood and illusions.

Hmmm, major mood!

I pounced on Setty's colour book as soon she got it out and went straight to the neutrals as I was so keen to hear her take on the 'wonderful world of whites'.

Cooler whites, those with blue/green undertones, tend to suit more modern contemporary homes, with lots of light and modern reflective surfaces, whereas the warmer whites (with cream, yellow and pink undertones), tend to suit a more traditional aesthetic, with possibly lower lighting and more warm finishes like timber and stone.

It was great to be able to look at large A4 sized swatches of colour and see the difference in their undertones. The larger swatches, available through a consultant, are not printed colour but actual "brushouts"... real paint.... so they are as accurate as accurate.

What works? What doesn't work? I wandered around with the large swatches, holding them up against accessories seeing how the colour took on a different life when up against various materials... timber, rattan, linen, silver. It all goes to show that paint colour choice needs to be done in your home, 'at the scene', in the light that you are going to be living in, surrounded by the things that you are going to be living with.

Case Study. I'm a sucker for a good case study.

Remember this place?....

....from one of my posts last week?

Well Setty and I 'duluxed' up this place like there was no tomorrow.

We chose 'Stepney' Grey for the exterior. In the sun it 'throws' a mauve... and in the shade it 'throws' green. I held the large 'Stepney' swatch up to the exterior of my place, in the sun, against another grey I loved, 'Timeless Grey', which has a green undertone. You could really see the mauve tinge in the 'Stepney', in the sunlight.

Setty says, it is important to look at the whole picture, the whole home, when choosing an exterior colour as it has to complement the colour transition indoors. As much as I love the slightly greenish 'Timeless Grey', Setty pointed out that the subtly mauve-based 'Stepney' transitions better with my penchant for warm furnishings and my choice of interior paint, the mauve/slightly pink-based 'Antique White USA'. Both the grey exterior paint choice and the white interior paint choice have a mauve undertone and transition well together.

Setty informed me that "Grey Is The New Brown". I'm so glad to hear that I am keeping up with the trends. Apparently the 'Lattes' were the last biggest thing and now grey is it!

With choosing the exterior and interior white trims, on our 'Case Study House', we looked at either 'Vivid White'... the whitest of whites... or 'Lexicon 1/4' (which I used on the house). Despite the Lexicon having blue undertones, at 1/4 strength you can't really see much blue at all and it still complements even my mauve-based choices of 'Stepney' and 'Antique White USA'. As the 'Case Study Home' might not have the best light and might be a bit dark inside, the very blue-based whites, such as full strength 'Lexicon', would be too murky and dull for the lighting.

It was so interesting dissecting all the whites. See how the 'Peplum' has a slightly mauve base and 'Natural White', 'Whisper White' and 'China White' all have green undertones? I learnt so much!

We did discuss bolder colours... briefly. The general gist is that anything bolder is more likely to date. So I sort of changed the subject pronto. I'm a sucker for 'timeless' and needed to discuss whites more! Setty said that the whites and neutrals are the most popular colour range. They are ideal for creating a clean, classical backdrop which provides a good basis for adding your most favourite colours to any room.

Exciting blog news..... Dulux has kindly offered one of my Australian readers a session with a Dulux Colour Consultant, anywhere in Australia! If you are here in Brisbane, you might be lucky enough to win a session with Setty. She's so much fun and has been doing this for 16 years! .... a colour pro!

All you have to do is answer the question, "What Dulux colour would you choose to repaint one of your rooms and why?" 

Just leave your answers in the comment section under this post and I will draw a winner on Friday the 14th of October, 2011.

To help you on your way with colours, there is a wonderful gallery of hues on the Dulux site HERE or go to their 'Colour Atlas' HERE if you are after the serious stuff!

Have fun!


  1. That first pic took my breath away! :-)

  2. we are currently in the process of painting our whole house in Antique White USA! i have also loved the colour for many years and paint up lots of furniture in it too. sounds as though you had a fun time with Setty :) Kate x

  3. Hello A-M

    that is THE BEST post done on colour explanation in ages.

    I really mean it - You have explained things so well for us to comprehend and I feel like I was a very good student in your class taking it all in.

    I have had light Latte painted in my house for 7 years - loved it from the moment it went on the walls - but (well you know me) - I wanted it white immediately!

    I will paint it one day - and my french doors too.

    Wow - what a great competition you have running too.

    I clicked on the dulux ad on the side bar on your site and it is a great site they have

    My dad was a colour expert in his profession and would love your post.

    have a wonderful day



  4. How co-incidental you should post this today A-M. I spent the weekend with an array of little Dulux test pots trying to work out an exterior colour for my place here in FNQ. (I now have a whole wall on my verandah with a wholerange of splotches in varying shades from whites to greys - interesting look!) The existing exterior shade (Moonlight) with Heritage green gutters/Mist green colourbond roof and white trim is looking very dated and I would love to spruce it up. I would like to go to something (Hamptons like) like an off white (1/2 strength Hog Bristle) leave the trims in white and maybe consider painting the gutters/verandah rails in a darker grey shade. My only problem is - what do I do about the roof? I don't want to go to the trouble/expense of painting over the existing Mist Green colourbond - but will it look odd if I don't match the exterior colour to it? Such a dilemma! Any suggestions greatly appreciated!! ;)Sharyne

  5. Thanks A-M, please count me in as we desperately need some help in working out what colour to paint the exterior of our house. I am not geetting very far on my own. In regard to painting a room on the interior, I like the Dulux 'Handmade Linen' which picks up a green I have in the bedlinen. Fingers crossed. Have a great day. ;-)

  6. We painted our whole house Whisper White. Haven't got to the trims yet but they will be painted whisper White (gloss). Our ceilings and kitchen are both vivid White.

    Have an amazing week A-M.


  7. Wow, I knew that there were many many shades of white, but thank you A-M, I am now beginning to understand how they work.

    My husband and I are just about to build a house and in an effort to put money elsewhere into the build, we are painting it ourselves. I have been studying colour charts and design mags for inspiration!!!

    I have been looking at a green-grey for the exterior, with crisp white trim, so following your wonderful explanation I will be looking at something like China White or Whisper White for the interior.

    Thank you for a very informative post.

    Have a great day!

  8. Great post A-Me, you have explained the art of choosing whites perfectly. Our house is a shrine to Dulux Lexicon quarter/ half and was excited to read that I'm on trend! It's true that this shade throws the faintest blue tone and works beautifully in conveying a cool feel through our home. The assistants at the Dulux trade centre were most helpful when choosing the right white for our home. All who visit comment on the brilliant white walls and how well they work in this space. How exciting is the offer of a colour consult for the lucky winner. I won't throw my name in the hat sweets as we've already commenced painting the exteriors (Dulux colours and paint again). Xxx

  9. After reading this AM, all my colour theory came rushing back in to my mind. I studied colour design a couple of years back and used the theory when choosing colours. I too LOVE whites and neutrals. My house is only 5 years old and has a more contemporary feel, so I used a cool white throughout. The house is quite big with high ceilings, big windows and doors, so the colour 'cools' the house. It also reflects the beautiful blue sky through the windows, doors and a couple of very large fixed windows. It works!...T

  10. Hi A-M, great post. Dulux Sahara is the one I have my eye on for our exterior.

  11. As I'm sat at my kitchen bench with a coffee catching up on the blogs that I haven't read whilst on holiday a painter is also trying to talk to me about the differences between whites....and then I come across this post!
    When I moved into this house a few years ago it was an array of bright '80 colours. I quickly got out the Dulux Chalk USA and set to work. After about a year I realised that it was a touch too creamy white for the house and when we got it painted last year I took some advice and went for China White 1/4 strength. It's a much fresher colour and lightens up the space. I so agree that you have to take everything into account and try colours in your own home, even at different times of day, and if you have the chance, then at different times of the year.
    A painter is here this morning to do the new French doors and I'm contemplating getting him to paint the play room white. It is a bourganivilia inspired bright pink at the moment! It has seriously high yucky cream ceilings so well out of my range.

  12. We're in the middle of repainting in Hogs Bristle 1/2 at the moment. It's a lovely warm neutral that complements and tones done the reddish stained dark wood trim and beams we inherited from the previous owners.

  13. Cottonwool Blue for my little boys room. My mum is making an amazing quilt for him with similar colours (never thought about having same undertones). White furniture, white trim and a nice rug to compliment it. So hopefully it will all come together and look great.

  14. Well, you've seen photos of the VERY yellow-with-green-trims house we just moved into, which we intend to paint at some stage, though as yet undecided, it will be along the lines of white or grey. I never realised there were so many different greys!

    While the majority of our walls are white (with dark timber picture rails, doors etc) our master bedroom is a very yellowy cream, which I'm not a fan of. If it wasn't pouring I would go out to the shed and find out the colour. I would love to paint it a very soft grey. Maybe Slipper Satin Quarter or Horizon Sky Quarter would suit?

    The previous occupant of my daughter's bedroom was a teenage boy, and the white walls are filthy, sugar soap and elbow grease only made a small dent, so we're planning to repaint in there as well. Pink, obviously, but I'm not sure which shade would tie in with her quilts etc best.

    As you can tell, I need help!

  15. I want something calm and neutral for our bedroom that I can brighten up with white furniture and bright coloured soft furnishings so would go for Highgate or Knowing I think... Love white skirting boards against the grey as well.

  16. Earlier in the year I agonised over white paint for my beach apartment. In the end I went for Dulux white on white. I couldn't be happier with the result. it has a blue tinge making the water backdrop perfect.
    I found the process of choosing paint daunting but at the same time fun.
    Your day with Setty Vang sounds amazing, I would love to do a colour consultant course in the future.

  17. Natural White is my favourite at the moment. A nice warm white for a contemporary interior that I didn't want to feel 'cold' or souless! I love Silver Illusion too - I'm thinking it will be a good main bedroom colour. I'd call it a warm grey? Sort of taupe / grey! Obviously I'm on trend towards the new grey adoption!

  18. Hi A-M. How I would love to win this.... though I think we have to decide on our colours this week. We are renovating our Queenslander and have chosen our exterior colours (though I wish I had read your post before I chose them as I clearly didn't consider this as well as I should have done....). Current exterior is walls in Lexicon, window frames/big double hung windows at the front/French doors in Lexicon quarter in semi gloss, and the gutters and balustrade of the verandah railings in Leadman with some battens underneath the house in Simone Weil. All Dulux colours. I have planned this renovation for so long in my head and when it came down to these choices I became overwhelmed and just quickly chose these colours. I knew I wanted greys and neutrals, and am keen for something similar inside (previously had antique white usa inside but wanted to try something a bit crisper). I'd love some help :). I have started a blog about my slow progress: (though I am a novice blogger and it is not fancy). Take care and thanks for this very helpful post F x

  19. The only colour I have been able to actually make a decision on is Vivid white for all the living areas in our California bungalow and about 1/3 is done.
    I would love a colour consultant to help me choose an exterior colour- I am also looking for a light grey with white trim so your post was very well timed. I want one with a hint of green ie eucalypt and definitely not blue. melx

  20. LOVE the bay windows and the light shining in through the bedroom! Gorgeous!

  21. Oh I love this post A-M (and I know nothing of painting or interior design)! I just love your explanation, your case study and most of all your enthusiasm. Will you come all the way to Canada to work on my house someday?! Bring the boys and stay forever!

    XO, Andrea

  22. I would love a session with the Dulux Colour Consultant, but in reality, as MOTH has severe colour blindness, we need the services of a Marriage Counsellor when we are deciding interior/external colours. We had an enormous argy bargy over him swearing black & blue that Clotted Cream was a lime green shade!
    Millie x

  23. A-M, you read my mind! I am currently contemplating what colour to paint my house! I adore Dulux Off White for it's lovely warm undertones... it's probably my favourite white.

  24. Oh A-M - what a delight to find this post tonight when one of my "jobs" for tomorrow is choosing interior colors for our new home.. A minefield! I'm thinking buff it - because I am too unsure of using grey with all my latte colored furniture and accents....mmmm...i need a color consultant - thanks for the opportunity x

  25. With our renovations approaching at a rate of knots (we start in December) and the unbelievable amount of colours we need to get rid of both inside and out.

    I can not seem to get past the Dulux white range, in particular Whisper White.

    A fresh prospective from a Dulux colour consultant may be just the thing I need to help me see past the psychedelic array of colours I currently have, everywhere!

    Thanks A-M
    Have a great day.
    x Jode

  26. Hi A-M,
    Great post, yes colour is not as simple as it looks. A experts advise can save you heart ache and $$$. When a house is done well with colour no matter what colour that may be, it's the one everybody notices in the street. Even to a untrained eye it somehow looks special.
    Thanks for the great post.
    Warm regards,

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. We are currently renovating and extending our weatherboard cottage to accommodate our growing family and have decided to paint the outside Dulux Ominous- a beautiful warm grey, just a touch more mauve than stepney with lexicon quarter trim. Ominous is an old colour that we hunted down after knocking on lots of doors!
    We're just about to paint the inside of the extension- a beautiful open plan living / dining and shaker style kitchen with a butler's pantry very much inspired by by yours in the house which I have admired for so long :). We're having bifold doors off our dining area onto a big east facing deck and lots of windows so something fresh is needed.
    Like you I adore linens and my beautiful spotted gum
    floors so I think we need to stick to warmer colours.
    I'm currently loving natural white and half antique white
    USA but would love to be brave and try a French grey, which i could carry through to pair with duck egg blue or
    dusky pink in one if my 3 little girl's rooms. Perhaps a colour consultant could help me? Xo

  29. Hi A-M, I love the new look, Katrina is definately a bit of a whizz!!
    Great post, I would love a session with a colour consultant as this is my dream job & I would like to pick thier brain, LOL, on how to get into the industry!! I am thinking on Hogs bristle half or quarter strength with natural white for my trims in our house when its built but some suggestions & reassurance would be a god send!!!
    Have a great week!!

  30. Brilliant post A-M. I learnt so much - thanks. Not only am I bookmarking this post but I posted a link to it on the Decorating Forum. I highly recommended forum members pop over an dread this:).

  31. What Colour would I paint one of my rooms?
    Dulux Whisper White. It's green undertone is perfect for creating a soothing link to the outdoors in my living room. The French doors open onto a green canopy so the white will be bright, but still connect to what is happening outdoors.
    It was so good to read your experience and explanation of colours with Setty, A-M.
    I LOVE Dulux paints!

  32. Hi there A-M,

    I am about to paint the outside of our Queenslander and am getting confused by all the paint choices....I've nearly had a few car accidents as I am constantly on the look out for colour schemes I like on similar houses.

    At the moment I am thinking of grey/green (we have the green and opaque old windows). Stepney looks nice. Or otherwise stick to a white (not sure which one) with dark grey or charcoal trimmings. We painted the inside Antique White USA and love it....although husband thinks it's a little pinkish in some rooms. I would love to discuss with Setty, can you post her contact details?

    Thanks and love your blog (this is my first blog comment!)


  33. Thank you so much for all of that fanastic info. It came at just the right time as i had spent saturday at bunnings, paint place and mitre ten armed with paint samples and three children under 4 (not recommended). Finally i have decided on antique white for our first family home, not only because so many people have raved about it but because i picked up the sample 3 times at the different stores so i must love it! Lets hope my children don't turn it red with crayon. Keep up the good work.


  34. After painting the interior of my house Antique White USA, I think I need a colour accent in my bedroom. I'm leaning towards Supernova Half a gorgeous pale blue/aqua colour which will be calm and relaxing to wake up to in the morning.
    I desperately need a colour consultation on the exterior of my house - the dreary dark cream and charcoal weighs down my pretty Californian bungalow :-)

  35. is it to late to get help..I have lived with peach trims and magnolia walls thruout my whole house..only because I can't make up my mind...its the windows that throw it out of sync..I go from grey to a soft green anything but peach.....

  36. I love Bengal Blue, it'd look great in our bathroom and would look brilliant against the white fittings, with some pops of yellow and wooden shelving!

  37. Hello A-M

    I would paint our media room in Harts Grey - I know, a dark colour - but with highlights of yellow & white in the room I think it would all just come alive.

    Our story is that we're just about to start to build our farm house (& first home) and this competition - for anyone to win - is great!

    Thanks for the chance.


  38. What timing! I'm in the process of selecting colours for an extension on my little beach house. I'm thinking vivid white for the room which includes the living room and kitchen - I need to let the light in and I think the white will really brigten the place up. Thanks for the competition. Lisa

  39. Great comp just what I need at the moment as we are slowly removing all the 1976 wallpaper from our house!

    We are ready to paint our first room which is a bedroom for my two boys aged 4 and 1. This will be Mr 1's first bedroom as his cot has been next to my bed and the first time Mr 4 has had a bed buddy so definitely want a colour that is warm, inviting, not too grown up but not too babyish either. I'm thinking half strength 'Scallywag' as its lovely and neutral, will suit all my white furniture and the name is quite fitting for my boys too!

  40. Thank you for the reminder to enter :)
    I have recently discovered the wonders of Antique White USA and love how it complements everything.


  41. Hello A-M, I've been meaning to enter this so I'm glad that I'm not too late. I have just painted my living room but would love to have my home office done as I'm just not motivated to be in there at the moment. I love blues and whites so I think that Lexicon would be perfect to complement blue & white fabrics. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave me a comment. I love hearing from you. A-M xx