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Colour // Cool White

This month I decided to be really bold and feature … white! In one way it seems a bit inside out and backward to feature such a colour here – in a realm that is all about rich saturation, depth, and character – and yet in another it seems essential given white’s huge popularity and its vast array of subtle undertones that can be close to imperceptible to identify and therefore implement to the untrained eye. So here I feature cool white, if not purely as an exploration of just one side of white’s character. I’d say that there are at least several broad categories of white that I could deal with, but starting with this one just seems right on a warm, sunny, breezy October day like today.

It’s important to understand white precisely because it is so commonly used as a default colour by people all over, and quite frankly, it so often doesn’t work. Despite what you might think, white needs to considered just as carefully as you would any other bright, bold, or daring colour in order to ensure stunning results. There’s an underlying, subtle assumption amongst the majority that white it is a ‘non-offensive colour’ because choosing to use it isn’t making the same level of design statement that choosing another colour might. However for me, white is actually the hardest to get right, the easiest to get wrong, and the worst when employed in the wrong way. Not that I want to scare you off (though part of me does!).

Cool White

Cool white suits a relaxed atmosphere. Inherently, it suggests repose, calm, quietude, and laid-back simplicity, which is why it complements hot climates so well. If you want to instate a sense of resort-like escape, then cool white is usually pretty perfect. It goes wonderfully with blues, greens, and greys, so of course it naturally suits Oasis-like locations (whether you’re creating a cleverly deceptive inner city escape or you live by the seaside). For me, this mood is at the heart of cool white, so if you fancy something spicier, I’d suggest looking elsewhere!

Here are a few really beautiful examples of Cool White in situ, and if this sort of thing does float your boat, Resene have several great colours that are sure to invoke the right feel.

Riad Snan13

I don’t know how you couldn’t like this… Soft, cool white, big green tropical leaves, cool, dark timber, and the most lovely watery green pool. Try Resene Athens Grey (remembering that outside in the sunlight, every colour looks paler than it does in the tin) // Riad Snan13, Marrakech, Morocco.

half athens grey

Riad Snan13 02

I felt forced to put a second image of Riad Snan 13 in here. We all needed to glimpse the interiors… Here the soft white walls sit next to sage grey greens and aged metal to create a thoroughly peaceful little haven.

black white

Black White is the subtlest off white with greenish undertones and would work well with sage green and metal elements.


White with a tiny hint of pure grey really brings a relaxed Scandinavian look. Try Resene Sea Fog for a similar mood. // The house of Paula Leen for Est Magazine.


Resene Sea Fog is a very pure grey white and looks great up against rich medium to dark greys and blacks.


A calm contemporary kitchen in cool white // Robson Rak Architects in collaboration with Made by Cohen


Very Fresh, very tropical, this pure white kitchen definitely channels a seaside vibe. Go with Resene Alabster in quarter strength. // A real home from Queensland Homes

quarter alabaster

jakon nylund

White as white can be, and perfectly complemented with black blacks. Go with Resene Alabaster in half or quarter strength. // The home of Jakob Nylund.



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The Author:

Our principle designer Poppy is a Masters of Architecture graduate from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She graduated in 2013 with First Class Honours, received the Dean's Medal and was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter Masters of Architecture Graduate of the Year prize. In 2010, Poppy received the Eric Parker Travelling Scholarship encouraging the research and drawing of architecture.

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