The Right White

The Right White

‘I want to keep it simple.  I just want white.’

As designers, we’ve all heard this before – many, many times.  White is a popular colour (or reflection of light, to be technical) –it’s a safe option for the cautious and wary, a perfect partner for outstanding architecture, and a must-have for avid art collectors. But the selection of the ‘right white’ is rarely straightforward. In this feature, we’ll explore a range of whites and see some pearler examples. 

A pure white can be used to emphasise stunning architectural features with great effect, as demonstrated in the examples below. In both cases, the designers have used the ever-popular Dulux Vivid White on both cabinetry and walls.

In the wrong application, however, pure whites can have some drawbacks in interior applications. With its light-reflective properties, a pure white can be overwhelmingly bright, and a genuine need for sunglasses could compromise your best design intentions! A pure white can also lead to pricey painting touch-ups: when all trades have finished their fit offs and inevitably marked your crisp white walls, your painter will be working hard to get seamless coverage with a virtually un-tinted paint.

A tinted or ‘off-white’ tone, on the other hand, will help you avoid these dilemmas without losing the ‘all-white-vibe’. Following are a few tips for finding the right white for your client.

Determine the Undertone

All colours comprise a ‘mass tone’ and an ‘undertone’.  A mass tone is the colour that you see right away, while an undertone is the characteristic of a hue that is often concealed when the colour is viewed in isolation.  A true blue, for example, will have a mass colour of blue and an undertone very similar in hue.  A turquoise, on the other hand, will have a mass colour of blue and an undertone of green.  The same theory applies to off-whites – while the mass tone is white, the undertone could be red, orange, yellow or brown (warm), green (cool/warm), blue (cool) or black/grey (neutral).  When looking at a colour swatch on its own, it may certainly appear to be white.  Put the same colour alongside another, however, and the effect could be vastly different.  If the undertone of the white clashes with the undertones of hues around it, a ‘safe’ colour scheme can turn bad very quickly!  The easiest way to determine the undertone is to place the selected colour alongside a ‘real’ white (try your brightest copy paper).  You’ll immediately see a faint yellow, pink, blue or other colour, and you’ll have identified your undertone.

When you’ve established the undertone, you can work out which of the following categories the proposed selection fits into, and which will best suit your client’s overall scheme.

Warm Whites

Red, orange, yellow and brown-based whites are best for rooms that need ‘warming up’ (with a southern orientation, for example).  Warm whites sit well with earthy, natural hues, and as they are more inclined to ‘come forward’ in a room (remember warm colours come forward, cool colours recede), they help to create a cozy feel.

Perth designer, Maggie Milligan, nestled White Satin cabinetry amidst Dulux Antique White USA walls in this warm and homely kitchen.

Melbourne designer, Olivia Cirocca, combined the warmth of Dulux Dieskau cabinetry with Dulux Natural White walls in this classy kitchen.

Cool Whites

Blue undertones will make a white appear icy and cool – perfect for west or north-facing rooms that need ‘cooling down’.  They are generally described as ‘crisp and clean’, and suit contemporary styling and minimalistic schemes.

Dulux Lexicon Quarter was applied to the walls and cabinetry in this ultra-cool kitchen by Melbourne designer, Kia Howat.

Dulux Lexicon Quarter cabinetry is crisp and clean in this smart space, designed by Brisbane’s Estelle Cameron.

Neutral Whites

Grey-based whites are popular for their cool, architectural qualities.  When the undertone sits between grey and beige, a warmer effect is created.

Brisbane designer, Ashley Maddison, used Resene Alabaster in this award-winning beauty.

Warm/Cool – Chameleons

Green-based whites will often ‘morph’ with their surroundings.  The green undertone is made up of blue (cool) and yellow (warm), and the colours will change depending on light quality and/or surrounding furnishings.  Of course, a very yellow-green undertone will appear warmer, and a bluish-green undertone will appear cooler, but somewhere in the middle will prove popular for many.

Bonlex Classic White cabinetry sits sweetly alongside Dulux Snowy Mountain half walls in this stunning kitchen by Perth designer, Glenda Roff.

Do you have a favourite go-to white? Have you got a hot tip for finding the right white? Feel free to share your comments below.

Curvaceous Creations

Curvaceous Creations

An expression that’s often bumped around is ‘straight lines for duty; curved lines for beauty’. In kitchens and bathrooms, curving cabinets and details are certainly challenging from a construction point of view, but can add a special flow and energy to well-planned spaces. In this feature, we’ve found four examples where talented designers have ticked the boxes for beauty and duty with their curvaceous creations.

Eliesha Paiano’s clients were keen on curves, and the Sydney designer went to extraordinary efforts to implement some curvaceous details in this award-winning design. The impressive island unit is clad with rounded quads, adding a point of difference while at the same time softening the intensity of the teal-coloured cabinets (colour: Taubmans Ming Surprise). The corners of the island are cleverly curved, too, with the radius of the benchtop edges mirroring the quad detail.

This bathroom’s curvaceous nib wall and a knock-out curving bulkhead wowed the judges in this year’s KBDi Designer Awards. Perth designer, Kyle McGregor, turned a very ordinary space into an organically-inspired retreat. With its warm finishes, soft edges and truly unique appeal, the bathroom won Kyle the top gong and the title of KBDi Australian Bathroom Designer of the Year.

Adelaide designer, Nathan Wundersitz CKD Au, drew inspiration from outside in this stunning kitchen design. Curved stone walls in his client’s outdoor entertaining area inspired the gently curving island feature, adding a lovely flow to this warm and homely space.

Sydney designer, Darren Genner CKD Au, took great delight in duplicating architectural details in this beautiful kitchen design. The impressive arches within this heritage-listed home (circa 1900) inspired the gently curved joinery, reflecting the gentle geometry with style. Additionally, the design of unique island façade was sparked by the fluted base of a sewer breathing stack positioned by the front doors of this Mosman residence.

If you have a curvaceous creation you’d like to share with Australia, contact us today. Or drop a line in the comments below to let us know your take on the beauty or duty challenge. 

InnoTech Atira Drawer System

InnoTech Atira Drawer System

A message from our Silver Sponsor, Hettich

InnoTech Atira Drawer System – Extended Platform Concept

The InnoTech Atira drawer system by Hettich is full of character: Straight lines, clean contours and is available in three finishes; white, silver and the new dark anthracite. A variety of additional elements complemented by versatile interior organisation solutions form the perfect mix for more individuality. InnoTech Atira combines attractive options for differentiating with high-cost efficiency by means of the platform concept.

The sleek design of InnoTech Atira fits into any home situation and offers a wide variety of options for differentiating drawers and pull-outs. Various side elements, such as railing and TopSide with glass below the railing and runners provide individually tailored solutions that can be produced with flexibility and ease. Further added value for individualists comes from designer profiles that can be simply adhered to the drawer side profile. The high-quality designer profiles create visual highlights, emphasise the system’s corners and edges, with decors of the same colour for internal front panels or interior organisation. The freedom of design has no limits, because with InnoTech Atira, striking design meets proven technology.

Perfect differentiation also in terms of function: from the partial extension runner with soft closing to the full extension runner with Silent System or Push to open Silent. The Quadro partial extension runner is the ideal gateway to double-walled drawer systems, and with the option of being upgraded to a full extension runner, the ideal basis for InnoTech Atira. The range is perfectly complemented by the innovative, user-friendly Push to open Silent function that competently combines handleless opening in response to a light press on the front panel with soft closing drawers. From small and light to large and heavy – the best performance is guaranteed for all drawers, e.g. by using a 10 kg runner or optional, clip in synchronisation for conveniently opening the drawer from almost anywhere on the front panel. Particular practical convenience is evident in many facets, such as in the retriggering guard or the intelligent drawer energy storage system if there’s ever a lack of momentum on closing. Push to open Silent impresses with convenience and operational reliability.

The interior organisation, perfectly coordinated with the style elements, offers many practical storage options. InnoTech Atira is a perfected product range for many different applications and customised design options and is based on a platform concept that uses just one drawer side profile, keeping cost and effort as low as possible in production, stock keeping and logistics.

Learn more here.

Take a Blum Kitchen Test Drive and be rewarded

Take a Blum Kitchen Test Drive and be rewarded

A message from our Gold Sponsor, Blum

Take a Blum Kitchen Test Drive and be rewarded: both you and your client could take home a Winning Appliances voucher! 

Wendy Moore joins Blum to encourage anyone going through a kitchen renovation or new build to make an appointment to do a Blum Kitchen Test Drive.

Wendy has been an integral part of the design world for over 28 years, witnessing real-life experiences of people designing and creating a home they love. So, she understands the importance of getting it right the first time.

What is a Kitchen Test Drive?

Watch the video below and see how you can experience your designs in real life.

  • Blum Kitchen Test Drive allows you to show your designs to your customers in real life, using full-scale cabinets.
  • Is there enough work surface? Are the workflows smooth and efficient? And is there enough storage space?
  • The cabinets are mobile and can be easily and quickly moved around to show different kitchen layouts.
  • Demonstrate spatial awareness for your clients.

How can you be rewarded?

Between 1 September and 6 December 2019, when you bring your customer into your local Blum Showroom for a Kitchen Test Drive, both you and your client will each be rewarded with a $100 Winning Appliances voucher after the appointment.

As an added bonus for your customer, they will be eligible to go into the draw to win a further $300 Winning Appliances voucher in the weekly draw.

To book a kitchen test drive and experience your designs in real-life visit

Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

Created from a photograph of a beautiful piece of salvaged timber, Planked Urban Oak joins Laminex’s collection of highly realistic woodgrain decors.

We can identify any number of reasons why architects and designers are drawn to reclaimed timbers: the warmth and character that comes to timber with age, for example; the emphasis on recycling and sustainability, and the provenance of building materials; the connection to ideas of craftsmanship and authenticity. But Laminex Product Design Manager Neil Sookee sums it up neatly in one short sentence: “It’s the story of imperfection.” A new addition to Laminex’s Woodgrains palette, Planked Urban Oak celebrates the flawed beauty of its source wood, a single piece of salvaged oak, employing the latest production technology to recreate with incredible realism the colour, fibre detail and subtle marks made in the wood over the years – “those checks and splits that develop over time, and the yellowing that comes with exposure to the sun and elements.”

Capturing the true character of aged woodgrain

This approach of realistically rendering the unique qualities of the source wood, common across the Laminex Woodgrains palette and only made possible by advances in digital imaging and engraving techniques, is quite distinct from the flawless appearance often associated with new timber veneers. Sookee refers to the process as the “authentic imitation of genuinely aged material”, and it’s something of a mantra for what Laminex seeks to achieve in all of its imitation decors. “Nature is imperfect, so if you’re reflecting on a piece of material found in nature, then you represent it honestly,” says Sookee. “It’s about taking inspiration from gracefully aged materials – that are almost like found objects – rather than trying to artificially create the look.”

Bringing the look of reclaimed timber to more design projects

The benefit for architects and designers is that it makes it more feasible to bring the look and feel of reclaimed timber into more interiors, because not every project can accommodate the resources required to find the perfect piece of salvaged timber. And by its very nature, the timbers are only available in limited quantities. 

In the case of Planked Urban Oak, the work of finding that perfect timber has already been done by the product design team who, according to Sookee, “will search far and wide to find buildings and structures anywhere they can for inspiration. And then there’s a real skill in being able to develop separations for something that’s beautiful, in a way that delivers the realism they’re looking for.” But once that work is done, the unique beauty of that original plank of oak can be captured in interior spaces again and again, no longer a limited resource.

Planked Urban Oak is available in low-sheen, smooth Natural finish. It’s also offered in the new low-gloss, tactile Chalk finish, which adds additional realism and highlights the source wood’s intrinsic character.

Laminex Planked Urban Oak is available now, order a sample here.