Which white is right?

We’re so excited to have the fabulous Christy Mantese of Bowerbird Interior Styling guest posting today.  The team at Bowerbird (Christy & Jacqui) are also giving away a Linen & Moore cushion valued at $110 to one lucky reader.  See details at the end of this post.

I have recently been taking advantage of this gorgeous sunshiny spring weather to do some much-needed painting at my house and the object of my attention has been the Guest House situated in our garden. Now, to the untrained eye this modest little one-roomed building would probably be termed a simple backyard bungalow, but the designer in me (dah-ling!) can only see the potential of our little gem and therefore I cannot help but give it the much more grandiose name of “The Guest House”.

Until now, our unfortunate guests have had to deal with anything but luxury. Think unpainted lining boards, gaps around the windows (let’s say it’s well ventilated) and an en suite door that leads only to an “imaginary” bathroom. This however, is now all changing due to the impending arrival of my dear sister who will be residing with us for a few months – long enough to prompt a quick upgrade of the facilities on offer.

So, while I was painting the window frames the other day and admiring the deliciousness of the rich creamy white paint (I was tempted to dip strawberries in it), it left me thinking about the vast array of white shades that are available for us to choose from and how confusing it can be to know which one is the perfect shade for your house. For me, I knew exactly which white to choose. I wanted a colour that was creamy not stark, that worked well with a vintage cottage look, that evoked a warm and cosy feeling and that was still bright and fresh. I chose Dulux’s Lamarque, a lovely fresh white with warm undertones that also tones perfectly with a warm grey that I am using. Here are a few tips so that you too can feel confident with your choice of white.

  • Decide whether you want a white with a warm or a cool base. Warm whites tend to create a cosy, homely space and look wonderful in homes that are older, traditional or darkish. Cool whites tend to make a space expand and look great in modern or minimalist homes that have a lot of light in them.
  • If you already have carpet or other flooring that you are keeping, put your white colour samples next to them and make sure they work together. A warm beige carpet will not look good with a cool based white!
  • Try to get large A4 samples of the whites that you like and stick them to the wall that you’re painting. You can get A4 samples from a Colour Consultant, Interior Decorator or you can sometimes purchase them from paint suppliers. Otherwise, get sample pots and paint a block of your chosen colour onto your wall, often a colour looks very different in your home than it does on a small sample card from the paint shop so this step is well worth it!
  •  To make sure that your room doesn’t end up looking monotone and boring, choose different shades of your chosen white on the walls and the trims. My formula is full strength on the walls, half strength on the trims (architraves, skirting and cornicing) and quarter strength on the ceiling. The whole room then works beautifully as a whole. Some people prefer darker trims than walls, if this is the case with you, use half strength on the walls, full strength on the trims and quarter on the ceiling.
  • Book a consultation with an Interior Decorator or Colour Consultant. Many people think that this is an extravagance but a professional can help you to find the perfect scheme to enhance your house. A paint colour consultation usually costs $150 – $400 depending on the size of the job and can give you peace of mind and confidence that can save you from costly mistakes.

And now it’s time for me to pick up my paint brush again and get back to “The Guest House”. My diamond in the rough is slowly evolving and will soon be worthy of its rather grand name, if only I can find my dear husband and get him working on the “imaginary” bathroom to turn it into a reality! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.


To be in the running to win this gorgeous Linen & Moore cushion, simply:

  1. ‘Like’ the Bowerbird Styling Facebook page
  2. You must be following Working Women Australia on either Facebook OR Twitter
  3. Tell us in a comment below what your biggest interior design disaster has been (this could be funny!)
  4. You must be an Australian resident
  5. Entries close Friday November 18th at 6pm.
In the interest of full disclosure: I'm not being paid for this in goods or monetary compensation.


  1. Raelene HEWITT says:

    Easily my biggest interior design mistake was the cream carpet in my home that I HAD to have. Everyone told me not to … I didn’t listen! Now it houses many motherhood memories … orange cough mixture, beige foundation and those stains I can’t bring myself to speak about! Never again!

  2. OMG…. We are in the middle of renovating our Bunglalow.. It now has a new name. THE GUEST HOUSE !! My DH has been doing the bathroom for the last 2 weeks, he is very handy. I have just today bought some beautiful mushroom coloured tiles to do the bathroom walls and floors, with a creamy white pebble trim. 2 new windows have gone into our GUEST HOUSE one large picture window which has a view across the nearby mountains and will have a deck outside. And I know people will look forward to staying in here when it is finished as before it was so like yours…. cracks around the windows, leaky roof, a bathroom that was started 11 years ago and went nowhere, not very nice at all. We have a beautiful cream brass bed to go in there and I am about to start panelling the walls with pine panel to about 1 metre high. Thanks to your wonderful ideas I will paint the top half and the ceiling maybe half strength and the pine either full strength or double strength. And if that is your white above it looks exactly what I would like, so might be a goer ! And that beautiful bowerbird cushion would look stunning on the bed….

    lol now off to find out where to put in my disaster story. I think it should be about the BUNGALOW, that was started 11 years ago by my brother – he elevated it on a timber floor so it would be easy to get all the plumbing done…. the plumber arrived and wanted to know what the shower was doing sitting 1 foot up, with a sliding door, but no wall and hence all work stopped. My poor son lived in it for 6 years and came into the house to shower and toilet. Only now when we have finished renovating the house and have no where when there are lots of people staying that my husband of 5 years has started the wonderful job that he is doing. I will upload photos just prior to Xmas of our lovely finished GUEST HOUSE.

    • Hi Anne, Your “Guest House” sounds lovely! Lamarque is a beautiful fresh white paint if you like bright and creamy, another one from Dulux that is lovely and fresh is Napkin White! Good Luck with your long awaited refurb and never call it a bungalow again, lol!
      Cheers, Christy

  3. The biggest mistake we made was saying to the builder … “just do it to lock up, then we will move in and finish as we go” …. 13 years and 3 children later … I still have an ensuite that does not have any tiles (wall or floor), we can use the toilet and hand basin but not the shower or spa bath … A bed room with second hand curtins that don’t match and carpet that was pulled out of somebody elses house and A bathroom with just enough tiles to make it useable

  4. Trina Friend says:

    Letting my husband chose the guest bedroom paint, apricot. I must have been anxious to have my Marigold paint in the Loungeroom and bright blue in the bedroom. The unit was a technicolour monstrosity.

    My colour of choice these days is much more sedate “Rice”.

  5. Karen Iaria says:

    Letting my husband have an opinion!!!

  6. My open plan sitting/dining room – which is the largest part of our house! After ten years and dreams a plenty, there is only ONE picture hanging up (straw bale house) as Hubby has terrified me into submission that if I stuff it up it’s ruined forever! Bare bones abound! Along with a mishmash of Freedom & ikea dinosaurs (100yrs old) and carpet cutoffs…so your beautiful cushion would be the focal point ! haha! But I haven’t even started on the ‘velvet trumpet’ porters paint bedrooms or red ‘japanese’ bathroom! eek what was I thinking! x
    Christy Kemp

  7. No so much a disaster but when we renovated/extended our 4.5sq house to a 20sq house with 2 small children (1 and 4)!!!! we still lived in the house as all the work was happening, For most of the time we had an 18inch gap in the ceiling where the old met the new, no front door, only an old red blanket hanging, which the animals thought was wonderful as they could come and go as they liked at anytime day or night!! and at one stage we had no back wall either, plastic covered this area………………….Oh yeah, it was late autumn and the day we had no front window it snowed on Mt Buffalo. Things you do for space!!!!!!

  8. Not sure if you can say this is an interior design blunder or pure genius but we have a little bungalow out the back which has a toilet attached and when you open the door you first see the loo, well we had just finished our renovations to the house and the front door was being put in. We all stood back (Myself, husband and builder) opened the new front door and looking straight through the new house, through the back doors down onto the backyard, revealing my daughter sitting on the loo in the back bungalow grinning from ear to ear. Did we design the interior of the house to perfection or was it a design stuff up by myself and hubby??

    Not sure if you can call this an interior design disaster but I thought it was good enough for a laugh.

  9. Peeling up the Lino off the cement floor of the kitchen.
    I used every scraping device known to man and then had 3 irons to steam off the paper and glue under the Lino.
    The dissaster being that it took 1 month instead of 1 weekend.

  10. Mandy Ditcham says:

    I could be about to make my biggest disaster (hopefully not!). We are about to get our kitchen updated and I am thinking of going with red cupboards (I love a bit of color) but I’m worried I might regret it. Whenever I go into our main bathroom and see our lovely purple bath I can’t help but think the builders of this house in the 1970s thought the same as me back then and told them selves, “you know I’m thinking of going with a purple bath, I love a bit of color”. What to do??

  11. Christy and I hope you have all picked up some fabulous tips for when you’re next painting. I know I have.

    Keep an eye out for Bowerbird’s next guest post, and don’t forget they will soon be offering the remote consultations so you can email through photos of your room/s and for an affordable price have a consultation complete with paint colours, decorating ideas and even furniture suggestions.

    Congratulations to Anne Browne for winning the gorgeous Linen & Moore Cushion valued at $110! Hopefully it will top off the design in your new guest house.

    • OH WOW !!! I am so excited !. It is actually my birthday today, what a beautiful surprise. Thank you so much ! I will post photos of my lovely Guest House when it is finished, complete with the beautiful cushion !!

    • Hi Christy, not sure where I should be writing this, but I haven’t recieved the cushion yet. I did send my address. 34 Coronation Avenue Bright, but I am not sure if I need to pick it up from somewhere ? Cheers Anne (5755 1583)

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