An interior expert reveals the one room you should never paint white

And you'll be surprised

White paint is a failsafe that will work in every room. But according to interiors expert Kate Watson-Smyth, this is anything but true. 

Related: An interior expert reveals the one thing you should never do when painting your walls

We all have that small dark room, we are desperate to make look bigger and brighter. However, using white paint can make the problem worse, rather than better. 

Speaking to Ideal Home on behalf of Barclays Mortgages (opens in new tab), Kate revealed why you should never use white paint in a small dark room. 

attic white bathroom with bathtub

(Image credit: Jake Fitzjones)

'If you've got a small dark room, the temptation is often to paint it white,' says Kate. 'White needs natural light to reflect off itself, bounce more light around. 

'If you've got a small dark room with no window or a very small window, you're not going to get enough natural light in there for the white to do its job.'

Instead of defaulting to a light colour, Kate recommends thinking carefully about the purpose of the room, and when you're going to use it. 

'If it's a small dark room and you have a choice not to be in there during the day you won't be in there. Therefore it is probably a room you use in the evenings,' she explains. 'Embrace the dark.'

hallway with grey wall and white staircase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

'Be courageous. You can put light furniture in it, put a pale rug in it. You can place mirrors and light it well. But make it deep, dark, dramatic and cosy.' This dark grey hallway idea is a stylish example of this, with white painted stairs, skirting boards and pale furniture contrasting with the deep, dramatic wall colour.

However, if it is a room you will need to be using during the daytime, Kate suggests opting for a pale colour instead of white. 

'If you need to use that room in the day time, and you need to really try and encourage its lightness, don't go for white,' she explains. 'Go for a pale colour, so a very pale pink, blue or green.'

To help create the illusion of a larger space make sure you paint everything. That means the woodwork, the ceiling, the doors and the walls. 

white bedroom with blue bed and and plant pots

(Image credit: Ti-Media)

'This will blur the edges, and it will cocoon the whole space,' Kate explains. 'It will not draw attention to all four corners of the room outlined in white paint.'

'That is the best thing you can do. That will make it feel calmer because it is all the same colour and it is not distracting the eye.'

You just need to take one look at Kate's Instagram account @madaboutthehouse (opens in new tab)to to know that she is an expert in transforming a space with a tin of paint. 

Related: The best white paint – how to choose the right shade for your walls

So you've been warned. Step away from the white paint.

Rebecca Knight
Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend.