Flooring choices for your white-walled space

Published: July 14, 2023 Quick Step Palazzo Fossil Oak Matt 768 by 768

Whether you’re trying to decide what flooring to choose with existing painted walls or you’re working on a complete material scheme, selecting the right flooring to compliment white walls can be a tricky task. It is important to understand no two whites are the same, with varying undertones which can impact your flooring (and other material) selection decisions. Of course, personal preference, budget, practicality and suitability also come into play. With white walls being the go-to for many Australian homes, here are our thoughts on teaming the common paint colour back with your new flooring.

Understanding different whites

White is not just white, there are so many slight variations and differences in each particular colour which can feel confusing to the untrained eye! White is a popular paint choice for good reason. It’s fresh and bright, it’s flexible within a broader scheme and it’s a relatively safe colour to choose in terms of personal taste, resale and appeal.

White paint has different levels of the base colour in each, meaning some are cool (black, blue, undertones, for example) and some are warm (brown or yellow undertones, for example). The levels of natural light in a home as well as the material of the walls also come into play. It doesn’t end there. White paint can also change in appearance with the finish too. Gloss, matt and textured paints will all appear differently. Try to dissect what paint features exist if you’re not repainting. Ask yourself is it cool or warm? Does it feel like it “throws” a particular colour like grey, pink or purple, for example?

If you’re starting from scratch and choosing all your materials at once, like in a renovation or new building design, ask yourself what style are you drawn to. Do you want the palette to feel cool, fresh and contemporary or are you hoping for something more warm, intimate and inviting? Consider the natural light as well, all of this will impact your scheme.

Wellington_White_River_Oak_612x420 Wellington in "White River Oak"

Working flooring into a broader palette

Flooring and walls are two of the biggest visual elements of home design and this should be kept in mind when making selections. If floors are the only thing being updated you will need to think about how it can complement and coordinate with what is existing to feel as though it flows. Is the paint colour warm? A warmer floor palette will feel tonal while a cooler floor palette will contrast and feel contemporary. Bring a sample home and lay it next to the wall and observe over the day. Sometimes it will surprise you. The colour of the flooring may throw the paint colour off slightly. That’s why it’s important to see samples in situ.

Consider how you want the room to feel and what the new flooring will contribute- and- always see a flooring sample in the room if you’re unsure. Warm whites are easier to work with in some ways. They will work back with oak, darker warm timbers and warmer carpet threads easily. They also balance out the cooler flooring colours too.

Dundee in "Ninewells"

Wet areas & family spaces

Regardless of the style or architecture of your home, these commonly used areas are the real workhorses of the house. Flooring must, of course, complement your other materials and finishes, but it also should be practical and suit your/ your family’s lifestyle. These spaces are often white, whether it be white walls or white tiles on the bathroom wall. How do you want these spaces to feel? Flooring will play a big role in the overall ambience. Hybrid flooring and some laminate flooring are waterproof so you may be finding you’re teaming back with white tiles in wet areas. The same thoughts apply here and white tiles come in all sorts of finishes and warm and cool tones.

If you’re blessed with lots of natural light you can choose warm or cool flooring to work back with your white walls. Sometimes cool walls and cool flooring together may feel a bit stark (such as grey floors with cool white walls)- but this can be changed with fabrics, rugs and other layers of varying textures. If you struggle with natural light at home, leaning towards lighter floors and walls makes sense. However, warm white walls can also compensate for a lack of natural light and will sit back beautifully with both warm and cool floors (depending on the undertone colour). Personal preference comes into play and make sure to be true to your style!

7737_Merseyside_Classic_Dukes_LS_laundry 612x420 Merseyside Classic in "Dukes"

Bedrooms and cosier areas

Generally, bedrooms and sitting rooms, libraries and studies are more cosy and an intimate style is desired. Warm white walls work well here and will coordinate with a range of flooring colours. Understand the undertone of the white walls and choose your flooring accordingly. Rich flooring colours can be tricky to coordinate so be sure to try a range of samples to ensure it feels right.

Noosa Rug in "222 White"

Budget and other considerations

White walls are incredibly common in Australian home design and they are practical in the sense that everything works well with them (although they do mark easily!). A mid-range coloured floor (such as Australian species hardwood, oak vinyl floors etc) is a good place to find a practical colour. Very dark flooring and white flooring can show marks a little easier. Timber-look vinyl flooring or hybrid are particularly practical and easy-care  materials. Where carpet is concerned, choose something with a fleck or multiple thread colours in a practical fibre, like solution dyed nylon. Whether it be hard flooring or carpet, there are options for all spectrums of the budget. Talk to a Flooring Xtra member if you have a particular budget in mind.

Teaming white walls with your flooring can feel like a daunting task as there are no clearly defined guidelines and such a broad range of both materials available. Understanding that no two whites are the same and trying to define the undertones of the paint is a great place to start. Playing with and observing samples in your own home will also give you some confidence in your decision-making. If in doubt, always know there’s a Flooring Xtra store near you with someone excited to lend a hand!

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Want some expert advice?

From inspiration to installation and beyond, Flooring Xtra are here to help. If you’re uncertain what product will work best in your home or fit your budget the team are delighted to assist. Choosing new flooring is a big decision so whether it’s hard flooring or carpet you’re looking for, know that Flooring Xtra will have the perfect option for you! VISIT your nearest store