So you want to paint a room white. Sounds easy, until you go to the paint shop and discover there are dozens of whites to choose from.

Many have poetic names – cream, pearl, vanilla, snow, chalk, ivory, jasmine, bone… But the closer you look, the more confusing the choices are. You want a plain, basic white, but the purest white on the colour chart looks a little harsh next to all those shades with just a…