you’re already ahead of the game if you’re thinking about the best colors for north-facing rooms. The direction a room faces and the resulting quality of the natural light can affect how colors will read, so it’s a good idea to consider this when planning your interior design.
North-facing rooms tend to feature a cooler, fresher light, but how you deal with that is a matter of personal preference. Some people will want to introduce warmth and brightness to their colors to create warm color schemes for north-facing rooms. In contrast, others will look to enhance the more striking look and embrace it with shades from the colder side of the color wheel to create grand color schemes.
To help you decide, we gathered advice and tips from designers on the best colors for north-facing rooms. The good news is there is plenty of room for flexibility and color choice for north-facing rooms. And rules? Well, they’re made to be broken.
What Are The Best Colors For North-Facing Rooms?
Their professional, tried and tested techniques for choosing paint colors will help you identify the best colors for a north-facing room and create an interior design scheme to be proud of.
We recommend getting sample or tester pots of paint to ensure you’re happy with the color in situ and get the desired results, as variations in light levels will give different effects from room to room.
CHOOSE LIGHT, WARM COLORS FOR A NORTH-FACING ROOM
Among the design professionals we spoke to, the most popular approach to decorating north-facing rooms is to use color to counteract the colder light quality, with many designers suggesting warm white paint shades as their go-to. These variations on a soft-white theme will all create an illusion of warmth or at least gently filter the sometimes stark northern light. Additionally, using matt paint finishes will soften the overall effect.
Interior designer Stephanie Brown says, ‘North-facing rooms tend to feel cooler-toned and darker automatically. I recommend offsetting this with light, warm-hued colors. A favorite warm white of mine is Sherwin Williams Origami White.
Hannah Yeo, color marketing & development manager at Benjamin Moore, agrees that choosing light colors is the best way to tackle the muted and toned-down natural light in north-facing rooms. ‘Bright white paint colors with a touch of warmth, like Cotton Balls, White Chocolate, and Powder Sand, are great options to counterbalance the cast of cool tones,’ she says. ‘Or you may want to opt for richer hues, such as Chelsea Gray or Wheeling Neutral, to create a moody yet warm ambiance.’ The Pale Moon shade (pictured) adds buttery warmth and softness in a north-facing space.
French-born, Los Angeles-based interior designer Victoria Gillet often opts to work with cool shades and says, ‘To make the room feel brighter and energetic, consider light and airy colors such as pale yellows or cool blues.’ But she shares her colleagues’ enthusiasm for white paints in a north-facing space. She lists her favorites as Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White, which she says is clean and crisp and enhances natural light for a brighter and inviting feel, and White Dove, with a slightly warmer undertone that adds a touch of warmth to the room. Her third suggestion is Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster, which she advises is versatile and neutral.
Analisse Taft-Gersten, the co-founder of 1818 Collective, advises being very clear about the effect you want to achieve. ‘If it’s just about making a room warmer, then obviously using warmer tones: creams, sands, and earth tones would be a direction I would go. You can also play with the types of paint to bounce off light, like using high lacquers, etc. In some cases, even using wood walls can add warmth to a room,’ she says.
USE RICH SHADES TO CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE
But there’s more to life than warm white, and far from limiting your color choices to those safer paler shades, north-facing rooms can look their best with other decor options, including deeper-toned colors. Darker, richer hues can help to create a real sense of atmosphere.
Interior designer Victoria Gillet agrees and says: ‘North-facing rooms offer flexibility in color choices to create desired effects. For a warm and cozy ambiance, try rich colors like deep reds or dark browns and taupe.’
Charles Cohen, the founder of Charles Cohen Designs, loves to use deeper shades and adds ‘North-facing rooms are a fun opportunity to create a moody space where the color maintains a true tone not manipulated by outside sun exposure. I like using rich tones such as Benjamin Moore’s Briarwood, Night Train, or Bella Blue, and painting walls and trim work in the same color and finish.’
Pay attention to the finish on your north-facing walls – Analisse Taft-Gersten says that texture and color will help create a moody room, so plaster and lime wash finishes will add another layer of interest.
Regarding adding interest, Victoria Gillet advises incorporating texture and patterns for depth and interest, including textured fabric, not just wall color. ‘Also using greenery and natural elements to infuse life, including natural materials in the furniture and decor, think raw wood, live edge, and rock planters. Lastly, use warm accent pieces like rugs, artwork, and decor in earthy, rust, and gold tones.’
AVOID THESE COLORS IN NORTH-FACING ROOMS
If you’re trying to mitigate the low-light levels in a north-facing room, then it’s best to stick to warmer and brighter colors. ‘Avoid heavy, dark hues that may further dim the space due to limited sunlight,’ says designer Victoria Gillet.
Consider also the room’s purpose. Cool tones in a north-facing kitchen are a good fit to promote a feeling of cleanliness and hygiene in a food prep area, whereas the same colors in a north-facing living or dining room might leave you feeling, well… cold. Avoid cold colors and embrace the warmer shades for those more pleasant spaces to create a more cozy, welcoming space.
Ultimately, however, it depends on the desired effect. If you’re embracing the relaxed feel of a north-facing space, a rich dark blue or deep green can be dramatic. If you want a warmer, brighter look, steer clear of those deeper shades.