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North, south, east, west... which paint suits best?

Choosing paint colours for a room should be a simple task and usually one of the funnest parts of bringing personality and style into your home. Whether your vision is dark and moody or calm and spacious, the paint colour choices will undoubtedly turn a blank canvas into something special.

Image - Farrow and Ball

However we’ve all been there. The tester looks ok on the wall from the sample… but when the whole room is painted you just can’t put your finger on what isn’t quite right. It might suddenly feel cold and unwelcoming, or that “white” you chose now looks pink and not what you hoped for at all.

The reason for this is natural light and the way it works with the pigmentation within the paints. Brands like Farrow & Ball are renowned for their deep pigments; a blue paint can look like a green just because of what time of day it is (this is why colour matching very rarely achieves the same results as higher end paint brands… but that’s another story!). Depending on which way your room faces, the natural light that comes into the room will undoubtedly have an effect on the paint you’ve chosen... but won’t necessarily have the desired effect that you'd hoped for.


To work out what type of light your room is receiving, locate the windows, grab a compass and find out the direction in which they face.

If your room is North facing…

then the light coming in will be cool and blue which can make the space feel cold and unwelcoming. You can counter balance this by choosing paints that are warm in their hue. Even a white paint with grey or green undertones can make a room feel un-inviting so you’ll perhaps want to choose something with pink or red in there instead. Warm terracottas, rusts and yellows will look great in these interiors.

Paints with warmer undertones will balance cool North light. Image - Lick paints Beige 02 Soho Farmhouse Matt

If your room is South facing…

then it’s the polar opposite. And lucky you, most colours will look great in here! Highly saturated and vivid colours will look really striking. However the room will be flooded with warm yellow light throughout most of the day so you may want to choose something cooler to counterbalance this. Cool blues and eggshells will look beautiful in here. Even violet will help to balance the intensity of the sunlight.

A cool blue isn't so cold in a South facing room. Image - Farrow & Ball. Painted in Borrowed Light No.235 & Hague Blue No.30 | Modern Emulsion; Wimborne White No.239 | Modern Eggshell

If your room is East facing…

then you will have some natural light in the morning. However as the day progresses, it’s likely that the room might feel quite gloomy throughout the rest of the day. Consider when you use the room the most. If you use the room mostly in the morning then something fresh and energising like green will be balanced by the moving sun, and then into the evening you can make achieve an ambience that's really cosy and comforting.

Green is the perfect colour for East facing rooms, for a fresh morning through to cosy evening. Image - Little Greene. Top: Aquamarine 138, Bottom Half: Ambleside 304, Back Wall: Aquamarine – Pale 282

If your room is West facing…

you’ll get plenty of evening sun. During the day it may look quite dull so if you use this room in the first half of the day you may want to choose something brighter and warmer to create an inviting space. As the sun moves round of an evening, you’ll get some beautiful shadows and atmosphere in here. Low evening sun on a pink room with all those shadows... divine.

Warm peachy pinks is the perfect choice for a West Facing interior. Image - Earthborn Paints. Paint is Peach Baby.


If your room doesn’t get any natural light at all, perhaps consider embracing the dark! Think downstairs toilets or hallways… creating a moody, striking space like this is a real statement. For small snugs with clever ambient lighting, it can also create a real sanctuary and a place to switch off.

Remember there are no right answers here, but what have you done in your own home? Worked with the natural light or against it? Comment below and tell us how it worked out for you!


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