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The Best Shades for North, South, East or West Facing Rooms

Interior Design Tips

What colour scheme will work for you?

Choosing colour for your home is tricky at the best of times. But trying to figure out which colour works best in your interiors when there’s not much light – or even too much light – in a room can be even harder.

As you’ll have seen in my social media post about Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2023, Wild Wonder, colour really does change depending on the light. In fact, Dulux has made a big deal about it and have really found a colour that works with different lights.

Marianne Shillingford, creative director at Dulux explains it like this:

“Wild WonderTM speaks to us in a language we instinctively understand. Nature is what inspires us and makes us feel better in our lives and in our homes. That’s why, for the first time in 20 years, our entire colour palette is inspired by the rhythms of the natural world

How great is that? 

Wild Wonder from Dulux

ALL colours do this. Change as the light changes. However, not all colours work so well in all lighting conditions. So it’s really important to consider what natural light you get in a room – and when. Really consider where the light falls in your rooms when choosing colours.

Here’s my guide to which paint colours work in which light

What colour for a North Facing Room?:

Usually the trickiest of lights to deal with when designing a colour scheme . Rooms that face north are quite dark and can feel a little cold.  Even if you have floor to ceiling glass, north facing rooms are always going to feel naturally darker. 

As it’s north facing, the light it does get is bluer in tone. This means you need to be careful of anything that is going to accentuate the cooler undertones like bright whites. So, despite the fact you may be trying to brighten the room, avoid bright white!) and stark greys. Opt for a shade lighter than you think you may need in most colours as it will automatically appear darker in north facing rooms. 

That’s not to say you have to only paint your room in light colours and avoid dark colours altogether. You could embrace the ‘cooler light’ room and create a more cosy atmosphere. Down Pipe from Farrow & Ball for example, would add both interest, depth and give a north facing room a gorgeous, cocoon like feeling.

Colours for north facing room. Kind Regards by Coat Paints
Kind Regards by Coat Paints – a griege with yellow and green undertones.

Colours that work in north facing rooms

If opting for a lighter tone, try to avoid any colour that has a green or grey base. Choose a white with yellow or red undertone for example. Neutrals that are warm, off white. Coat Paints Kind Regards will keep some warmth in the room.

Maybe Maggie from Earthborn has a warm yellowy-pink undertone which will counter the cool light in north facing rooms. Or, for a real injection of warmth and colour, Earthborne also has Humpty Dumpty – sunshine in a can!

Blush shades are great in north facing rooms as they have a warm yellow, red or orange undertone. So consider something like Copper Blush from Dulux.

What colour for a South Facing Room:?

Whilst many may think south facing room in interior design is a positive thing – I mean, all that fabulous day light! – it can become a bit overwhelming, particularly in the middle of summer. You need to be careful that your colours are not washed out and avoid anything that is going to be too much.

Similar – but the opposite! – when looking at north facing rooms where a lighter shade is always your go-to, go a shade darker than you think in south facing rooms. You’ll find darker shades of colours like green or dark grey have a less intense feel.

Colours that work in south facing rooms

Cool shades such as blue, green and violet balance the intensity of sunlight. Soft, pale tones like those found in Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Blue or Borrowed Light will work beautifully. Opting for something like Nordic Sky from Dulux will give you a tranquil atmosphere in even the brightest of rooms so ideal for a south facing bedroom. 

If you are looking for white, Coat Paints Pampas Off-White is pretty much pure white in southern light and can make a room really sparkle. Earthborne’s Up, Up Away is a good choice too as its creamy quality is really exaggerated in a south facing room. For something a little more subtle try one of the paler griege colours, again from Coat Paints.

What colour for an East and West facing room?:

The good news is, most colours work well at some point in the day for east and west facing rooms. You do need to remember that artificial light is going to play an important part come evening time (east facing) or early morning (west facing). These rooms are all about considering WHEN in the day you are going to use them most because at some point in the day they get all the best light anyway. Remember that Dulux colour we talked about at the start – that will be perfect in an east or west facing room if it’s the differences in colour you love to see. 

So, if it’s an east facing breakfast room for example you want to make the most of the light in the morning. But if it’s a sitting room that you really only use in the evening, that morning light is not really going to be appreciated anyway, so you would want to look at colours that are better in the cooler evening light than that warmer morning light.

Either way east and west facing rooms are the ones that you really need to get those paint samples and spread them out in the room before you choose. See my video here on how to sample paint properly, but remember to get a sample pot and test out the paint shades on different walls in the room and look at them at different times.

Two paint brushes in a pot of pink paint on a pink background
Make sure you sample your colours before committing to them!

Colours that work in east facing rooms

Getting all its natural light first thing in the morning an east facing room sings to you if you choose cooler colours that have hints of blue, green and violet in. Raspberry Diva or Overtly Olive are two good options from Dulux. I love Theresa Green from Farrow & Ball as it helps keep the warmth of the light even when the cooler evening light is on it. I’ve used it for a client’s east facing bedroom and it was ideal.

Earthborn suggests light green and aqua shades like Shallows or Sapling are ideal for east facing and I have to agree.

Colours that work in west facing rooms

As with east facing, west facing rooms have very different lights dependent on the time of day. With the benefit of early evening light, a west facing room needs to have a colour that doesn’t get washed out too easily so something with a warm tone such as Smoked Trout from Farrow & Ball will make the most of the strong late afternoon light. Although not as dark as north facing rooms which has a cooler light, there still will be less natural light in the morning and this can be helped along with something like Slipper Satin from Farrow & Ball.

For something a little punchier try Can Can or Trumpet from Earthborne – both very different colours but both of which work well in this light. 

If we’re talking about a west facing bedroom, think about warm neutrals so you don’t wake up feeling chilly – The Record Store by Coat paints is a brave, but oh-so-stylish choice for a west facing bedroom. I dare you!

For more colour advice, as well as lots of interior design inspo, don’t forget to follow my Instagram page at crocusinteirordesign or find me on facebook at CrocusInteriors. And, of course, sign up to receive notifications of my latest blog posts and special offers I may be running.

If you want help with your interiors, please do get in touch. To find out more about what interior design services I offer, head over to my Interior Design Services page.

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20 years of Dulux Colour Of The Year!