How to Choose Paint Colours for a South Facing (Southern Exposure) Room
A South facing room can be one of the most satisfying rooms to choose paint colours for. Unlike a North facing room, which relies heavily on paint colour and lighting to feel lively, a South facing room feels warm and inviting all on its own as it gets direct infusions of natural sunlight all day long.
(How to choose paint colours for a North facing room here)
Source – Air B n’ B
Just looking at this warm room makes me want to apply more deodorant!
Decorating is about balance and it’s important to balance out the warm and cool levels in your room
The most important (and complicated) thing to remember about a South facing room is that the quality of natural sunlight changes throughout the day. Overall, the light coming is warm and yellow toned, yet it can wash colours out in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. So, a colour that looks ‘just perfect’ in the morning and evening, might appear washed-out in the middle of the day. A colour that looks perfect in the middle of the day might become too bright in the morning and evening. So what do you do?
It is VITAL that you look at your paint colour samples through a full day – or even several days! See which colours hold their own through the hours and which ones wash out. Which colours make the room feel a bit more balanced and which ones make you feel a bit overheated and off-balance.
Now on to the fun stuff!
The 2 Types of South Facing Rooms
Type 1: South facing with a lot of windows
The first type of South facing room has TONS of natural sunlight due to the amount of window space. On hot days, these rooms not only look warm but they ARE warm. Adding a cool colour to this space is a great way to lower the visual heat, making it appear more comfortable and balanced.
Source – Studio B Creative Juice
(This room is an example of a South Facing room that feels a weeee bit off-balance…or a lot)
Well-lit South facing rooms can look good with a light paint colour, keeping in mind that depending on HOW light the colour is, it may appear a bit washed out in the middle of the day.
Medium tones can also work well in a well-lit room and tend to balance intense light quite nicely.
Dark colours can look great as well, especially in the cooler range as the yellow light coming in complements the cool nature of the colour so that it ‘pops’ a bit more.
Type 2: South facing with small windows/minimal light
The other type of South facing room has a lot of natural sunlight, but it may be reduced for a variety of reasons such as these:
- Small windows
- Not enough windows for the size of the room
- The window faces south but there is under a deck overhang
- There is a lot of landscaping directly outside the window
- There are trees blocking the majority of the sunlight from coming in
Without the intense ‘brightness’ of the right type of windows/lighting, these South facing rooms can actually feel a bit more stifling than a well-lit room.
A South facing room with reduced natural light can generally handle light, medium and dark colours.
Light colours work well because they help to perk the room up visually, I particularly like the ones that are in the softer cool range (as shown below) rather than the icier end of things. Light, cool colours add vitality and energy to a space that can sometimes feel a bit heavy with heat. Just keep in mind that if the room doesn’t have much light at all, you might just want to refer to this blog post on dark rooms.
Medium colours can also work well in a South facing room that doesn’t have a ton of light coming in. I find that just like with well-lit rooms, they balance the light quite nicely.
Dark colours can add personality and interest to a room without much light (but still getting some of the visual effects of the warm exposure) – grounding the room and adding an intense balance to the effects of the suns rays. However, be careful to not go too dark. If you truly have one wee tiny little window, you may not have enough natural light to balance out the weight of a very dark colour, particularly if you don’t have adequate lighting.
The Best Paint Colors for a South Facing / Southern Exposure Room
Gray Owl is a lovely soft gray that leans toward the cool side with its subtle green and blue undertones – without committing completely to anything other than gray! Gray Owl is softer and lighter than Stonington Gray which is shown below and has less of a cold blue undertone (because of the green in it).
The LRV of Gray Owl is 65.0. It is going to reflect some decent light back into the room, not tons, but some. This means that at the peak of the day it might lose a bit of its beautiful colour, but once the sun shifts it will come right on back. In a low-light South facing room it should be lovely!
Stonington Gray is a steady light gray that leans to the cool side of things with a slightly stormy feeling blue undertone. Stonington is a light gray paint colour, but it feels a bit heavier than many of the lighter grays on this page.
The LRV of Stonington Gray is 59.0, so it will add SOME, but not TONS of light to your room. This also means that in a super bright room it might hold its colour quite well at the peak of the day.
Grant Beige is undoubtedly one of the more neutral colours on this page. While technically I wouldn’t call it a ‘cool’ colour, in the world of neutrals it really sits right in a happy place with its beige base with a greige undertone. It does lean very slightly to the warm side, but not so much that it will tilt a South facing room off balance.
The LRV of Grant Beige is 56 meaning it really won’t reflect much light into a room at all. So, in a low-light South facing room it won’t make the room feel heavy, nor any lighter. In a well-lit room it will be at the peak of perfection and will possibly neutralize even a bit more.
Courtesy of Southern Hospitality
Rockport Gray is a very neutral gray paint color with a solid brown undertone. Sneaking into that undertone is a muddy taupe and green which stop it from feeling flat, heavy and boring. In a South facing room, the warm yellow light coming in ‘might’ bring out those subtle undertones just a bit more than usual.
Source – Ohara Interiors
This photo is very similar to how Thunder would look in a well-lit South facing room. Thunder is a lovely paint colour, in between light and medium with a very subtle greige undertone.
The LRV of Thunder is 48.0. So while it certainly won’t make your room feel bigger or brighter, it also won’t weight a room down either.
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore Color Chats
Desert Twilight is a lovely medium toned colour with subtle undertones. It has a great visual weight and is a mix of gray with a cool green/brown base, so that it has ‘colour’ in it, but nothing dominant.
The LRV of Desert Twilight is 27.0, so it’s a pretty dense colour. If you have a low light room it might feel a wee bit flat, but not too bad. In a well-lit South facing room it will really work to balance out that warm light coming in and may possibly look a wee bit more green.
Courtesy of Benjamin Moore Colour Chats
Manchester Tan is a beige that sits almost smack-dab in the middle of neutral. And while it can lean to the very slightly warm side it doesn’t over-react in a South facing room. It is very similar to Grant Beige but has a bit more warmth in it and is just a smidge lighter, whereas Grant Beige has a bit more of a gray base hiding in it.
The LRV of Manchester Tan is 63.0. In a really well lit room you might lose a bit of it in the bright light of midday, but overall it will stay pretty much in its happy place.
Source – Avenue B Development (love their site)
Whether it’s a living room, kitchen or bedroom, Wythe Blue is one of those colours that seems to please everyone! Wythe Blue is a cool colour with its blend of blue and green (more blue than green) with a slightly gray base to calm it down. This blend makes it flexible and slightly susceptible to change throughout the daylight hours.
With an LRV of 48, it will add a bit of life to a room but won’t reflect nor absorb any light. It will hold its own quite well in a WELL lit South facing room and won’t get washed out too much at the height of the day. In a room without as much natural light you might notice the colours are a wee bit more vibrant and slightly more green.
Carolina Gull is one of my all-time fave blue/green paint colours. It has a nice blend of blue, green and gray, leaning slightly more the green/gray than the blue. It has a nice earth-toned feeling while still holding onto some colour.
The LRV of Carolina Gull is 27.0, so it’s quite low – particularly compared to some of the more fresh and bright colours on this page. In a well-lit room this won’t be a problem at all and it will add a nice visual weight to the room. In a low-light room it will also be very pretty and perhaps just a bit more rich looking.
Read more: The Best Blue and Green Paint Colours
Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
If you do want a warm colour, but not TOO warm, then check out Gentle Cream. I have an EXTREMELY South facing room and used it and absolutely love it. On a gray day it still feels warm and on a sunny day it doesn’t feel too overwhelming (even when the room is just cookin’).
Well that’s it for now! I do have a few similar post that you might enjoy – be sure to check them out below!
Kylie M Interiors Interior Decorating, Design, Home Staging and Online Color Consultations and E-Design Services Based in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island BC
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