7 Great Colours for a North Facing or Northern Exposure Room
Have you ever walked into a room and gotten the chills? Even a room that is ‘well-decorated’ can look cold and uninviting if not enough attention is paid to it’s exposure.
A north facing or northern exposure room will not get any direct sunlight throughout the day which means that it won’t benefit from the warmth (visual and physical) that natural sunlight offers.
There are 2 types of north facing rooms
- Low natural light: These rooms have windows that face north and the windows are likely smaller. They might also have reduced light due to an overhang/patio above the window or dense landscaping that blocks the sky.
- Bright natural light: These bright north facing rooms tend to have large or multiple windows with no patio/landscaping blocking the flow of the natural light. But beware, just because these rooms are ‘bright’ doesn’t mean they are warm feeling.
Northern light can wash out paint colours
Low Light North Facing Room: North facing rooms have a grayish light with a subtle blue cast. A north facing room without much natural light can suffer not only from being more shadowed, but by having to deal with the gray undertone of the natural light that is offered – giving the room a more shadowed and cold look.
Bright Light North Facing Room: A north facing room with A LOT of natural light will have the same grayish cast, but will at least have the support of ‘light’ to counteract the shadows. However, the natural light itself can slightly wash out paint colours due to the gray nature of the light.
Warm colours will help create balance in a north facing room. Cool colours are great accents.
To counteract that cold, gray exposure, Designers often use warm paint colours as they will help to create some balance in the visual temperature of the room. While cool colours can be great accents, generally speaking, too many cool tones can double the effect of the already cold exposure and add to the chill of the space.
The Best Paint Colours for a North Facing Room
Benjamin Moore Antique Yellow OC 103
Antique Yellow is a beautiful, light and warm paint colour. Yellow is one of the few colours that really reflects light back into a room and the gray tones of the northern light can help to calm the reflective nature of yellow down to create a warm and restful balance.
- Antique Yellow can work in a low-light or well-lit room
- The LRV of Antique Yellow is 81.0 – pretty darned high! In a well-lit room it might wash out a bit, but once the sun goes down it will go back to its former glory
- For a lighter look, check out Benjamin Moore Navajo White
Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
Gentle Cream is rich enough to add some visual warmth to a space without being so light and creamy that it gets lost in the shadows (as it is considered a ‘light’ colour). The yellow/orange base of this heavy cream will help to balance out cool northern light – without looking overly yellowish on your walls. In a north facing room the undertones will be a bit less obvious than in a south facing room and it will act like a warm, but neutral feeling paint colour – keeping in mind the undertones/colour will come out a bit more once the sun goes down.
- The LRV of Gentle Cream is 71.0 (Read more about LRV)
- Personally, I’ve used Gentle Cream in my home in both north and south facing rooms and LOVE it in both!
Benjamin Moore Powell Buff HC 35
Powell Buff is a great choice for a north facing room. It leans more towards the medium end of things, without going full-tilt. It has such a lovely balance of yellow and orange undertones – tempered by a neutral beige base, making it flexible and fun to decorate with!
- Powell Buff is like a super subdued and grounded gold as the neutral base takes over the yellow and orange. But don’t expect it to be boring, it still has lovely warm undertones.
- The LRV of Powell Buff is 59. Great for a well-lit room and will help a darker room feel cozy and warm! Not sure what LRV is? Read about it here.
Source Design Ties
This photo is a great example of how neutral you can expect Powell Buff to go. Normally you will see more of the orange/yellow colour coming through.
Benjamin Moore Decatur Buff HC 38
As shown in this STUNNING kitchen below, Decatur Buff is a rich and warm colour without committing 100% to any particular colour.
Decatur Buff is a rich gold colour, having both yellow and gold in it – tempered by a neutral base. And while it does have a weeee smidge of green to be aware of, it still holds a beautiful golden tone in any room.
- One of the more striking warm colours on this page, Decatur Buff is also the most dense with an LRV of 40. Great for a well-lit room and rich and cozy for a darker space.
Source Main Street Design Build
Benjamin Moore Grant Beige HC 83
Grant Beige can work in a WELL-LIT north facing room as long as you aren’t looking for an overly ‘warm’ look. While Grant Beige is ‘beige’ it has a very neutral, almost greige (but not quite) undertone, particularly in a north facing room.
- Grant Beige is the most ‘modern’ colour on this page with its cool beige feeling
- With an LRV of 56.0 it will do well in a well-lit room, but in a dark room it without enough artificial lighting it might feel a bit flat
Source Aust Architect
Benjamin Moore Split Pea 2146-30
Yep, it’s green! Normally you’d want to steer away from cool colours in a north facing room, however, Split Pea is a green that has a strong yellow undertone which makes it warmer than your average green. You can use this colour throughout the whole room or choose to make it a feature wall along with Gentle Cream or Indian White.
- Split Pea is one of the more ‘fun’ colours on this page with it’s funky green style
- The LRV of Split Pea is 39, the glory of Split Pea is really felt in a room with just enough natural light – not to bright, not too dark
- The gray nature of northern light may dull this colour slightly…but not by much
Via Painters Place
Via Visual Jill
And if you’re DETERMINED to paint your walls a cool blue toned colour….
Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue HC 144
And while I generally shy away from cool colours in a north facing room, there IS one exception…Palladian Blue. Now from the looks of the amazing room below, it seems to have multiple exposures helping it out, but nothing extremely warm feeling. This is why it’s a great example of what you might be able to expect from Palladian Blue in a north facing room.
Why can Palladian Blue work where other cool colours fail? Palladian is a beautiful blend of blue/green/gray, and even though green is ALSO a cool colour, when paired with blue it can make for a warmer and more inviting look!
- This colour will be at its best in a north facing room with moderate or ample natural light
- Any cool colour in a north facing room will need to be supplemented with warm wood tones and texture (you really should visit Becca to see more photos of this fab room and how she jazzed things up!).
Source Adventures in Decorating (love this gal)
Read more: The 8 Best Blue Green Paint Colours
Not sure which colour is best for you? Check out my affordable Online Color Consulting Services!
If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more please consider Subscribing for ‘quasi-weekly’ FREE updates and you might enjoy these posts…
Here's some other ideas for you!