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Can I Paint My North Facing Room Gray?

Posted on July 7, 2018 by KylieMawdsley


Can North Facing Rooms Handle a Gray Paint Colour?

OOOOOH, I get this one all the time in my Online Consulting, ‘I have a north facing room, can I paint it gray and get the look I want? Really, you can do anything but what it comes down to is if you SHOULD. It’s about knowing what look you are trying to get and what you are comfortable living in.

Can I paint north facing room gray. Northern exposure home. Kylie M interiors Edesign, online virtual paint colour consultant.

So, let’s start with the basics. North facing rooms have a gray light coming in the windows that is slightly blue-toned. This is a cold light. It is also known to enhance cool colours or neutrals with cool undertones. When you partner a cold space with a cold colour, what do you get? A cold looking room.

Sherwin Williams Silver Strand, gray paint colour review. Kylie M ONline INterior Design and E-design, paint color expert

Now some people don’t mind a cooler vibe, that’s why I can’t definitively say ‘no, don’t paint your north facing room gray’. When we moved into our new home a few months ago, it was painted a soft gray (SW Crushed Ice). Partnered with our DOMINANT northern exposure, the space felt too cold for me. However, we had friends come over who liked the paint colour. Heck, I liked the colour, however, I didn’t like it in our north facing home.

Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray, best gray paint colour with undertones in dining room. Kylie M Interiors E-design, online paint color consulting

Long story short…if you LIKE cold colours and you paint your room gray (knowing that most of the popular gray paint colours have cool undertones), you can expect those subtle undertones to be slightly enhanced. Again, if you like cool colours then this might be a GOOD thing, just keep in mind that your room will LOOK cold and won’t have a traditional ‘inviting and cosy look’. You will have to do a lot of interior work with lighting, texture and accent colours to balance things out.

If you paint a north facing room a cool paint colour, you will have need lighting, texture and accent colours to create balance – moi

Contemporary mix traditional dining room. Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray, wainscoting, chandelier, dark wood floor, coffered ceilings. KYlie M interiors E-design

See the whole open layout here

Now if you like gray, but don’t particularly like a cold look, that’s where things get trickier and you have to find a happy medium between your cold northern light and the ‘natural cool tendencies of gray’ – and that’s where I come in handy. And don’t get yer knickers in a knot when I say that not ALL of these photos show north facing rooms. I rely 110% on my e-design clients photos, so sometimes I just have to use what I have (but most are north).

The Best TYPES of Paint Gray Paint Colours for North Facing Rooms

There are a few different ways to get a grayish look in your north facing room, however, keep in mind, that if you don’t have large enough windows or a good interior lighting plan, there is not a gray or greige that will save you…I’m just going to say that one more time (because I like to hear myself talk).

If you don’t have adequate natural light or interior lighting, there is no gray or greige that will save you – moi

Benjamin Moore Abalone in a guest bedroom wtih cellular blinds, greige carpet and white trim. Kylie M Interiors Color Consulting, E-decor

Warm gray or greige

Warm-toned grays are basically grays with a wee nugget (or more) of brown in them. This bit of brown softens the gray, cuts back the cool tone and adds some subtle warmth…emphasis on the word subtle. Why? Because your north facing room WILL counteract that brown and try to pull it back to the cool side. Which really, isn’t a bad thing if you really want a gray paint colour!

The PERFECT example of this is Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray – it’s a friggin’ NINJA. It is a warm gray/greige, however, put it in a north facing room and DAMN if it doesn’t look gray/blue! Check out this next photo – BOOM, mind blown.

Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray, greige paint colour in north and south facing rooms. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, online paint colour expert. paint review

See more of Agreeable Gray here

Painting your north facing room a warm gray or greige can help to slightly balance out the cool light coming in, but don’t expect any miracles. The northern light will tweak this colour and make it look cooler than it would in a south facing room.

The key is in knowing what to expect and not being surprised with the results

In this next room, we used BM Edgecomb Gray which would have fallen flat in a north facing room with low-light.

Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray is a great greige or gray paint color to lighten and brighten a dark hallway or room by Kylie M Interiors

Read more: Colour Review: BM Edgecomb Gray

Edgecomb Gray is a light greige that is really well-balanced, with an almost creamy looking backdrop.

This next entryway shows SW Anew Gray, which would have felt drab and boring without the beautiful light cast by the chandelier and goes to show, whether it’s outside or interior, the AMOUNT of light you have can make all the difference if you want to use gray!

Sherwin Williams Anew Gray entryway, Greige paint colour, white front door, chandelier and mirror. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, virtual online paint colour consulting. Client before photo

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (14)

Now warm grays and greiges have undertones as well. And while there can be a variety of blends, the general undertones that you’ll find are green and purple (taupe). The other interesting undertone that rises up is blue (as shown with Agreeable Gray). The thing is, in a south facing room the blue isn’t a ‘thing’, however, in a north facing room, some warm grays can pick up a rather unexpected blue tinge that didn’t show up on the small sample – this is the northern light working its magic.

Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray in south facing room. Kylie M Interiors Edesign, client before photo

Read more: SW 10 Best Gray and Greige Paint Colours

Gray with MORE colour in it

This is a trickier one to explain and it’s early – WHERE’S MY WINE COFFEE (sip-sip). Okay, so if gray is a cold colour and you add more undertone to it (ie: blue/green/purple) you’d think it would look even colder, right? Well, kind of. The thing is, colour adds interest and emotion, so adding more colour into the gray can give it some body, which can help to balance out the more ‘uninviting look’ of a cool gray in a northern space.

Sherwin Williams Network Gray with black armoire and cherry toned red laminate flooring in south facing living room with white trim. Kylie M Interiors E-design and Online consulting - edecor

Read more: SW Network Gray Colour Review

Shown above, Network Gray is a great example of a gray with a bit more undertone/colour to it than other gray paint colours.

Add even more colour (below), and you’re looking at something like BM Stonybrook, which has considerably more colour, while still having a soft, subtle approach. Again, this is not going to save the DAY in a north facing room – but it will certainly help if you’re hell-bent on a cool colour.

Best blue gray paint colour. Benjamin Moore Sea Pine, Stonybrook, Ikea bookshelves and accent chair. Cream white wainscoting. Kylie M E-design

Read more: A More Colourful Country Farmhouse Paint Palette

So there you have it. So CAN you paint your north facing room gray? It’s up to you, just don’t be surprised if it’s not as warm and inviting as you were expecting!


Check out my affordable and fun E-Design packages! 

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (21)

Chat soon,

Kylie M Interiors, decorating blog, e-design, online colour consulting expert. signatureREAD MORE:

The Best Paint Colours for a North Facing Room

The 10 Best Sherwin Williams Gray and Greige Paint Colours

The 9 Best Benjamin Moore Gray and Greige Paint Colours

The 8 Best Blue-Green Paint Colours



  1. This is super interesting! Our house in mainly north facing but have double exposure in most rooms. We just painted Rockport Gray in our mainly North facing (with one west facing window) and we love it! It changes throughout the day but gives the look we were after and doesn’t feel remotely cool at any point, but that is probably due to the fact that it’s not really a fresh and crisp looking gray!

  2. Our home actually faces east however we have a lot of trees and all of the windows on the back of our home have solar screens which really darken the home (Texas necessity!) My home is very open and currently painted SW latte. I really want a more light and bright modern farmhouse feel. I love Repose, Agreeable and Worldly Grays however when I put them on my walls to test today, they all pull blue and don’t look as beautiful as when I see them in photos. Am I going for the wrong colors?!

    1. Post

      Hi Katie, it sounds like you are and that your eastern light is pulling them into the more gray-blue range, which isn’t uncommon for those types of grays. Sounds like you might want to warm things up a bit to balance that off, go to the warmer greiges or beiges that lean a bit gray!

      1. Thank you very much Kylie! I’m also wondering if it is because I painted over my Latte walls so that my indecisive self could see the real deal before I pulled the trigger. I did 2 coats (I took your recommendations and painted on white boards first and the colors don’t pull as blue as the wall samples when they’re in the same location ) have you heard that primer helps the true color display?
        Any warmer griege/beige that lean gray that are your favorites? Thanks again, LOVE your blogs!!

  3. Hi Kylie,

    You are the color guru, wow a lot of great info here! Are you familiar with BM hazy skies? What is the LRV of this color? Iam contemplating this color for a southwest room and wonder what you think of this colors LRV?I Started with gray mirage but figured this would be a safer bet! Would love to know the LRV’s of these two colors and if you are familiar with them in a bright space and how they reflect? Thanks Kylie, I love your videos, very resourceful!

    Carole B from , NB

  4. Hi Kylie,

    I’m trying to pick a gray for my open kitchen/family room. The kitchen gets more light than the family room. Both rooms face northeast (all I’m reading are rooms that face 1 direction).

    Anyhow, I bought several samples and painted them on the walls in both rooms (I figured this way I’d have to paint & quit putting it off). I thought I wanted Repose but it looked white on my already light tan walls. Then I tried Dorian but it was too dark on the walls that don’t get much light. I moved on to Requisite & Mindfu,l & Requisite has a slight purplish tone to it I think. I always thought I might like Silvermist for an accent wall in the kitchen but it looks blue on the already mustard yellow walls.

    After I all this, I read somewhere to try painting poster boards and moving them around for different light effects. When I put these colors on the boards, the Silvermist magically looks more green like I was expecting it to and the grays appear more neutral & colored (Repose no longer looks white). I asked the guy at SW and he said the paint sample on the wall should be true to color. I hadn’t tried the poster board at that point. Then I read that your eyes can pull colors from adjacent colors (existing wall color) and that using a poster board with the white around the edges will separate that for you.

    I am soooooo confused right now! Are the poster boards more accurate or the samples painted on the wall more accurate? I’m scared to death I’m going to go with the wrong color and end up wasting thousands having my whole house painted. Please help!!!!

  5. Hi Kylie,
    I love your information! I love the Collingwood paint that you talk about by BM, but I don’t have a dealer near me, would Behr paint be a match ( I know you have said before the sheens are different) I’m looking for my kitchen and family room. I feel I have learned so much about paint from you!

    1. Post

      Hi Kim! Unfortunately, I don’t deal much with Behr, they don’t have quite the range that SW and BM have. Taking a quick look at my deck that I have, Burnished Clay is similar, albeit a bit softer (and I can’t really speak to its undertones on a large scale as I’m just not familiar with it). I would say it has a wink more gray/purple in it, so it’s not quite a warm as Collingwood. MOth Gray has way too much pink/purple in it. So yes, I’d say Burnished Clay would be the closest. That being SAID, ask Home Depot (assuming that’s your Behr dealer) if they have BM Collingwood in their computer system. If they do, they can mix it up for you!

  6. Oh my goodness. Finally, I have answers. My upstairs bath faces north. Every single gray I have ever attempted to use in there (and there have been several!!!) pull cool and look blue or purple. Now I know it’s the north light doing this to me!! I want a ‘warm’ gray in there. I’ve tried repose, Anew, agreeable, Dorian. Any color suggestions for a warm/non purple/non blue gray for this space?
    Thank you!!

    1. Post

      Hi Stephanie! Well, that would only leave you with one option – green undertone (as you have to pick one). And even then, with northern light, ANY gray can flash any of the undertones. Take a look at SW Collonade Gray, Worldly Gray, and BM Revere Pewter, see if they feel any better 🙂

  7. Hi Kylie ,
    First of all i think you are doing a great job out there so keep going.
    The thing is i have a small open space home with adequate north west lighting and i don’t know how should i paint it.Dulux’s Polished Pebble was about fine most of the day but it catched a slight lilac hue to it during the night and Farrow and Ball’s Ammonite had a slight sepia hue to it during the day but changed to a truest gray in the night.
    What do you think i should go for?Any recommendations?My sofa is a deep cool gray,my whole kitchen and kitchen table(Saarinen) are glossy white and the cabinets too.

  8. My bedroom is south facing however I have tinted windows. Do you think having the tinted windows i need to treat is as north facing?

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