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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!