North, East, South, West – what to do when you have 2-3 exposures!
Just when you thought picking a paint colour couldn’t get any harder, you have to deal with your room’s exposure. And if you have a room with windows on different walls, you won’t just have one exposure, you’ll have two or even THREE exposures to battle with. But let me add that personally, I would only expose myself ONCE – and then I would run like mad.
And while I’ve written a blog post for each exposure (north, south, east, west), as well as a fantastic summary of all four, I haven’t really gotten into DUAL exposures for you – so that’s what we’re doing today!
The first thing you’ll want to do though is to take a look at your room and consider the following:
- Which exposure has priority? This will be the one with the biggest windows and/or the one that doesn’t have any type of hedge/trees blocking the direct flow of natural light. If some of your windows are blocked by greenery, this will DIRECTLY AFFECT the quality of light coming in (and can add a weeee willy wink o’ green to your walls)
- What are your preferences? If you have competing exposures, you might be dealing with both warm AND cool colours when it comes to your paint options. You might want to think about which end of the colour wheel you prefer and which exposure that relates to
Now, if you need to brush up on the details re: your exposures, check out these links here before going ahead…otherwise, let’s get going!
Summary of Exposures: North, East, South, West, which paint colour is the best?
A Room with North and West Facing Windows (NW)
Cool light with a touch of warmth in the afternoon
A room with both north and west exposures will have a cool gray light throughout the entire day. In the morning, this will be joined by an additional kind of flat, light (west morning) and in the afternoon, can be somewhat balanced out by the warm western rays coming in, depending on how large the west-facing windows are.
Shown above: Sherwin Williams Collonade Gray
- If the northern windows are smaller and the western light plays a bigger part, I would look at both north and west facing colours and see which one settle the best and suit your tastes/interior, keeping in mind that even though western light is bright in the afternoon, it’s pretty flat in the morning
- If your windows are similar in size or the northern is larger, then I would focus more on north-facing options
A Room with North and East Facing Windows (NE)
Cool gray, slightly brighter in the morning, back to cool gray in the afternoon
A room with both north and east exposures will have that cool gray light allllll day. In the morning, this light will be softened and brightened and warmed up a bit by the eastern light. This morning light will begin to wash things out at the height of the day (depending on how big the window is). In the afternoon, the east-facing light will be comparable enough to the north-facing light in its lack of warmth.
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Lenox Tan
- I would give priority to the north-facing light (only by a bit), as long as windows are the same size or larger than the east-facing ones. These means you’d want to focus on paint colours for north facing rooms
- If the exposures are ‘equal opportunity’ exposures, then I would look at the options for both north AND east and see which ones suit your personal tastes the best! Just keep in mind that the north-facing light might slightly gray out your paint options, which is important in the cooler range
Read more: Can I Paint My North Facing Room White?
A Room with South and West Facing Windows (SW)
Warm…on warm…on warm
In rooms with both south and west-facing windows, you’ll have the warm southern light throughout the day and the extra warm light in the west-facing afternoon. This room will be cosy and inviting but COULD become a bit TOO toasty if you overdose on the warm paint colours as well.
The flatter, west-facing morning light will soften things in the morning hours with its lack of sunshine. This will balance off the warmth and brightness of the southern exposure, but as you get close to noon, this type of light can really wash out colours – but only temporarily! In the afternoon, the western light will ADD to the warm glory of the southern light, making this room roasty-Mc’toasty!
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Steel Wool
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray
- If your windows are similar in size, or even if the south-facing are slightly bigger, then I would look at both south AND west options and see which ones best suit your tastes, keeping in mind that any warmer options will feel that much warmer with the southern light
- If the southern light plays a smaller part in the lighting scheme, I would focus more on west-facing paint colours, but check out south too and see which best suit your tastes/interior finishings
A Room with South and East Facing Windows (SW)
Warm light all day tempered by a soft eastern influence to calm it down
A room with windows on the southern and eastern walls will generally speaking, be a warm looking room. The morning eastern light will be brighter with a soft warmth (I love morning eastern light). As the day progresses that southern light will heat right up and can wash paint colours out at the height of the day, but have no fear, once that midday sun shifts, things will come back. The more flat afternoon eastern light can help to soften the super warm southern rays throughout the rest of the day.
Sherwin Williams Silverplate
Sherwin Williams Cyberspace
- I would focus on the east-facing option, to offer a bit of balance, particularly in the afternoon, however, there could be some equally as lovely southern options if you just love those cool tones!
Let’s take a quick break to talk about paint samples…
Undoubtedly, you’ll be heading out in the near future to grab paint samples – stop right there! I want you to check out SAMPLIZE. Samplize offers peel and stick paint samples that are more AFFORDABLE, EASIER and more ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than traditional paint pots. Here are just a FEW reasons why I recommend Samplize to my clients…
- Samples arrive ON YOUR DOORSTEP in 1-3 business days, depending on location
- At $6.99, they’re more affordable than the samples pots/rollers/foam boards that are needing for traditional paint sampling
- If you keep the samples on their white paper, you can move them around the room
Visit the SAMPLIZE website HERE
A Room with North and South Facing Windows (NS)
A beautiful mix of cool gray light and warm yellow light all…day…long
A room that has windows on the southern wall AND the northern wall will have warm, yellow light in the south end and cool gray/blue light in the northern end – mixing in a hot mess in the middle. This is found quite often in rooms with a living room at one end and a dining room at the other.
- In this case, you could pay the most attention to your PERSONAL PREFERENCES! If you don’t like cool paint colours, then you may want to focus on colours that suit a northern exposure (warm colours). If you aren’t a fan of WARM colours, you may want to focus on the paint colours that best suit a SOUTH facing space (cool colours).
- Or you can find a happy place in the middle with a beautiful greige paint colour that nods a bit to both ends of your room!
Do you have a room with THREE exposures?
Well for this bad boy, again, I would focus on the dominant exposure, so the one that has the most windows on it and is either north or south facing.
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter
North and south-facing lights are more consistent throughout the day, more so than eastern or western which change a lot from morning to afternoon, which is why I would give north/south the priority. If you have north and south with either east or west, refer back to the ‘north/south’ section.
And all of that being said, if you are CONFUSED, you know who to call…the Ginga Ninja.
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