A SUMMARY of How Exposure & Natural Light Affect Your Room
Unless your room has no windows OR you’re a vampire, you’ve probably had to deal with natural light and exposure when choosing paint colours. And maybe you didn’t even KNOW that it was exposure that was messin’ with yo’ mind as your gray went purple and your beige went green, but let me tell you, exposure is a force to be reckoned with! (I ‘reckon‘ most things with wine, it helps).
Shown here: BM Mount Saint Anne
So, while I’ve written blog posts individually for north, south, east and west facing rooms, as well as rooms with 2 exposures, this post is to give you a simple, meat n’ potatoes summary. If you want to dig a lil’ deeper, I’ve included some great links for you to my other articles which will go more in-depth.
North facing rooms have a gray light coming in that has a subtle hint of blue in it – this means that it’s a cool light.
Shown here: SW Argos
Shown above: BM Steel Wool, see the before and afters here
- It can be slightly easier to pick paint colours for north facing rooms as the light is more consistent throughout the day
- North facing rooms can still be BRIGHT if there are enough windows, but bright doesn’t mean WARM. These rooms will also have fewer shadows to contend with compared to south/east/west
- If you paint a north facing room a cool gray, blue, green or purple, you risk the room feeling DOUBLY as chilly. Painting a north facing room a warm neutral or warm colour can help to balance out the cool light coming in
- It might be tempting to paint a north facing room white, but some whites won’t react as well in a northern space
East facing rooms have a soft, bright light in the morning – maybe fractionally warm and certainly not COLD.
Shown here: BM Collingwood
- As the day progresses, eastern light gets whiter and brighter until noon and can wash-out paint colours at the height of the day
- In the afternoon, east facing rooms become more gray and subdued, acting a bit more like north facing rooms, but maybe not as bright
- East facing rooms often do better with slightly warmer colours. Colours like greige may fall a bit flat in the afternoon
South facing rooms have a warm, yellow-toned light coming in. This light gets warmer/hotter closer to the evening.
Shown here: SW Barcelona Beige
Shown above: SW Wool Skein – see the blog post here
- South facing rooms can make paint colours look washed-out in the middle of the day and can create more shadows
- Painting a south facing room a warm colour will increase the visual warmth of the space. If you paint a south facing room a gray or cool colour, it can help to balance out the warm sunshine coming in the windows
West facing rooms tend to be a bit flat and gray in the morning hours, but once noon hits, things start to lighten and brighten and you may hear the faint sound of Kylie poppin’ a wine cork (hey, it’s 5 o’clock SOMEwhere).
Shown here: BM Silver Marlin
- As the afternoon progresses, the light coming in appears warmer and warmer as the sun gets closer to setting, becoming CONSIDERABLY warmer in mid/late afternoon
- West facing rooms can handle both slightly warm and cool colours, keeping in mind that in the afternoon, SUPER warm colours will only increase in intensity
Room with 2 or 3 exposures
If you have a room with 2 or 3 exposures, it’s actually not a bad thing! When you have only 1 exposure, you are 100% reliant on that particular light throughout the day, whereas multiple exposures can offer some balance to the more extreme ends (ie: extreme north/south).
Read more: The 8 Best Blue-Green Paint Colours
In rooms with multiple exposures, things get tricky to explain as it can depend a lot on which windows are larger and if there is any shrubbery/grass/patio overhang or any other exterior influences that could block the light, so generally speaking:
- If you have 2 or more exposure and ONE of those is either north or south (meaning the others are east or west), you will likely want to focus on the north/south as they tend to the more dominant lights
- If you have an east-west, I would lean toward the warmer end (humour the eastern side) more than the western
- If you have north/south, this is the best mix as you can look at both north and south facing colour options to see which ones best suit your tastes and the interior of your home!
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