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: Benjamin Moore Mount Saint Anne
So, while I’ve written blog posts individually for north, south, east and west-facing rooms, as well as rooms with two 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: Sherwin Williams Pure White
Shown here: Sherwin Williams Argos
Shown above: Benjamin Moore Steel Wool, see the before and afters here
SUMMARY OF NORTH-FACING EXPOSURES
- 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 that is slightly warm, but NOTHING like afternoon western light.
Shown here: Sherwin Williams Pure White
Shown here: Benjamin Moore Collingwood
SUMMARY OF EAST-FACING EXPOSURES
- 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: Sherwin Williams Barcelona Beige
See the blog post HERE
QUICK SUMMARY OF SOUTH-FACING EXPOSURES
- 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: Benjamin Moore Silver Marlin
SUMMARY OF WEST-FACING EXPOSURES
- 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.
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
How to choose paint colours for rooms 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).
E-DESIGN KYLIE M – PHOTOGRAPHY JR PHOTOGRAPHY
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!
Check out my affordable AND fun E-design and Online Paint Color Consulting!
WRITTEN IN 2018, AWESOMELY UPDATED IN 2020