The 9 Top Paint Colours for a North Facing Room
Have you ever walked into a room and gotten the chills? Even a room that’s well-decorated can look cold and uninviting if the exposure has been ignored, which happens ALL the time – and I’m here to put a stop to it.
A north-facing or northern exposure room will not get any direct warm sunlight throughout the day, which means that it won’t benefit from the visual warmth that natural sunlight offers.
The Two Types of North-Facing Light
1. NORTH-FACING ROOMS WITH LOW NATURAL LIGHT
North-facing rooms with low light most often have windows that are small. However, the low light can also be caused by an overhang/patio above the window, close neighbour or dense landscaping that blocks the natural light from coming in.
North-facing rooms naturally have a grayish light with a subtle blue cast. A north-facing room without much natural light can suffer not only from being more shadowed but by having to deal with the gray undertone of the natural light that is offered – giving the room a more shaded and cold look. And be sure not to confuse ‘shadows’ (which need sunlight) with shaded – shaded means grayed-out.
2. NORTH-FACING ROOMS WITH A LOT OF NATURAL LIGHT
Bright north-facing rooms tend to have large or multiple windows with no patio/landscaping blocking the flow of the natural light. But beware, just because these rooms are ‘bright’ doesn’t mean they’re warm looking.
This next photo shows a room with a pretty warmth – but that’s courtesy of the light bulbs, not the exposure! Look at the room to the right of it and you’ll see the cool cast of the natural, northern light coming in.
A north-facing room with A LOT of natural light will have the same grayish cast, but will at least have the support of ‘light’ to counteract the gray cast and brighten things up. However, the natural light itself can slightly wash out (gray out) some paint colours due to the colour of the light, while slightly enhancing cool tones such as blue, green and purple.
You can also have a north-east facing room or a north-west facing room (seriously, it never ends). These rooms are ninjas and can change their look throughout the day as the sun shifts from east-west.
Northern light can wash-out some paint colours
To counteract that cold, gray exposure, Designers often use warm paint colours as they create balance in the visual temperature of the room. While cool colours can be great accents, generally speaking, too many cool tones can double the effect of the already cold exposure and won’t add any balance or warmth.
Warm colours will help create balance in a north-facing room
The Best Paint Colours for a North Facing Room
1. Benjamin Moore Navajo White OC-95
Navajo White is a light, warm cream paint colour. Cream is a yellow paint colour with a neutral base added to calm it down. Northern light can ‘calm down’ the degree of yellow in a cream paint colour, while the remaining yellow can help to counteract the northern light a bit and that’s EXACTLY what would happen with Navajo White!
- Navajo White will wash-out a bit on a really well-lit wall (as shown in the above photo), but hold itself really well in average light. In a darker room, it will add warmth but will need some artificial light to come to life
- The LRV of Navajo White is 78, meaning it’s an off-white. Not sure what LRV is? You shouldn’t pick a paint colour WITHOUT it (read more HERE)!
- In a south-facing room, expect Navajo White to look warmer/more yellow than it does above
2. Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
Gentle Cream is rich enough to add some warmth to your space without weighing it down as it’s still in the light range of paint colours. The yellow-orange base of this heavy cream will help to balance out your cool northern light, without looking overly colourful on your walls.
In a north-facing room, the undertones will be a bit less obvious than in a south-facing room and it’s more likely to settle like a warm, but neutral looking paint colour – keeping in mind the undertones/colour will come up a bit more once the sun goes down (Elton John style).
- The LRV of Gentle Cream is 71.0, putting Gentle Cream in the ‘light’ range (Read more about LRV)
- Personally, I’ve used Gentle Cream in my home in north and south-facing rooms and LOVED it in both!
3. Benjamin Moore Lenox Tan HC 43
As shown in this beautiful farmhouse living room below, Lenox Tan is a rich golden beige paint colour, tempered by a neutral earthy-base which helps it come across more NEUTRAL vs golden.
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- One of the more striking warm colours on this page, Lenox Tan is also the heaviest with an LRV of 43. Great for a well-lit room and rich and cosy for a darker space
- In the above living room, we lightened it by 25%, just to account for the fact that the room was north-facing and had a patio overhang outside blocking the light
4. Benjamin Moore Grant Beige HC 83
While Grant Beige is one of the more popular warm tan paint colours, it’s very muted and subtle in its approach. It can be a great happy medium if you aren’t jazzed about the more golden approach of Lenox Tan or Gentle Cream but don’t want to dive into the greige end of things.
Grant Beige can work in a WELL-LIT north-facing room as long as you aren’t looking for a TYPICAL warm look and crave some neutral action.
- In the center of the above photo notice the hint of green. This shows you how susceptible some neutrals are to picking up reflections – that’s the green landscaping outside the window! That being said, Grant Beige CAN pick up a very vague green
- Grant Beige is the most ‘modern’ colour on this page with its slightly cool tan look
- With an LRV of 56.0, it will do well in a well-lit room, but in a dark room without enough artificial lighting, it might fall a bit flat
Click HERE or on the above image to see packages!
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
5. Benjamin Moore Northampton Putty HC 89
Northampton Putty is a rich warm beige colour with a subtle golden-green undertone (it’s super wicked). It has enough warmth to offset some of those gray shadows without going overly colourful.
- Northampton Putty has an LRV of 33, so it has a nice weight to it
6. Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray HC 173
Edgecomb Gray is a beautiful blend of gray and beige with an almost creamy undertone. Along with Grant Beige, it’s another interesting option for those of you wanting a more neutral-greige look, but are afraid of your room looking cold.
In a north-facing room, you CAN expect it to lean MORE to the gray side than the creamy beige, but it shouldn’t pick up the blue-green undertones that a lot of greiges can in a north-facing room.
- Edgecomb Gray has an LRV of 63, so it might be a stitch too dark and neutral for a north-facing room that isn’t well-lit, so make sure it’s light and bright!
And there are MANY other colours that I’d throw in a north-facing room – that’s just a small sampling to get you on the right track. However, you might have noticed that they are ALL warm colours. If you’re absolutely DETERMINED to paint your north-facing room a cool paint colour, here are a few I might humour…
7. Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue HC 147
Why can Wythe and Woodlawn work where other cool colours fail? Wythe is a beautiful blend of blue-green-gray (pretty balanced). Woodlawn Blue is a blue-gray with a wink of green in it. And even though blue and green are BOTH traditionally cool colours, when you add green to blue – it can look warmer and softer! So, schlong story short, if I were to pick a blue for a north-facing room, I would pick a blue with green in it.
Read more: The 8 Best Blue Green Paint Colours
- These colours will be at their best in a north-facing room with ample or at least moderate natural light
- Any cool colour in a north-facing room will need to be supplemented with warm wood tones and texture
8. Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter HC 172
You can also take a look at Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter, which is a WARM colour, but definitely the most ‘gray’ on this page.
Revere Pewter is a light warm gray with an earthy green undertone. In a south-facing room, it is more inclined to lean into its warmth. However, in a north-facing room, it’s more likely to lean back into gray a bit and the odd time can pick up the other cool gray undertones.
- Revere Pewter has an LRV of 55.1, so it’s really closer to the light-medium range as it has a good body to it. For this reason, I would be more inclined to use it in a reasonably well-lit north-facing room vs a dark one
9. Benjamin Moore Gibraltar Cliffs 1587
Gibraltar Cliffs is one of my favourite paint colours. However, it is a bit better as a FEATURE wall, rather than an overall wall colour unless you want the cold-on-cold look.
Gibraltar Cliffs is on the right side of the photo, above the window
- Gibraltar Cliffs has an LRV of 30, so it’s got some good meat on its bones! It would partner up well with a soft warm white or muted cream paint colour
Not sure which colour is best for you?
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Do you have a north-east, north-west or north-south facing room?
While it might seem confusing, having dual exposures aren’t that bad when you’re armed with the right info! Check out this blog post on ‘how to pick paint colours when you have 2 exposures‘.
KYLIE M INTERIORS E-DESIGN, E-DECOR AND ONLINE, VIRTUAL PAINT COLOUR CONSULTING ADVICE BLOG SPECIALIZING IN BENJAMIN MOORE AND SHERWIN WILLIAMS PAINT COLOURS
Originally written in 2014, awesomely updated in 2019