7 Great Colours for a North Facing or Northern Exposure Room
Partner post to ‘Can I Paint My North Facing Room White? – Yes you can!‘
Have you ever walked into a room and gotten the chills? Even a room that is ‘well-decorated’ can look cold and uninviting if not enough attention is paid to it’s exposure.
A north facing or northern exposure room will not get any direct sunlight throughout the day which means that it won’t benefit from the warmth (visual and physical) that natural sunlight offers.
There are 2 types of north facing rooms
- Low natural light: These rooms have windows that face north and the windows are likely smaller. They might also have reduced light due to an overhang/patio above the window or dense landscaping that blocks the sky.
- Bright natural light: These 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 are warm feeling.
Northern light can wash out paint colours
Low Light North Facing Room: North facing rooms 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 shadowed and cold look.
Bright Light North Facing Room: 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 shadows. However, the natural light itself can slightly wash out (gray out) some paint colours due to the gray nature of the light, while slightly enhancing cool tones such as blue, green and purple.
Warm colours will help create balance in a north facing room. Cool colours are great accents.
To counteract that cold, gray exposure, Designers often use warm paint colours as they will help to create some 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 add to the chill of the space.
To view each paint colour on the Benjamin Moore site, click on the underlined title
The Best Paint Colours for a North Facing Room
Benjamin Moore Navajo White OC 95
Navajo White is a beautiful, light and warm paint colour. Yellow is one of the few colours that really reflects light back into a room and the gray tones of the northern light can help to calm the reflective nature of yellow down to create a warm and restful balance. This yellow has a soft neutral base, so it isn’t overly ‘colourful’.
- Navajo White can work in a low-light or well-lit room
- The LRV of Navajo White is 78 – pretty darned high! In a well-lit room it might wash out a bit, but once the sun goes down it will go back to its former glory
- In a south facing room, expect Navajo White to look warmer/more yellow than it does above
Benjamin Moore Gentle Cream OC 96
Gentle Cream is rich enough to add some visual warmth to a space without being so light and creamy that it gets lost in the shadows (as it is considered a ‘light’ colour). The yellow/orange base of this heavy cream will help to balance out cool northern light – without looking overly yellowish on your walls. In a north facing room the undertones will be a bit less obvious than in a south facing room and it will act like a warm, but neutral feeling paint colour – keeping in mind the undertones/colour will come out a bit more once the sun goes down.
- The LRV of Gentle Cream is 71.0 (Read more about LRV)
- Personally, I’ve used Gentle Cream in my home in both north and south facing rooms and LOVE it in both!
Benjamin Moore Powell Buff HC 35
Powell Buff is a great choice for a north facing room. It leans more towards the medium end of things, without going full-tilt. It has such a lovely balance of yellow and orange undertones – tempered by a neutral beige base, making it flexible and fun to decorate with!
- Powell Buff is like a super subdued and grounded gold as the neutral base takes over the yellow and orange. But don’t expect it to be boring, it still has lovely warm undertones.
- The LRV of Powell Buff is 59. Great for a well-lit room and will help a darker room feel cozy and warm! Not sure what LRV is? Read about it here.
Benjamin Moore Lenox Tan HC 43
As shown in this beautiful, farmhouse living room below, Lenox Tan is a rich and warm colour without committing 100% to any particular colour.
Kylie M E-Design / Online Color Consulting
Lenox Tan is a rich gold colour, having both yellow and gold in it – tempered by a neutral base. And while it does have a weeee smidge of green to be aware of, it still holds a beautiful golden tone in any room.
- One of the more striking warm colours on this page, Lenox Tan is also the most dense with an LRV of 43. Great for a well-lit room and rich and cozy for a darker space
- In the above 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
Benjamin Moore Grant Beige HC 83
Grant Beige can work in a WELL-LIT north facing room as long as you aren’t looking for an overly ‘warm’ look. While Grant Beige is ‘beige’ it has a very neutral, almost greige (but not quite) undertone, particularly in a north facing room.
- 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 is the green landscaping outside the window!
- Grant Beige is the most ‘modern’ colour on this page with its slightly cool beige feeling
- With an LRV of 56.0 it will do well in a well-lit room, but in a dark room it without enough artificial lighting it might feel a bit flat
Benjamin Moore Northampton Putty HC 89
Northampton Putty is a rich warm beige colour with an almost golden green undertone (it’s super wicked). It has enough warmth to off-set some of those gray shadows without going as warm/gold toned as some of the above colours.
- Northampton Putty has an LRV of 33, so it has some nice rich weight to it
And if you’re absolutely DETERMINED to paint your walls a cooler colour….
Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue HC 147
Why can Wythe/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 makes it appear warmer! 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.
- This colour will be at its best in a north facing room with ample or atleast moderate natural light
- Any cool colour in a north facing room will need to be supplemented with warm wood tones and texture
Read more: The 8 Best Blue Green Paint Colours
Read more: Can I Paint My North Facing Room White?
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Here's some other ideas for you!