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In the interior design world we often hear about room orientation, but just how important is it when it comes to making paint colour choices? The truth is the aspect of a space can dramatically change the look, and feel, of your colour scheme. Don’t take those dream colours off your mood boards just yet though! You may just need to take a slightly different approach in each room to achieve your desired aesthetic.
Although South facing rooms are seen as the most desirable for their bright, natural light, I’m here to debunk the myths and prove that there is no such thing as “bad” light. Once you’ve sussed the light in your space, you can create the perfect atmosphere no matter the orientation!
If, like myself, you’re not a seasoned navigator (hands up if you lose your car in Tesco car park), fear not! Technology today makes it incredibly easy to work out which direction your room is facing. Most smartphones have a compass app already installed on them, so you can simply aim your phone at the largest window in the room and whichever direction the dial points toward, this is your room orientation! If you’d rather take a more natural approach, you can monitor the sunlight as it pours into the room throughout the day. If you find that there isn’t a great deal of light at any point of the day, this is likely a North Facing room. If the room feels crisp in the morning, but brighter and warmer later in the day with a view of the sunset, you have a West facing room. East facing rooms are the opposite of West facing; they get their brighter light in the mornings which then cools off as the day goes on. And finally, South facing rooms are drenched in clear, warm daylight from sunrise to sunset!
North facing rooms tend to appear cooler because they don’t receive any direct sunlight, but don’t let this dishearten you! You can still create a warm and inviting atmosphere by following a few simple steps when you’re making those all important colour choices.
When it comes to neutral, off white or grey paint colours, it is best to avoid cool undertones like blue or green as they will likely make the room appear colder. Instead, opt for shades with hints of yellow, red or pink! COTY 01 is a light neutral beige with red undertones, making it a perfect off white paint for North facing rooms. For a deeper, earthy neutral paint colour, Stay Grounded will work beautifully with its cosy beige and peach undertones. Warmer colours like these will soften the steely-ness of the cooler light and take on a more neutral role, making the space feel much more balanced. Blush pink and dusky pink paint colours also really lend themselves to North facing rooms!
And of course, you don’t have to fight nature! Go bold an make an impact with moody shades like Teal Tango- a cosy teal paint colour with the perfect balance of green and blue undertones, or Sweet Liquorice- a delicious charcoal grey paint colour with a softness to it. Going with deep blue, teal or black paint in a North facing room may sound like you’re breaking the rules, but by working with the crisp natural light, you can create a truly dramatic and enveloping space! This cocooning atmosphere will bring all the warmth and cosiness you could wish for; especially when paired with soft furnishings and gold metal finishes.
For East or West facing rooms, the best place to start is to consider when the room would be used the most. East facing rooms are brighter in the morning and cooler towards the evening. West facing rooms are the opposite- receiving cool light first thing in the morning, with warmer light pouring in later in the day. Once you’ve determined whether you need colours with cooler or warmer undertones to balance the light, you’re flying!
Let’s use an East facing bedroom as one example! You may wish to avoid colours with red or pink undertones because that bright morning sunlight may make the room feel overwhelming and “hot”. Instead, opting for cool blue, green or violet undertones would make the room feel balanced in the morning, then calm and restful in the evening. Deep Breath is a gorgeous minty green paint colour with soft, pearly undertones which would create a serene atmosphere in any East facing room. For a deeper sense of tranquility, Blue Pause is a calming grey blue paint colour which will help you unwind after even the busiest of days.
@diaryofahomebird has used our designer colour match NTB266 - a soft grey green - to keep this warm, sun-drenched corner from feeling too hot.
For a West facing bedroom you would simply reverse this; cooler tones may make the room feel brisk and stark in the morning, whereas warmer colours would balance out the crisp morning light and create a cosy vibe in the evening! Alpaca Greige is a beautiful neutral paint colour for a West facing room; this colour radiates warmth and depth with its dusky greige undertones. Olive green paint colours also work incredibly well in cooler light! If you’d like to introduce these tones without using a dark green paint colour, Dried Pampas would bring equilibrium to your space with its natural yellow hues and a hint of olive.
The sunlight elevates COTY 02 in @housenumber6_ bedroom, neutralising the smoky grey undertones and creating a cosy, warm atmosphere
If you want to inject some character with bolder shades, simply follow the same rules and you can’t go wrong! Sweet Liquorice and COTY 02 would work incredibly well in an East facing room to balance out the morning light with their smoky grey undertones. For West facing rooms, the warm, muted brown & rose hues of Gypsy Beads would create that desired moody aesthetic without overpowering the space.
Although South facing rooms are seen as the most forgiving because they’re so light and bright, there are still some key things to consider when you’re looking for the perfect colours to maximise this sun-drenched space!
Radiant sunlight can wash out some colours, so it’s super important to keep this in mind when you’re considering the overall feeling you’d like to create. Do you want to boost the warm light, or soften it? Maybe you want to show your personality and go bold & bright? By picking the correct undertones you can be confident that you’ll be getting the most out of your colour choices!
@bd_home like to take advantage of the golden sunlight as it transforms this earthy blue grey shade “NTB299” into a warm aqua shade
Let’s think back to our East and West facing rules of thumb: off whites, neutrals and greys with crisp blue, green and violet undertones will balance the intense warmth, keeping the space fresh & airy. Mindset is a beautiful arctic blue with soft grey undertones which would neutralise in the glowing sunlight to create a calm, balanced atmosphere. To achieve a true middle ground, go for cooler grey-based neutrals and mid-greys as they will take on a much warmer role!
@briony.kasper.quinn has made the most of the natural light in Kasper’s room with our designer colour match “NTB22”. The warm sunlight gives this silvery blue so much depth, creating a peaceful, sensory friendly space!
If you’d like the room to radiate warmth and joy, opt for daring yellows and oranges such as COTY 08 - a deep orange with brown & honey undertones, or Canyon - a rustic, persimmon orange with copper hues. Rust & amber undertones give these jubilant shades depth, so you won’t be risking them looking too “primary” in the sunlight.
The moody, mustard undertones of “NTB66” paired with the radiant sunlight in @cornish_homebird’s dining room make the ultimate recipe for a joyful, cocooning space! I especially love how they’ve maximised the warmth by painting the radiator and shelving in the same colour.
Greens, charcoals, teals and navy blue paint colours take on a much more modest appearance in South facing rooms so you can afford to go darker; this will prevent them looking too powdery or washed out. You could inject nature into the room with a rich, smoky green blue like COTY 02, or for a more striking and illuminating turquoise, the green hues of Teal Tango will sing in the sunlight.
Room orientation isn’t just for interior designers- it’s a fantastic tool to help you create a space that you love. Ready to get stuck into some colour testing? Order your tester pots today!
If you’re still unsure, don’t worry! You can contact us for expert advice and we have all of the inspiration you need on our Instagram, where we also run our Colour Clinic every Friday to help you with all of your colour related questions!