How Light Affects Colour In The Home
North Facing Rooms
Rooms facing north are one of the most difficult to decorate, especially if you are trying to create light and space. Sometimes it is better not to fight nature in a dark room – instead, work with it. Using a strong dark colour like purples (Brinjal No.222) and chocolates (London Clay No.244) to create drama and intimacy. However, if you want to use lighter tones, avoid anything with a green or grey base in a north facing room. Yellow based colours such as Yellow Ground No.218 and creamy neutrals such as New White No.59 or White Tie No.2002 depend on bouncing as much light around as possible.
Brinjal No.222 London Clay 244 Yellow Gnd 218
New White 59 White Tie
South Facing Room
South facing rooms are a joy to decorate because the quality of light allows one to use both warm and cool colours. All colours will look good! In order to maximise the feeling of light, it is best to use a less coloured palette – pale tones for a light and airy space. Cool pale blues such as Pavilion Blue No.252 and Borrowed Light No.235 create a wonderful watery seaside feel while the red based neutrals such as Joa’s White No.226 and Dimity No.2008 create a warmer and more sophisticated feel. In south facing rooms you can use a fairly bright white on the woodwork and ceilings to create a crisp and fresh look.
Pavilion Blue 252 Borrowed Light 235
Joa’s White 226 Dimity 2008
East Facing Room
The light in east facing rooms can appear to be a little blue so it is best to work with this and choose greens or blues. To create as much light as possible but still retain some warmth, look at pale duck egg colours (try Pale Powder No.204 and Teresa’s Green No.236) which will really come alive in the morning sunlight. Because the light will change so dramatically through the day it is often good to team these with a darker tone on woodwork or furniture such as Chappell Green No.83 so that the walls appear lighter in contrast. If you want to use a white, choose one with a green or blue base such as James White No.2010.
Pale Powder 204 Teresa’s Green 236
Chapel Green 83 James White 2010
West Facing Rooms
Obviously, white walls are natural light reflectors and will flatter any colour of furnishing – this is particularly true in a west facing room where white will enhance both natural and artificial light and give you a wonderful airy feeling (try Wimborne White No.239). Even the greyer neutrals such as Slipper Satin No.2004 should retain a feeling of light – although the colour will change from morning to night – cooler earlier and warmer later. However evening and afternoon sun also works extremely well with reds, so it is worth considering a soft pink such as Middleton Pink No.245 to create a really warm glow without losing too much light.
Wimborne White 239 Satin Slipper 2004 Middleton Pink 245
All paints are from © Farrow & Ball colour selections.