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7 effortless ways to decorate a north facing room

Updated: May 31, 2022

Lets talk about North facing rooms.

I would say decorating a north facing room is probably one of the biggest design dilemmas people come to me with. These spaces are often thought of as dark, cold and gloomy and almost impossible to choose paint colours for.

Well, I’m going to show you how to tackle those tricky rooms, make the most of them and feel confident in your decisions. And lets face it, the majority of us will all have a challenging north facing room in our house.

warm white contemporary kitchen, with large range cooker and natural timber bar stool.
Warm off-whites in a north facing kitchen - Little Greene Paint Company

But first, what is a north facing room and what does it mean?

Not wanting to teach you all how to suck eggs (thats such an odd saying?) but I thought it would be good to start from the basics.

A north facing room is essentially a room that has windows that face north. As the sun rises in the east, passes over south and sets in the west, north facing rooms tend to receive little of the warm, bright sunshine that we (sometimes) get here in the UK during the day. As a result, the light coming into the room will feel cooler, darker and more grey. Even a north facing room with big windows can still appear pretty dark.

Of course, quality of light, time of day and time of year can all change how we perceive colour under natural light and this can make it tricky to get a real feel for how paint colours may vary, particularly in a north facing room.

Neutral bedroom with white walls and a plant in the corner.
Moody neutrals in a north facing bedroom - Lick Paint.

So where do you start?

First, consider what your north facing room is used for. Colours for a north facing bedroom may differ to those that you might want to use in a north facing dining room for example.

Think about when you use the room - if its a room that only gets used at night, does it matter too much if its dark?

Often, I hear people wanting to paint their north facing rooms white to brighten the space and make the most of what light there is. But a dark room is never going to be light and bright. And white, almost certainly will not bounce light around. It will end up just looking a bit dull and dingy.

dark green painted fireplace in a large living room with blue sofa
Green Smoke - Farrow and Ball

So, to give you a bit of kick-start, here’s a few ideas and considerations when it comes to decorating your north facing rooms:

  • Don’t fight the darkness. Embrace it instead. Dark rooms can feel dramatic and cosy. Go for snug and warm vibes with deeper, moodier paint colours.

  • If dark isn’t for you, then its important to choose the right light shade. Paler colours with warm undertones can add a soft lightness without being too cold.

  • Use artificial lighting - a variety of wall lights, table lamps, floor lamps and cabinetry lighting will help create a cosy ambience.

  • Allow maximum light through your windows. Stack curtains back and mount blinds on the wall above the frame, not in the recess. This allows as much light as possible to enter the room.

  • Use of mirrors will help to bounce light around. Make sure it is a good sized mirror and hang it on the wall opposite the window if possible.

  • Add patterns to introduce interest where light doesn’t. Wallpapers, rugs, house plants (just pick the right ones for a shady room!), soft furnishings are all good places to start with adding pattern.

  • If you were feeling particularly brave, you could even go bright - reds, oranges and yellows all work well to create an uplifting and vibrant feel.

So all in all, the take home message is this: the best colours for north facing rooms are going to be the warmer ones - warm whites, greys, green and even warmer blue shades will all work. Add light, pattern and texture and you'll be onto a winner in no time!

Hopefully that will have given you some food for thought for your next decorating project.

Don’t forget to reach out and send me a message if you have any questions or would like my help in creating beautiful and functional spaces in your home.

Dani x

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