Paint Challenge: How to turn up the thermostat in a dark, north-facing space

Designing a room that is starved from natural light? Cheer up! Paint experts from Benjamin Moore, Farrow & Ball and Sherwin-Williams tell us how to make north-facing rooms cozy and bright with their three top paint suggestions.

Spokesperson: Andrea Magno – Color & Design Expert

One of the most frequent questions we hear involves suggestions on the best gray paint colors for various types of rooms.  Since north-facing rooms have limited or cool light, there is a natural concern that a gray wall will look even cooler resulting in a less than welcoming look.

  • By selecting a warm gray such as Balboa Mist OC-27, the temperature of the light in the room will be balanced through the warm undertone, resulting in a very pleasing wall color.  When comparing Balboa Mist to other gray options, there is more red in this color that creates a warm cast, making it a favorite neutral for virtually any room in the home.

    Balboa Mist OC-27

  • A tranquil favorite for bedrooms, Woodlawn Blue HC-147 is a great color for north-facing rooms.  While blues are on the cool side of the color wheel, this specific blue works well in a room with cool or limited light because it has more yellow in it making it warmer, resulting in a slightly blue-green undertone.  In addition, this blue works very well with neutrals, whites, and even bold accents making it extremely versatile, even in rooms with limited light.

    Woodlawn Blue HC-147

  • The crisp look of an all-white room can be tricky when the natural lighting in a room is dim or has a cool cast due to a north-facing orientation.  Simply White OC-117 is a perfect selection as it has just the right amount of warmth to it without a yellow cast, and this color is able to balance out the wall color with the temperature of the light in the room.  The end result is fresh and welcoming, rather than cold or austere, which may occur with blue-based whites.

    Simply White OC-117

Spokesperson: Charlotte Cosby, Head of Creative

If a room is north-facing, colors will tend to appear cooler and harsher, making it difficult to create a feeling of light and space. Don’t fight nature, instead create a dramatic and cocoon type interior by using strong colors, such as Farrow & Ball De Nimes No. 299 or Bancha No. 298. They soften a room and are the perfect distraction to its size and shape, making them perfectly cozy.

  • This mid-century modern green is a darker version of the much-loved archive color, Olive. Perfect for those who want to embrace stronger color in the home, its sober tone creates rooms that feel calm and serene – especially when combined with soft pinks and browns. Named after Japanese tea leaves, Bancha, like a cup of green tea, provides a feeling of security.

    Bancha No. 298

  • This quietly elegant blue feels wonderfully down to earth, so could be used on anything from a kitchen island to a drawing room. The exact shade is rooted in a regency palette but is inspired by the cloth of everyday workwear made in the French city No.5s. Like denim, its blue hue is ultimately fashionable and yet always feels grounded.

    De Nimes No 299

  • The deepest and richest of our reds, this Baroque color is named in honor of our original trade name, Preference Paints. It can be used with any of the Red Based Neutrals but is particularly striking when seen in combination with Paean Black and Sulking Room Pink.

    Preference Red No. 297

Spokesperson: Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing

Pure White SW7005


Designing for a room that is starved for bright, natural light can be a real challenge. Lighter, brighter and cleaner colors will reflect the light in the space (or if there is a window) the natural light that is coming indoors. It’s also a good rule of thumb to paint ceilings Pure White SW7005 (or a bright, clean white) for best reflection. My favorite colors for this type of room are:

  • Soft, light and slightly gray, this neutral will look sophisticated and modern, without looking chilly.

    Gossamer Veil SW9165

  • Silverpointe is very slightly blue in cast.

    Silverpointe SW7653

  • Natural Tan is a light muted bone colored neutral that adds just the right touch of warmth to a north-facing room.

    Natural Tan SW7567

  • Soft, light and slightly darker gray, this neutral is cool, without being cold.

    Skyline Steel SW1015