All light, especially natural light, impacts how paint color appears on a wall—and ultimately, how paint color looks in a room. Here, we share the best paint colors for rooms that get natural light from the north, known as 'northern exposure.'The amount of light that comes from each direction—be it north, south, east or west—has a powerful effect on a paint color's intensity and cast. Here are some common characteristics of northern light:
- A north-facing room tends to get consistent light throughout the day.
- The natural light in a room with northern exposure can be muted and toned down
- Cool, blue-gray tones are common for a room with northern exposure.
Let's look at solutions from our most popular color families when it comes to north-facing rooms: White, gray and neutral paint colors. Given that these paint colors are so subtle, natural light has the greatest impact on how each one appears in a space.
White Paint Colors for North-Facing Rooms: Top Picks
Counterbalance the cast of cool northern exposure with a clean, fresh white paint that has a hint of yellow. These three are all go-to white paint colors that provide varying levels of warmth, depending on how cool (or blue) the lighting in your north-facing space is.
Gray Paint Colors for North-Facing Rooms: Top Picks
We get asked what our "perfect gray" or "true gray" is a lot. Our answer? It depends on lighting. We selected the below gray paint colors because of their warm undertones. Each one softens the crisp nature of northern light. And while north-facing rooms may be a bit darker than southern exposure, we love leaning into the moody ambiance of northern lighting with these three varying shades of gray.
Neutral Paint Colors for North-Facing Rooms: Top Picks
The muted natural lighting of a north-facing space holds great appeal for many. These neutral paint colors provide soft yellow undertones that tone down the coolness of a north-facing room. Hints of golden earth and soft sand add a grounded sensibility and overall warm ambiance.
North-Facing Rooms: Consider the SeasonNatural lighting conditions, like nature itself, are powerful.
Influencers include where you live—think woodsy versus coastal versus desert environments. And clearly, natural lighting changes throughout the day, which also influences how paint colors appear on a wall.
Seasons can make a particularly big impact on how paint color appears in a north-facing room. Consider:
- Winter yields natural light that tends to be cooler and sharper than natural light during the summer.
- Summertime lighting can evoke a warmer cast than winter lighting, from the same exact paint color.
- Shadows falling on the wall of an already dusky room can appear even darker. Consider painting a shadowed wall a vibrant color. We always love Hawthorne Yellow HC-4, Palladian Blue HC-144 and the warm, terracotta of Potters Clay 1221 for accent walls in darker spaces.
- For trim and ceiling paint colors for north-facing room, consider White Dove OC-17. This fresh white paint color works beautifully with all the colors in this article, offering clean contrast and a bright outline.
- Consider a higher finish on trim, like semi-gloss or high-gloss, to bring reflection and dimension to slightly darker spaces.
North-Facing Rooms: Increase Color ConfidenceIf you have a north-facing space, and the paint colors on this page caught your eye, you still have some testing to do.
First, buy a paint color sample either from your local Benjamin Moore retailer or from our online store. You can opt for oversized color swatches, peel-and-stick samples or brush-on paint color samples. If using a brush-on paint sample, we recommend painting a foam poster board so you can easily move it around and observe colors in different lighting.
Next, see how your selected paint colors look under your home's unique lighting conditions, both in artificial and natural light, throughout the day and evening.