How Light Affects Colour
Colour varies according to light and depending on which direction your room is facing, colours can appear quite different. To help, we’ve given some suggestions to work in each type of room.
Rooms that face north are 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, and use strong dark colours like purples (Brinjal No.222) and chocolates (London Clay No.244) to create drama and intimacy. However, if you want to use lighter tones, try to avoid anything with a green or grey base in a north facing room. Opt for yellow based colours such as Yellow Ground No.218 and creamy neutrals such as New White No.59 or White Tie No.2002 to bounce as much light around as possible.
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.
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.
Obviously white walls are natural light reflectors and will flatter any colour of furnishing - this is particularly true in west facing rooms 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.