Deciding on colors for a north-facing room can be tricky. With limited natural light, it’s important to choose shades that will make the space feel bright and inviting. Certain colors work better than others in north-facing rooms, bringing warmth and coziness to what might otherwise feel like a dark cave.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore 8 of the best paint colors for north-facing rooms. We’ll look at the psychology behind color and why these shades are ideal for spaces that get minimal direct sunlight. Whether you’re repainting an existing room or designing a new one, these color recommendations will help you create a beautiful, luminous north-facing space.
Why Choose the Right Colors for North-Facing Rooms
North-facing rooms pose a unique decorating challenge. With little access to direct sunlight, the space can easily feel dark and gloomy. This can make the room seem smaller and closed-in.
Paint color has a major impact on the ambiance of a space. Choosing the wrong shades for a north-facing room can exacerbate the issues, making it feel even more like a cave. The right colors, however, can transform the space into a warm, inviting area you’ll love spending time in.
The Psychology of Color
Color psychology plays an important role in how we perceive a space. Certain shades evoke emotions, set a mood, and make us feel energized or relaxed. Cooler hues like blue and green can have a calming effect. Warm shades like yellow, orange, and red feel energizing and cozy.
With the right colors, you can completely change the vibe of a north-facing room. Bright, light colors will make the space feel more open and airier. Warm earth tones will add coziness to a room that doesn’t get much sun. Bold shades can inject color and personality.
Maximizing Natural Light
North-facing rooms only get indirect sunlight, usually in the afternoon as the sun travels across the southern sky. This makes them prone to feeling dark and gloomy much of the day.
Painting the walls in light, reflective colors is one of the best ways to combat the lack of natural light. The bright shades will bounce and amplify any available sunlight, helping illuminate the entire room. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
So when choosing colors for a north-facing space, it’s important to think about how they will interact with light. Stay away from dark, saturated shades that will absorb light. Instead opt for paler versions of colors that will keep things feeling bright.
Increasing the Sense of Space
Dark colors tend to make a room feel smaller and more closed-in. Since north-facing rooms already contend with those issues, you’ll want to avoid shades that exacerbate it.
Lighter colors help create the illusion of a larger, more open space. They reflect light rather than absorbing it, which makes the room feel more expansive and airy.
So in addition to maximizing natural light, the right paint color can actually trick the eye into perceiving a north-facing room as larger than it is. Stick with light, bright shades to increase the sense of space.
8 Best Paint Colors for North-Facing Rooms
Now let’s look at 8 specific colors that work incredibly well in north-facing spaces. These shades will make the most out of minimal natural light while creating a beautiful, inviting room.
1. Soft White
A soft white is one of the best paint colors for dark rooms. It maximizes reflected light, making the space feel bright and airy. Pure white can feel a bit sterile and harsh, especially with minimal sunlight. A soft white adds just a hint of warmth to brighten up a north-facing room.
Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White is a perfect example of a soft, creamy white that flatters north light. It has just a touch of warmth that feels cozy instead of stark. Soft white is ideal for bedrooms in north-facing spaces. It evokes a light, airy tranquility perfect for a restful sleep.
2. Light Gray
For those who find pure white too stark, light gray is another top choice for north-facing rooms. It provides much of white’s light, airy feel but with a slightly warmer, cozier vibe.
Benjamin Moore’s Silver Satin is a beautiful light gray that works well in minimal natural light. Without feeling drab or gloomy, it opens up the space and reflects light well. Light gray is an excellent choice for living rooms or offices in a north-facing room.
3. Soft Yellow
Pure white and light gray can still feel a bit clinical and cold sometimes. For a warmer, cozier ambiance, consider a soft yellow. This cheerful hue adds brightness along with a dose of welcoming warmth.
Valspar’s Illumination is a lovely, mellow yellow without feeling overbearing. It casts a warm glow that makes a north-facing space feel bathed in sunshine even on a cloudy day. Soft yellow works great in dining rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.
4. Light Blue
Cooler hues can also work well to combat the lack of natural light in a north-facing room. The best options are soft pastel shades of blue and green rather than vivid primaries which may feel harsh.
Benjamin Moore’s Sky Blue is a beautiful robin’s egg shade that brightens up a dark room. It reflects light well while creating a calming, serene ambiance. Use light blue in bedrooms or bathrooms in a north-facing space.
5. Soft Sage Green
Another soothing cool tone for north light is a soft sage green. This pale shade of green adds brightness while also creating a tranquil retreat-like feel.
Benjamin Moore’s Misty Green is a perfect example of a light green that flatters minimal sunlight. It opens up the visual space and makes the room feel quietly peaceful. Use soft sage green in bedrooms, offices or reading nooks.
6. Warm Neutrals
Sometimes a pop of color feels like too much for a north-facing space. Warm neutral tones add subtle coziness without going overboard. Shades like beige, camel, and sand gently liven up the room.
Valspar’s Latte Milk is a creamy beige neutral that warms up a north-facing space beautifully. It keeps things light and airy but with more character than basic white or gray. Warm neutrals work well in any room including living rooms and bedrooms.
7. Soft Coral
If you want just a hint of color without anything too bold, a pale coral is the perfect choice. This peachy-pink tone feels cheerful but not overwhelming in minimal natural light.
Sherwin-Williams’ Pale Coral is a gorgeous example of a muted coral with a warm, welcoming vibe. It casts a warm glow over the room like a stunning sunset. Use soft coral in kitchens, bathrooms or bedrooms.
8. Pale Greens and Blues
Sometimes the best approach is to stick with soft, luminous shades of green and blue. Pastel tones like mint, seafoam and robin’s egg blue work beautifully together in a north-facing space.
A combination like Behr’s Spa Green and Behr’s Wind Chime creates a serene, spa-like retreat. The twin cool tones play off each other, keeping the room feeling bright and visually expansive. Use pale greens and blues together in bedrooms, bathrooms or living spaces.
Decorating with These North-Facing Color Schemes
Paint color sets the overall tone for a room but you’ll want to carry the scheme throughout the space for a cohesive feel. Here are some tips for decorating with these north-facing color palettes:
Add Warm Metal Accents
Warm metallic accents like brass and copper pair nicely with light, airy paint colors. A brass floor lamp, copper throw pillows and bronze vases provide a pop of cozy luxe. Metallics also bounce light around, adding brightness.
Incorporate Natural Textures
Layer in natural elements like wood, rattan, jute and linen. Rough textures feel warm and welcoming in a space that doesn’t get direct sun. Floating wood shelves, a cozy area rug and linen curtains add organic interest.
Choose Upholstery in Related Hues
Tie everything together by selecting upholstery and throw pillows in shades that complement the paint color. A soft white scheme gains warmth from creams and golds. Sage green pops against rich browns and navies. Coral feels cheerful with pinks and yellows. Stick to the same color family for a complete look.
Add Mirrors to Reflect Light
Hanging mirrors, especially near windows, is a great way to maximize natural light. The reflective surface bounces sunlight further into the room, making the space feel bright and open. Incorporate large leaning mirrors or a statement mirror wall.
Use Multiple Lamps and Sconces
Since natural light is limited, make sure to include ample artificial lighting. Table and floor lamps in multiple corners provide task lighting and ambiance. Sconces flanking the bed or above artwork cast a welcoming glow.
Incorporate House Plants
No room is complete without a little greenery! Houseplants thrive in the low-light conditions of north-facing rooms. Their sculptural forms and rich green hues provide liveliness. Group a few potted plants in sunny spots near windows.
8 Colors for North-Facing Bedrooms
Bedrooms in particular need to feel warm, peaceful and inviting. Here are the best color ideas to transform a north-facing bedroom into a relaxing oasis:
A light gray like Benjamin Moore Silver Satin or Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray creates a soothing, zen retreat. Layer in warm woods, crisp linens and modern textures for a balanced sleep space.
White reflects light beautifully in a bedroom. Go for a soft creamy white like Behr Lunar Surface or Benjamin Moore Cloud White. Add in rattan nightstands, cozy throws and lots of plants for chic brightness.
For a cheerful pop of color, paint the bedroom walls in a muted coral like Behr Sunset Beach. Offset the pink tones with white trim, woven textures and brass accents.
Robin’s Egg Blue
A pastel blue like Sherwin-Williams Rainwashed casts a serene spell on a bedroom. Natural fibers like jute rugs and rattan bed frames feel beachy and tranquil.
The perfect shade of green for a bedroom is a soft, muted sage like Valspar Healing Aloe. Boost relaxation by pairing it with clean white linens, wood accents and burnished metals.
For an ultra-zen vibe, stick with warm, earthy neutrals like beige, tan or greige. Benjamin Moore Galway Sand is a perfect warm neutral for a cozy, calming haven.
A muted butter yellow like Behr Candle Glow infuses sunshine and tranquility. White trim keeps things feeling light, with painted wood furniture for cozy contrast.
Dove Gray + Pale Blue
Pair dove gray walls with robin’s egg blue ceiling and trim for a dreamy aesthetic. Crisp linens, wood accents and marble textures complete the look.
7 Colors for North-Facing Living Rooms
The living room is another space that needs an intentional color palette to feel warm and inviting with northern light. Here are stand-out shades for a cozy, functional living space:
Benjamin Moore Simply White is a crisp white with just a hint of warmth, perfect for opening up a living room. Update with natural fiber rugs, woven accents and wood furniture.
Valspar Rocky Road is a light beige that provides subtle warmth without going dark. Illustrative art, stone accents and eclectic vintage furnishings keep it feeling bright.
Dusky Blue + Cream
Pair a muted blue like Behr Windward with warm ivory trim and accents for an elevated scheme. Incorporate velvet and linen textures mixed with wood tones for contrast.
Sage Green + Wood Tones
Sherwin-Williams Naturel makes a beautiful earthy backdrop to wood furniture and finishes. Layer in towering plants, woven textures and brass lighting for an organic feel.
Soft Gray + Coral Accents
Benjamin Moore Wickham Gray gains liveliness with punches of coral upholstery and throw pillows. Crisp white trim grounds the scheme.
Sand + Navy Blue
Behr Muted Coral softened with vivid navy trim and accents makes a preppy-chic combo. Add in striped linens, braided rugs and caned seating.
Terracotta + Natural Linen
For a southwestern vibe, use terracotta walls like Sherwin-Williams Terra Cotta with accents in washed natural linen. Incorporate desert and tribal motifs.
5 Colors for North-Facing Kitchens
Kitchens need an intentional color scheme that makes the most of low northern light. Avoid going too dark, and stick with shades that reflect light and add cozy warmth.
Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace is a versatile white with a hint of cream that keeps things airy and light. Ground with natural wood cabinetry and marble or butcher block countertops.
A minty light green like Behr Iced Cube is refreshing in a kitchen. White cabinetry prevents things from going dark. Chrome finishes and marble accents keep it feeling bright and crisp.
Farrow and Ball’s Slipper Satin is a warm sand shade that makes a kitchen feel softly sunlit even on a cloudy day. Open-frame wood shelving, ceramic tiles and stainless steel appliances pair nicely.
Behr Cirrus Cloud is a dreamy, peaceful blue perfect for kitchens in need of brightness. White marble counters and backsplashes bounce the light beautifully.
Valspar’s Banana Creme is a buttery yellow that infuses joy and light into a kitchen. Navy or black accents add nice contrast to balance out the cheeriness.
6 Colors for North-Facing Bathrooms
Bathrooms in north-facing homes need special color consideration to keep them feeling bright and fresh instead of like a dark cave. Pastels, whites and neutrals work best in these spaces.
A light gray like Benjamin Moore Pale Oak feels spa-like in a bathroom, paired with crisp white trim and modern chrome finishes. Clean white marble adds brightness.
Behr Surf Green is a tranquil cool tone for bathrooms with limited natural light. Crisp white tile and tub surrounds bounce light beautifully. Add a hint of warmth with wood accents.
Sherwin-Williams Coral Reef is a muted pink-peach that feels cheerful but peaceful. Keep other finishes light like marble counters, white trim and chrome fixtures.
Farrow and Ball’s Clunch is a gorgeous robin’s egg blue that opens up a small dark bathroom. Warm up with wood shelving, woven baskets and brass accents.
Benjamin Moore White Dove is a fail-safe bright white for bathrooms, keeping things light and airy. Pair with marble tile, chrome details and thick white towels for spa vibes.
Farrow and Ball’s Strong White has hints of warm beige that add just enough cozy contrast to all-white bathrooms. Add in rattan baskets, driftwood accents, and a jute bath mat.
Design Ideas to Maximize Light in North-Facing Rooms
Aside from paint color, there are several design tricks that can help amplify natural light in north-facing spaces. Here are some top tips:
Hanging long curtains that cover the entire wall draws the eye upwards, creating an elongated effect that makes rooms feel more expansive. Opt for light-filtering linen or cotton curtains.
Large-Scale Artwork and Mirrors
Incorporate oversized wall art and mirrors, especially facing windows. The large pieces give the illusion of a larger room and reflect whatever sunlight comes into the space.
Clear Glass Light Fixtures
Candlestick lamps, pendant lights with clear rather than frosted glass, and wall sconces with clear detailing pass the light through and around, especially when positioned near a window.
White or Mirrored Furniture
White painted and mirrored furniture bounces light well in a room without direct sun. A white washed vanity, mirrored side table, or mirrored closet doors amplify brightness.
Sheer and Lightweight Window Treatments
Use sheer curtain panels, or linen drapes and shades, which filter light without blocking or darkening a room. Avoid heavy drapery.
Glossy and Reflective Surfaces
Glossy finishes like polished lacquer furniture or cabinetry catch and reflect light well, as do high-gloss tiles and easy-to-clean white quartz countertops.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best paint colors for north-facing rooms?
The best paint colors for north-facing rooms are light, bright shades like soft white, light gray, pale yellow, light blue, soft sage green, warm neutrals, muted coral, and pale greens and blues. These reflect light well.
How do you decorate a north-facing living room?
Decorate a north-facing living room using light paint colors like soft white or beige, and add warm metal accents, natural textures, and upholstery in related hues. Add mirrors and include ample lamps and sconces.
What color goes with gray in a north-facing bedroom?
Some great colors to pair with gray in a north-facing bedroom include crisp white, light blue, pale coral, and soft sage green. These accent shades complement gray while keeping the space feeling bright.
What color makes a small dark bathroom look bigger?
Light, airy paint colors like white, light gray, mint, sage and pale blue can make a small, dark bathroom feel open and expansive. Stick with neutral, pale shades.