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How To Decorate North Facing Rooms

Recently moved? Congratulations to you. Bet you can’t wait to make it feel like home. With decorating, factors like budget are key, and function is too, but can you guess what else you need to consider? The direction your room faces is also vital. Light can affect the appearance of paint big time. For instance, are any of your rooms naturally dark? Then they’re likely north-facing. And with these, there comes a bit of a challenge.

As north facing rooms get less sunlight, they’re notorious for being harder to paint. Even if the windows are large, the lighting level is low. Thankfully, we’re here to tell you how to embrace yours. Although we’re not usually one for sticking to rules, certain colours work so much better for dark, cool spaces. So if you have a north facing room, grab a brew and take five. There’s no reason dark room decor can’t be cosy and warm.

What is a north-facing room?

So, what exactly is a north-facing room? And what does it mean? We all have at least one. North facing rooms tend to have reflected light rather than direct sunshine. Which can make them appear cooler. On the other hand, south-facing rooms get plenty of sun. But this means they also have shadows too. As north-facing rooms don’t have this contrast, they are naturally still. Some might even say tranquil.

When selecting a shade for the room, direction matters. And it’s important that it’s considered. As northern light tends to omit hues of blue, it can make a big difference to paint. Unlike south-facing with its warmer tones. For instance, if you were to choose a grey paint for a north facing room, the shade will appear slightly purple or blue. Paint the same shade in south-facing, however, and you’ll get a mid-grey. That’s the fickle wizardry of room orientation.

How to use light to brighten up a north facing room

The problem with north facing rooms? They’re bloody tricky to paint. The lack of light can make fresh colours seem dull. This is especially if your room is devoid of windows and lots of ambient light. Finding the perfect level, however, can be fun. Whether your room is tiny or huge, there are a couple of ways to transform it into a brighter abode. A good amount of light will also have a positive impact on mood and improve the feel of your space. Here’s how to brighten a north-facing room.

We're envious of @its_all_about_the_house's natural light, check out those rays☀️

Natural light

Gloomy space getting you down? Harness the light. This will make your room feel as airy as poss. For instance, did you know skylights can let in three times as much light than without them at all? So, even on a dull day, it’ll feel brighter. Mirrors are also a brilliant trick for enlarging the space. Plus, there’s no upheaval like there is with installing skylights. Place mirrors opposite north-facing windows to reflect the light in. It’s simple, but it really works. And it’s not just natural light either. Mirrors can help emphasise other light sources too. So if you’re tasked with decorating a room, no matter how dreary it is, placing a lamp near a mirror can make all the difference.

If you're not blessed with natural light, play around with light fixtures light @danlovattdesign has, making them a focal point. 

Artificial light

If your room is insufficiently lit, no wonder it’s dark. Bad lighting makes it difficult to see and perform everyday tasks. Switch to great lighting, and you’ll instantly change the mood of the space. Plus, create depth and new height. Exactly what this type of space needs. No matter a room’s orientation, three different types of lighting are key. Accent, ambient, and task. A central pendant will give a nice welcoming vibe and an even layer up above. Ideally, any overhead lights should also be dimmable too. Pair with wall lights and floor lamps, plus a pillar candle or two. You’ll be surprised at how chill the room will start to look. Just make sure to avoid cool LED bulbs; warm is better. This will create an even glow and cosier living space.

How to use colour to create an illusion of light and space

North facing room colours are just as important as light and will ensure your home feels bright and airy all day. Need a little help with your scheme? We get the gist. Let’s look at using colour in north-facing spaces.

You don't have to steer clear of dark colours in a dark room, check out our moody colours to find one that works for your darker spaces.


Ever heard of the ‘Purkinje effect’? Neither did we. But it explains a lot. A theory used to describe the way different colours can change, depending on the level of light, it makes total sense why some shades don’t work. For example, take a north facing living room where the light is dimmer; tones of blues can feel way too cold. White, however, will warm the space up and look brighter. But decent lighting is A MUST to bring it to life. Dark shades will also work too, which almost doesn’t make sense. Think of it like embracing nature for a cosy, cocooning feel. Likewise, pastel paint colours with warm undertones will help to bounce light around.


Painting your ceiling darker can make your room appear smaller, why not have a look at our white sample pack to find the perfect one?


So what are the best ceiling colours for north facing rooms? Bright white can give the illusion of taller walls. Perfect for north-facing lounges and bedrooms, it’ll create the illusion of light and reflect any there is too. Although a little cliche, white ceilings work well and go with any style of decor. We say, why fix it if it ain’t broke? Try a warm, putty shade like COAT’s Safe Play. With paint, it’s also essential to bear in mind the type of finish you use. Not every tin is the same. While matt paint tends to absorb light, gloss paint likes to reflect. Try a soft sheen if your aim is to brighten a north facing room.


Rooms with a lack of daylight can feel gloomy. But that doesn't mean you have to be restricted on furniture style. Simply avoid bulky designs and steer clear of dark wood. These will drain the light from your space. Low-slung and slimline will really pay off. As will tapered legs, thin frames and glass. Natural finishes like polished marble or oak will also create an effortless flow. And keep your theme flexible. This way, you can chop and change the paint colours you use, as long as they’re warm. North facing living room colours include greiges and whites. A neutral sofa will also help lighten the space, but it doesn’t have to be plain. Tactile textures like fluting are super cute.


When it comes to the floor, dark wood is a no. And so are swirly carpets and hideous rugs. Light colours can brighten a room, especially when used underfoot. And they’ll make a north-facing space seem so much more open than it actually is. Opt for a pale hardwood floor or light coloured carpet. They’ll reflect the light so much better, we promise. On a budget? Try vinyl flooring instead. There’s loads of colours that can mimic the effect of natural wood. We’re also loving the idea of white Scandi floorboards for a paired-back, chic look. Although they will need to be cleaned more often. Top tip? Throw down some rattan oversized rugs. Or jute will work too. And the best bit? They can be easily thrown in the wash.


It’s amazing how the finishing touches can make an impact. Especially when they’re cleverly layered. Always layer large accessories like cushions first, sparingly mind. These will add a nice balance to the room where needed. Smaller, much brighter knick-knacks can then fill in the gaps. Like vases, artwork and books. A few pops of colour will also brighten the space. Who said living room north facing colour schemes had to be boring? A word of warning, however, don’t take it too far. A clean aesthetic always looks so much better than a room bursting with stuff. Better living room storage will keep it airy. It’s a fine line between stylish and over-kill.

How to make a north facing room feel cosy

Although north-facing rooms can be a pain in the arse, there’s no reason that they can’t feel nice. After all, they’re a room in your home; you can’t exactly leave them to rot. North-facing spaces need our love too. So to summarise the above, warm colours will be your best mate when it comes to wall paint. Neutrals like terracotta and greige will create the cosiest mood. Accessorise with rugs and blankets to make the space inviting.

Top tips to decorate a north facing room

Now that you’ve got the basics under your belt for tricky north-facing rooms, check out these savvy decor tips:

1) Hang your curtains as high as poss. By attaching the rail as close to the ceiling as poss, you’ll trick the eye into believing the wall is much bigger. Visually expanding the space, a good rule of thumb is to place the rail 4’’ above the window.

2) Use furniture to create different zones. There’s nothing wrong with defined spaces to make a north-facing room cosy.

3) Add a few plants. In our opinion, you can never have too many either.

4) Accessorise with care. Like we said, too many bit and bats is crowding.

5) Consider the space as a whole. Don’t forget; you’ll be using this space all year round.

Shop north-facing room wall paint or book a colour consultation to find out all you need to know ✌️



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