Color Post: How the Natural Light in your Space Affects Color Choices

I'm going to start including a few more color posts on the blog, because it seems like so many of my clients have similar questions for me that this may give everyone some commonly needed information.

When I book a color consultation with a client, the first thing I do is type in their address at google maps.
This shows me which exposure the property has so that I can accurately determine which direction each room faces when considering color selections.

I should mention that climate has a big effect on light - generally speaking, in a sunnier clime, the more intense and cool tones work well, whereas places with long grey winters should really stick with lighter and warmer palettes.

People aren't always aware what a difference there is in north, south east or west facing room,
so I've been playing around with a photo so you can see how light changes color:

The light from the North - 
north facing rooms are the darkest in the home.
Although most artists prefer to use this light because of it's consistency through the day,
it will cause everything in the space to appear, and feel, cooler.
Adding warm hues through paint and accents are important to make the space feel welcoming.

The light from the South -
south facing rooms are brightest in the house.
These spaces, like north facing rooms, have consistent light all day - 
the difference is it is a warmer, bright light that intensifies any color placed within it.
Unless you love the energizing effect of intense hues, use softer tones here.

The light from the East  -
these rooms obviously light up in the morning, 
and that means determining what time of day they will be used most frequently.
The light from the east is bright and white, and tends to wash out color,
 so a more saturated palette may be used here.
If the space will be used more in the afternoon or evening, 
a warmer palette will help to balance the lack of natural light.

The light from the West -
the afternoon/evening light from the west tends to be orange based.
If the space will be used during these times, you will definitely want cool tones here for balance.
Morning use of a west-facing space will mean that more warm tones
 can be used without becoming overwhelming.

Very rarely do buildings face a direction squarely, and often there is windows on multiple walls,
so usually rooms receive a combination of light.


This is the reason you have to bring paint swatches home to check out how they appear in your space.

Cottage Living

Is there a room in you home where you have applied this strategy?
Did it make a difference in the atmosphere?
Were you happy with the results?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on these color posts, and would be completely happy if to post about any color bits you would like - just let me know!

One week til school starts, and I will miss the kids, but it will be lovely to get back on track with the projects around here and share them with you - next up is my living room, which desperately needs curtains (west facing) and the art hung :)

til next time..

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Layers and Layers said...

excellent post Anne-Marie. I aways do big poster cards of paint colours for my clients and ask them to move them around the room and to check them morning, afternoon and evening to make sure they are liked at each point of the day. Look forward to more posts on this!

Chats with Jack said...

I'm starving to learn more about color and design, so I loved this one. Do you have any books on color you would recommend? Right now I'm just going on gut instinct.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

More please! These are gorgeous.
And yes, I'm jotting these notes down where I can find them before my next painting project.

Nyla said...

This is great Anne-Marie! I love how you showed the same white room representing lighting from all directions. People forget, or don't realize the importance of analyzing their space alongside selecting a paint colour. Looking forward to more!

tractorgirl said...

Excellent! Yes, light is so important, its intensity and direction, as well as the time of day can make such an enormous difference. (p.s. Always love your photos!)

Anne-Marie @ 10 Rooms said...

Thanks so much for all the feedback, guys! I have begun to compile a list of color posts and just off the top have about 15! some of it you will probably already know,, but I'll get it out there :)

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but what if the majority of the natural light in the room comes from skylights?

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