Many people ask me if they can do gray paint in a north-facing room.
Good question, huh?
I wish I could give you a simple yes or no answer, but I can’t.
Here is a room that is an architectural gem with great light. No problemo.
But before you get discouraged, I think that if handled properly, you can paint a room just about any color you like! But there are a lot of IFs to get through first…
Most colors have undertones. And these are affected by the light in the room. And something that I rarely hear discussed is that the light CAN change throughout the day, and the undertones can change too!
Therefore, what I’m trying to say is that you may like a color in the morning and hate it at night or vice versa. You might like it on a sunny day and hate it on a cloudy day.
Then, there are other variables.
- How large is the room?
- How High is the ceiling?
- How many windows and how large?
- Is there a big hill outside the window?
- Are there a lot of trees?
- A Porch?
- What part of the country/world do you live in?
- What season is it?
And we haven’t gotten into personal preferences, the other furniture, the other rooms adjacent, what your husband wants. What your mother [in law] wants. LOL
Actually, it’s not really all that funny, is it?
And when someone says, “Oh, calm down, it’s just paint.”
Don’t you wanna shove a paint roller down their throat?
IT’S NOT JUST PAINT!!!
However, being the consummate professional I
‘m pretending to be am, I’m going to tell it to you straight.
I don’t care what anyone tells you.
Choosing a paint color is often a big crap shoot ‘anywho.’
No matter how much experience one has. No matter what some expert says. We can make an educated guess, but light has its rules and isn’t always forthcoming about giving up the info, either.
However, there are some general rules of thumb when choosing paint colors.
Hopefully, these will help you narrow the choices and understand what will look best.
- Larger rooms generally look better in pale shades— unless a lot is going on architecturally to break it up. More about that in a sec.
- South-facing rooms bring out the warm undertones and can stand colors with cooler ones.
- Gray paint in a North-facing room will look darker and grayer. It will also accentuate any blue, purple, or green undertones. So, a color that looks taupe [reddish undertones] in a south-facing room might look khaki [greenish] in a north-facing room. I have seen colors that switched throughout the day!
- Generally, colors with warmer undertones look better in a north-facing room.
What is the one color you should probably not paint a north-facing room?
Unless it is a very clear, non-gray white with warm undertones, it will look gray and dingy in a north-facing room. Now, if you would like a pale gray, then go with plain white paint, which might be what you’re looking for. The only exception might be if your north-facing room has a lot of windows.
Can you paint a north-facing room a dark color?
Yes, but know that you’ll always need some light on in the room, and you might anyway if the room is very dark. But, you will also need mirrors, art, and some light colors to break it up.
Here’s the deal. And this is true of any room, but especially a color like gray.
To make it look fabulous, there needs to be something going on architecturally. This could be windows, mouldings, high ceilings, or all of the above. Please look at this post about architectural detailing and mouldings for my ideas about that.
Like this fabulous room, the detailing is so rich. Wonderful!
Here are some other things you will need to make a gray room look rich
- vary the shades of gray
This room above is a study in a beautifully executed interior design. The green plant is what makes this room come alive. However, I wish there was a little gold.
- Break up the walls with windows, doors, mouldings, artwork, and furniture.
- There should always be some black and some white.
Mrs. Daniel, Mary Turner – John Singer-Sargent-1763
Another handsome room by John Jacob.
- It would help if you had some metallic pieces. Gold is especially wonderful and welcome if the lighting is dim and cold.
- It would help if you had mirrors. Mirrors expand the light.
- Glass and crystal are all reflective and will add sparkle and light to a darker space.
Go with the flow. You can never turn a dim, cool-lit room into a light, airy space. However, sophisticated and serene works too. I have always loved the look where the drapes coordinate with the wall color.
- Consider lightening up the floors
How can I have a post about gray without having at least one fabulous room by Loi Thai?
I’ve posted this room before, but it bears repeating. One of my fave Windsor Smith interiors.
All the fine art paintings are the work of the magnificent John Singer Sargent.
I hope you enjoyed this post about gray paint in a north-facing room!