When you plan a room, always remember the available light, both natural and artificial. Natural light is dependent on exposure. That’s why, when choosing paint colors for a room, it’s smart to look at color samples in the actual space and under different lighting conditions.
For the best test, buy a paint color sample and paint a small area on the surface of the wall. Observe how the color looks at different times of the day, in natural and artificial light. Then you will get a sense of what your room will look like throughout the day.
Here are some suggestions from designer and Dabble Magazine Editor in Chief Kimberley Seldon to help you choose the best paint colors for rooms that are exposed to sunlight from the north, south, east, and west. (Note: artificial light will further affect the appearance of colors.)
Light from the north is indirect and cool, and can appear gray depending on where you live. To counterbalance this effect, choose a yellow or cream such as Benjamin Moore’s flurry (CC-100), barley (CC-180), or buttermilk (919); and warm, pale pinks and corals like pink moiré (CC-158) and tofino sunset (CC-156) to amplify the sunlight. For me, I had my art studio built with three huge windows to let in the northern light so that I see true color for my paintings. This northern exposure offers the correct light in order to photograph my work for publications. The walls are painted a neutral gray/beige (#969), and the ceiling is a bright white. So if you want a cheery room, the colors suggested here are a good choice. Check them out.
Warm southerly light lasts the longest and can become intense at mid-day. A mid-tone color such as lavender lipstick (2072-50) will look fresh in the daytime and become richer at night. Rich blues and greens lose intensity but can appear to glow. Try meadowlands green (2036-40), winter green (2045-60), or serenity (2055-60). Browns appear less somber in southern light. Go for a warm, earthy hue like rich clay brown (2164-30).
Eastern exposure provides bright, yellow light that’s ideal for high-activity rooms like kitchens, playrooms, and family rooms. That’s why the light of the eastern exposure is perfect for a breakfast room. Pale colors look fabulous. Warm pinks, corals, yellows, or whites like pink bliss (2093-70), cloud white (OC-130), snowfall white (OC-118), or milkyway (OC-110) will enhance the light, while cool blues and greens like blue bonnet (2050-70) will temper it. There are a myriad of whites, and they are rarely stark, except for ceilings. Pure white walls can be tiring.
Green and cream work well in the muted, late afternoon sunlight of a western exposure. Try pairing adam green (2037-40) with mellow yellow (2020-50), or green with envy (2036-30) with marble white (OC-34). Complementary colors, such as green and red, are not quite as garish. Reds appear richer and less flat because they absorb light. A red like warm comfort (2010-20) is a good choice for rooms that require drama and intimacy, such as dining rooms.
Remember also, that the window treatments can shut out the natural light, or admit light, depending on your design choices.
When you choose artificial lighting be aware of the type of bulbs that are available today. They vary in color. The LED’s are usually a perky white light. Lighting today can be dimmed. I always seek out the brightest white light because it keeps your colors crisp. Lighting is another huge subject to discuss. When you want to choose lighting for your home or office, go to a dependable lighting store, for example, here in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, my favorite store is Klaff’s in Norwalk.
Ever since 1969 when I was a student at the New York School of Interior Design, I have been a faithful client of Benjamin Moore Paints. Their paints have stood the test of time. Benjamin Moore reps visited and demonstrated how and when to use their paints to my students at my school, Interior Design Institute, in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, and supplied each student with paint chip books, a valuable tool for interior designers.
|Visit our Colour Gallery to get more room colour scheme ideas. (On-screen colour representations may differ slightly from actual paint colours due to monitor calibration.)
Get more decorating tips from our All About Colour videos featuring Kimberley Seldon.