Yellow Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore’s mellow yellow (CC2020-50)

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.)

Northern Exposure

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.

Southern Exposure
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

Benjamin Moore "Cloud White"

Benjamin Moore “Cloud White” and others

Benjamin Moor color "Flurry" off white

Benjamin Moore color “Flurry” whites

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.

Western Exposure
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.





Avant Garde - One of the four themes in The Mansion at Sofitel Macau

Avant Garde – One of the four themes in The Mansion at Sofitel Macau

Last week Jack and Jill were in a muddle with their choice of a dark paint color. To get out of their jam, they called in a professional. They knew the eggplant color had an edge, but they didn’t know how to use it. The designer explained how color, tone and value can work to their advantage. Together they created an environment that fit their lifestyle.

Dark colors, like eggplant, black and rich dark-chocolate brown can be a brilliant backdrop for art, furnishings, upholstery and more . . .  simply by contrast and color. You can see how the light colors pop against the dark walls in the picture above. Any room can be painted in dark colors–living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms. These dark colors are not new, they have been used forever. Dark wood walls, beams, wood floors  and furnishings were all used in the early centuries.

All the paint manufacturers have rich dark colors, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Farrow & Ball all make quality paints. Sometimes, although you’ve chosen a dark color, it takes two coats to cover the paint on the walls to get the cover and depth those tones create. So how do you do this? Houzz, a popular site filled with design and decorating information has the answers with pictures: Here’s the link for you.

Last week’s blog talked about tonal distribution, and according to Ethel Rompilla’s and the New York School of Interior Design, Color for Interior Design, tonal distribution is a fundamental principle that goes back to the earliest interiors with the concept of nature’s distribution of tonal values. We feel more comfortable in a room with a light ceiling, medium walls, and dark floors, which parallel the tonal values of the sky, trees and earth. Understanding that, there are numerous variations and exceptions to the theory–like the walls of the black bedroom at Boscotrecase, and the still popular dark wood paneling in traditional rooms seen in the early centuries. In the 1960s to today, we love the variations of the dark walls and lighter floors in contemporary spaces.

This week we are also addressing chromatic distribution. A second general rule follows nature’s distribution of vivid color in its accessories, such as birds and flowers, and is also allied to Munsell’s theory that strong colors should not overpower weaker ones. The guideline states that the largest areas of a room, such as floor, walls and ceiling, should be the most neutral. As size is decreased chromatic value can be increased. Furniture or draperies can be brighter, and small upholstered items or accessories and other accents can be the most chromatic. Many successful interiors break this rule, but you should be aware that there is a chromatic range on walls in which, depending on the light, an intense color can become intolerable.

To be continued . . .

Other news . . . My publisher, Soul Mate Publishing, has  blogger hosts C.D. Hersh, featuring my book, Indigo Sky, on their Friday, April 29, 2016 blog. I would be honored if you visit and comment. Here’s the link: http://wp.me/p1tsn7-16j



And the Lord said, Genesis 1:3

“Let there be light.” And then there was light. Genesis 1:3

The Lord said, “Let there be Light.”  And there was light.  (Genesis 1:3).

We depend on light for lots of reasons. You can probably name five right now. Like:  the grass, the flowers, the trees, vitamin D, good mental health. Light, the fulfillment of life.

Section of my studio. the space is 30'x14'

Section of my studio. the space is 30’x14′

I am writing this in my studio, and there is light. North light, with which to paint by. So, what does  that mean? Does it mean if I am doing something other than painting, the room’s light is worthless? No . . . this is a functional, beautiful space. This is where I work all day. I write, design, paint, listen to music. I just took this photo from my messy desk. I usually keep that back wall open for art that I am working on. Right now, I am writing my book.

North light facing room

North light facing room

Light is not a mystery, it is an awareness. We are addressing the light of nature, from outside, that would penetrate the house, the building, the bodega,  not to be mixed up  with artificial light, like lamps and recessed lighting. But what happens when a room suffers from no natural light or north light?

Do you have a room with little light, except for a few lamps? Darn, you say, what do I do with that room, it is so depressing? Right? Okay, so let’s talk about this natural light, where it comes from, and what it does. AND, what to do with your dark, gloomy room.

Colors good for a room facing north light

Colors good for a room facing north light

A north light room is perfect for art painting because there are no reflections to distort the picture. It is the truest light that an artist can have. North light is a constant cool, soft light, never sunshiny. So even on a rainy day, we love it. Sunlight creates reflection and light bounce, so even if the north light doesn’t have the sun in it, the light does have a reflected brightness, except when stormy. Without going into artificial light, the way to bring life to the space is with color and texture. Paint the walls a deep warm color, like Benjamin Moore’s “Designer Selective Colors: #861 or similar, (warm grays work), in an Eggshell finish (not flat), ceilings, bright white (flat finish) and all trim, bright white (satin or glossy finish). Use other reflective objects and finishes, like leather upholstery, or coffee table in leather, or glass, if you don’t have little kids. Something stainless steel or shiny chrome. Tile floor, with area rugs. Smaller reflective objects, like porcelain, small mirrors. Go for it, those implants will bring light into the space.

We have not yet discussed artificial light that do other types of brightening to a space. We can do wonders with ambient, task and accent lighting. Maybe next week?

Have you ever noticed how lighting is used on stage. Last night’s “American Idol” did some clever lighting, as they always do. Especially with Kree’s  performance. Her stage set appeared as though she was in space.

What do you think? How much would you like to learn about lighting up your life?



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