Published on November 26, 2019

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Have you ever found yourself staring at a wall full of paint chips in a brightly lit hardware store wondering whether or not you might be making a mistake by choosing pure white over extra-white? After all, looking at 3,000-plus options under artificial lighting is hardly the most conducive way to best decide on decor.

Narrowing down your color choices when you’re away from your home is hard enough on its own, but it also overlooks one major factor. “The same color can appear quite different from room to room at different times of the day, even depending on the time of year,” says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball. No wonder harsh fluorescents do little more than confuse you. 

In fact, Cosby says there is one thing she ponders above all when making paint color choices: the amount of natural light the room gets, considering the direction that the windows face. “That will have a significant impact on the appearance of a color,” she adds. Here’s how she matches Farrow & Ball shades to any room.

If Your Room Is North Facing…

“Colors will tend to appear cooler and harsher in north-facing rooms, making it difficult to create a feeling of lightness,” says Cosby. “Don’t fight nature.” Instead, she recommends creating a cozy space by using saturated tones such as Farrow & Ball’s Scotch Blue or Duck Green. “Strong colors soften a room,” she says.

If Your Room Is South Facing…

This direction gets the largest amount of natural exposure, so take full advantage of it. “Try using a red-based neutral like Orange Colored White or Joa’s White in a south-facing room to maximize the warm light,” says the expert. The sun-drenched look will lift your spirits when the rays hit the room just right.

If Your Room Is West Facing…

Rooms facing west get little natural light in the morning, but they often have a bonus of great sunset views. “Use a red-based neutral such as Oxford Stone or Skimmed Milk White to accentuate the light created by the evening sun,” says Cosby. You’ll have premium seats for pink and yellow skies on offer each night.

If Your Room Is East Facing…

Early birds love east-facing rooms: the ones that get all that glorious morning light. “Try using soft greens and blues such as Skylight or Pale Powder to create as much space as possible,” recommends Cosby. Of course, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, her tips for north- and south-facing rooms are simply reversed, while the advice for east- and west-facing rooms stays the same.

Browse more paint color ideas:
6 Paint Colors You’ll Never Find in an Interior Designer’s Home
The 7 Paint Colors Featured in Our Favorite White Kitchens
Hands Down: The 10 Best Blue Paint Colors for Kitchen Cabinets

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