Choosing Colour and Creating Light


When it comes to choosing colour there are no strict rules, but it is important to think about the final look you are trying to achieve, and particularly to consider the light in a space.

Farrow and Ball

Farrow and Ball

Light is the most important thing to consider when choosing colour for your home, as the amount of natural light and the direction a room faces will have a significant impact on the appearance of a colour.  The same colour can appear quite different from room to room, at different times of the day, and even depending on the time of year.  This variance is unique to Farrow & Ball and while we think it is beautiful, we know it can add an extra level of complexity to your colour choice.

If your room is north facing colours will tend to appear cooler and harsher, making it difficult to create a feeling of light and space.  Don’t fight nature, instead create a dramatic and cocooning interior by using strong colours like Brinjal, Book Room Red of Down Pipe.  If you do want to use lighter tones, avoid those with a green or grey base, instead use yellow based colours like Ringwood Ground and White Tie to help bounce light around the room.

South facing rooms are a joy to decorate – they are full of warm light all day, so all colours will look good!  We recommend really maximising the feeling of light and space in south facing rooms by choosing pale tones.  Soft blues like Pavilion Blue or Borrowed Light will create a wonderfully watery seaside look, while red-based neutrals like Joa’s White will create a warmer feel.  For a contemporary edge, try Dimpse which has cool blue undertones.  Use a fairly bright white on the woodwork in south facing rooms for a crisp, fresh look.

Farrow and Ball

Farrow and Ball

It is useful to consider whether you’ll use an east or west facing room more in the morning or the afternoon, so that you can tailor your colour choice to the type of light you will most often experience. Light in west-facing spaces is cooler in the morning then filled with dramatic light in the afternoon, while east facing rooms are bright in the morning and cooler in the afternoon.

White walls are natural light reflectors and will flatter any colour of furnishing which is often why we choose neutrals for our homes, but white will really enhance both natural and artificial light in west facing rooms.  Try Wimborne White or Pointing for an airy feel.  Even the greyer neutrals such as Slipper Satin and Ammonite should retain a feeling of light – although the colour will change from morning to evening – cooler earlier and warmer later.

West facing rooms are most beautiful in the afternoon and evening sun, and by using colours with a red undertone you can really accentuate the warm light in the space.  Soft pinks like Middleton Pink or Great White will create a really warm glow without losing too much light.

The light in east facing rooms can appear to be a little blue so it is best to work with this and choose greens or blues.  To create as much light as possible but still retain some warmth, look at pale duck egg colours like Pale Powder or Teresa’s Green which will really come alive in the morning sunlight. Because the light will change so dramatically through the day it is often good to team these with a darker tone on woodwork or furniture such as Chappell Green or Dix Blue so that the walls appear lighter in contrast. If you want to use a white, choose one with a green or blue base such as James White.

When you’ve chosen a colour we recommend painting out a sample pot onto A4 paper or card to see how the colour works in your space, move it around the room and look at the colour at different times of the day so you can see how the colour is affected by the light.


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