Painting Tips: North vs. South Facing Windows

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Learning how light comes in through your windows in your home may be confusing. Learn all about north vs. south-facing windows and how they affect the paint colors you choose for your whole home color palette


North vs. South Facing Windows and Paint Colors

Windows in your home let in natural light and fresh air and provide a view of the outdoors.

Even if you’re building a new construction home, you may not have much control over the direction your home faces which means you’ll have to work with what you have.

The direction that your windows face has a significant effect on the appearance of interior paint colors. It determines how much light is let into the room during daylight hours, affecting how paint colors appear.

One of the most important decisions you will make when choosing the paint colors for your home is whether you have north or south-facing windows and how they will affect your choices.  

What Is a North Facing Window?

When referring to a north-facing window, that means that when you’re looking out of that window, the direction on a compass would read north.

Both north-facing and south-facing windows get sunlight all day long. This is great if you have plants that need all-day sunlight, but it’s also helpful to know what a north-facing window would do to paint colors.

The light that comes through a north-facing window is very weak lighting, making the lighting that does come in appear blue or cool.

Fun fact: A north-facing window is the only window with a cool, bluish tint to its light. So if you feel like you see more blue lights in your house all day, chances are it’s a north-facing window.

The amount of light coming through a north-facing window is consistent, yes, but it’s not going to be very strong, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.

What Is A South Facing Window?

Like the opposite of a north-facing window, a south-facing window also gets sunlight all day.

The difference is that a south-facing window will get stronger light, and it appears more yellow or orange, much like the sun itself. This means instead of cool light like you’d get from a north-facing window, the light in a south-facing window will be much warmer.

South-facing windows are great for taking advantage of natural sunlight. They let in more light than north-facing windows, making them perfect for rooms that need a little extra brightness or warmth.

Paint Colors In North vs. South Facing Windows

Colors play a huge role in how we perceive our surroundings, so it’s essential to consider which side of the house a room is on when choosing paint colors.

white and gold Beddy's bedding with white bedskirt and rattan vintage headboard

Suppose you’re going with a white paint color like Sherwin Williams Alabaster, or you’re going for a darker and bolder look like a dark green paint color like we did in our shared girls’ room.

It’s always going best to paint a test swatch on your wall so that you can see how your north-facing window or south-facing window will affect the color.

Psst! Don’t want to buy a million samples of paint you may not end up using? Try the peel and stick wall samples from Samplize instead!

Neutral Paint Colors

What do neutral colors do in north-facing rooms?

When you think neutral paint colors, think colors that don’t have very obvious or heavy undertones.

Yes, sometimes neutral colors are greige, grey, or white. They can also be very dark colors like Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (we used this for our lower cabinets) or even Sherwin Williams Iron Ore which we used for all of our interior doors.

Neutral colors will feel cool in the north-facing window. If the color has any hint of a blue or purple undertone, it will show itself much more than any other facing window.

Also, colors will feel darker because even though the light comes through all day, the light is weaker.

What do neutral colors do in south-facing rooms?

Because of the warmth from a south-facing room, paint colors will look warmer and often even darker.

If you have a paint color with yellow or orange undertones, be prepared for them to show in a south-facing room.

Warm Paint Colors

What do warm paint colors do in north-facing rooms?

The cool, weak light from a north-facing room will work against any warm undertones in a paint color.

grid of 4 photos with text overlay that says Sherwin Williams Snowbound

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that if you have a paint color with obvious warm undertones like Sherwin Williams Snowbound, you may get a more “even” or neutral color.

What do warm paint colors do in south-facing rooms?

Warm paint colors in warm lighting will add a layer of depth to your paint color, especially if they’re lighter or even white.

You can have a warm white paint color feel very cozy instead of sterile.

Expect your warm paint colors to have more pigment and show warmer in a south-facing room.

Cool Paint Colors

What do cool paint colors do in north-facing rooms?

Cool colors like blue and green will show very true to the swatch in north-facing rooms. 

Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray graphic

A color as beautiful as Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray will show more of its true blue and green undertones in the cool north-facing light.

What do cool paint colors do in south-facing rooms?

In south-facing rooms, most of the time they feel warm. Still, there will be a particular time of day when the sun is so bright in the space that it may wash some of the colors out, especially if you have a room with a lot of windows.

A cool paint color will feel balanced and cozy in a south-facing room.


north vs. south facing windows graphic

Sometimes choosing a paint color can be super overwhelming, and then add in the fact that you need to consider the direction of sunlight coming in from your windows, and it can get a little frustrating.

Remember to take your time in choosing and trying out paint colors, but also remember that it’s just paint, and if you make a mistake, it’s easily fixable!

Similar Posts