The direction a room faces and the amount of natural light it receives have the greatest impact on how colours are perceived. And this is particularly true of white. In the Northern Hemisphere, north-facing rooms receive an even, indirect light that can appear cool and harsh. Best then to avoid cool blue, green or grey tinged whites which are likely to appear drab. Instead, choose warm whites with a yellow or red base that will do a better job of bouncing whatever light is available around the room.
South-facing rooms are a decorator’s dream and essentially you can’t go wrong with any off-white. So your choice then is influenced by other colours you plan to use, the architecture of the space and the ambience you want to create. As a general rule, cooler whites tend to look more contemporary and work beautifully with cooler blues, greens and greys. Warmer whites are more classic and the perfect compliment to reds, oranges and warmer hues.
East-facing rooms get the morning light which is usually bright and cool so choose cooler off-whites to work in harmony with this. In contrast, west-facing rooms are more muted in the morning and warmer in the evening. Warmer off-whites will therefore be the most effective choice. If you have a dual-aspect room, it’s important to recognise that the light will change dramatically throughout the day. Think about when you spend most time in these rooms and choose your off-white accordingly.
Finally, remember that artificial light will also have a dramatic impact on the colours in a space so always look at fabric and paint samples in situ and at different times of day before making a final decision.
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