Design Dilemma #7: How do I Decorate a South-Facing Room?

Often thought to be a homeowner’s dream, south-facing rooms (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) have an abundance of natural light throughout the day. This can bring its own challenges however. Read on to discover our tips for decorating these sun-filled spaces.

It all starts with space planning

Planning an effective layout is key to any space but particularly important in a south-facing room where sunlight plays such an important role. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose the function of the room, you’ll most likely decide to use it as a living space, where you and your family spend most of your time. In so doing, not only will you benefit from plenty of daylight during the day but also from passive heating in the winter.


Furniture should be positioned so that no one has to directly face the sun and if it’s a space for watching TV or using a computer, make sure light isn’t shining directly onto screens. It’s also worth remembering that during the winter months, the sun is lower in the sky, casting light deeper into our homes, so direct sunlight might penetrate further than you think.

The pick of the palette

When it comes to choosing colours, the sky’s the limit. The warm light in a south-facing room will make everything appear more golden, especially on a sunny day. Pale colours will accentuate the feeling of light and space. Those with a rich (i.e. red or yellow) undertone, will maximize the sense of warmth while soft blues and greens will create a fresher feel. You can even use really cool blue or architectural greys - colours best avoided in other spaces - to create a very modern look.These colours balance the intensity of the natural light, appearing crisp and contemporary rather than cold and sterile.


When it comes to stronger colours, the only hue to treat with caution is red which is likely to dial up the sense of heat. Otherwise, the choice is yours but, as always, make sure you test samples of colours and fabrics in situ. The light, although abundant, will change significantly throughout the day - cooler in the morning and warmer later on - so it’s essential that you look at your samples at different times of day before making a final decision.

Tame the glare

As lovely as it is to have sun streaming through the windows, there will be times when you want to soften the light or block it out completely. Sheer blinds or curtains are a perfect way of countering the intensity of the sun, ensuring a south-facing room remains full of light but in a softer, more controlled way.


In a kitchen space, roller blinds are a neat solution and can be fitted to rooflights as well as standard windows. This is particularly important when the space below needs to be shaded from direct sunlight overhead.


For maximum flexibility, partner sheers with curtains lined with blackout fabric.The blackout will not only ensure light is blocked out completely when needed but it has an essential role in protecting your curtain fabric from damage caused by direct sunlight. Your curtains will therefore stay looking beautiful for much longer.

Don’t forget light after dark

It’s easy to be distracted by the fabulous natural light in a south-facing room and forget that it will disappear at some point in the day! It’s then essential to ensure you have the right sort of lighting to keep the drama and ambience going of an evening. It’s light and shade that gives a space character so don’t rely solely on a central pendant or rows of downlights that cast a very even, flat light. Instead, use table and floor lamps of varying size and heights to create cosy, inviting corners and spaces where people will want to linger. And always, always ensure wall and ceiling lights are controlled by a dimmer switch for maximum flexibility.