eviech

Warm white paint for a dark North facing living room in England

Evie C.H.
4 years ago
last modified: 3 years ago

Can you please recommend some paint colours for my living room. My budget is small, so I hope to find the right one amongst the high street brands, such as Crown, Dulux etc. I'd appreciate if you could suggest some names. I have a long North facing room, patio doors at one (narrow) end of it are the only source of natural light. The room has to fit many functions - living, office and dining space - so I want something light and neutral, that is easy to both focus and relax in. You can see in the photos how dark it is - the photo was taken on a really sunny day with the lights on. (Sorry about the mess - we just moved, so all still in boxes) I am thinking of starting out with a loose Scandi feel and then build up a more colourful, eclectic look with rugs, cushions, wall art etc. It is currently intensely magnolia, which despairs me! I’d love a warm white, without a strong undertone. I know that it is the yellow based whites that I should go for (which explains the previous owner’s magnolia choice!), but there are so many out there that I could spend my whole budget on tester pots! Thank you! PS. Once I solved the paint dilemma, I'll come back to get help with artificial lighting - as we have to keep lights on during the daytime!


Comments (37)

  • Tracy Sidaway
    4 years ago
    We have Timeless by Dulux in our North facing lounge. Really brightened up the room but still looks warm.
    Evie C.H. thanked Tracy Sidaway
  • Joanna Biddolph
    4 years ago

    Well, I agree with the many interior designers who say if a room is dark ... go dark. Otherwise it will always be a room struggling to be light. I've done that in my sitting room, two bedrooms and the shower room - all dark and north facing. Now all calm and my pictures look stunning against the colours. The sitting room is in a terracotta. One bedroom is teal; the other is olive green below the picture rail and an olive-lime above it and on the ceiling. The shower room is bronze. It might sound hideous but they are all wow - and it's not only me who thinks it's worked. Paint the radiators the same colour as the walls. If those colours sound too much, what about a mustard yellow a bit like the cushion on your sofa? I'd choose a slightly stronger mustard (but not a dull or muddy mustard) for below the picture rail and the rail itself plus the door and architraves, and window frames, and two or three shades lighter for above the picture rail and ceiling. Then you'll need table lamps and uplighters to create relaxing ambient light and atmosphere. Go with the dark - don't fight it!

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    colourhappy
    4 years ago

    Would love to see some pictures Joanna, I love olives and bronzes. This is such a difficult dilemma as I would say most of the interiors images we see are in light airy rooms that look fabulous white, how many are in dark North facing rooms? I do think we get a bit seduced by the whole white scandi look, but it's not necessarily achievable in our own homes. Kate Watson - Smyth's blog (and book) addresses this very issue, but I do find some of the grey interiors a bit too 'grey' at times. I don't use Crown or dulux but I know that F&B Shadow White is an interesting colour as it is neither yellow/cream nor grey and therefore sits on the middle. I use it on all my woodwork and the slightly darker Shaded white in light starved rooms. Good luck.

    http://www.madaboutthehouse.com/category/my-house/

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thanks for all your comments.

    Joanna, bronze shower room sounds amazing! And I like the sound of your olive paint too! Could we see some pictures?

    I definitely see how going dark can be good, and have seen dark painted rooms looking stunning! My dilemma is that we are in this room all day long, as we both work from home, and I know I wont manage to live with dark walls all the time. If we had a separate space to relax in, I would love to go dark and cosy in it.

    I do like the sound of mustardy colour, we did actually consider a rich yellow at the beginning. Might revisit it!

  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    So, if you spend a lot of time in this room working from home, would you consider having your workspaces in the lightest part, where the dining table now is? Maybe you could have a long shelf along the left wall that you could both use as a desk?

    And then in the evenings, for dinner and watching TV or whatever, you move to the darker part of the room? Just an idea :-)
  • Carolina
    4 years ago
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  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Colourhappy, oh I know, I keep looking at all these beautiful interiors on here and thinking: but look at their huge windows!! Look at the light that's streaming in!

    Should I be looking at other colours? Like mustard yellow suggested above..

    I have thought of grey - we painted our (South East facing) bedroom grey (Polished Pebble - Dulux) and it looks so warm and lovely, but I put an A4 test in the living room and it's just dull...

    The room has to fit so many functions that I thought it might be easier to tie it all in if I go for a simple warm white...

    My plan is light walls that are easy to spend a lot of time in, then adding colour and warmth with furnishings and accessories. And cosy lighting for the evening.

    Currently these bits are definitely staying:

    Sofa. Which I want to pile high with mismatched cushions.

    Large bronze framed mirror. Which I looooove!


    A warm wood desk with black legs, I don't have a photo.

    I am thinking something like this for the ceiling light


    We have lots of artwork that needs framing, so that could bring in a lot of colour.

    Also thinking about a mustard colour rug, a round glass top coffee table.

  • PRO
    colourhappy
    4 years ago

    You could just have one wall dark to introduce some atmosphere. In my darkish lounge I painted two walls Mouses Back and two shaded white. I wanted my sofas to disappear into the wall and to highlight the lighter floor. I really like it as it works during the day and in the evening. Getting the lighting right was tricky but having wall lights has helped.


  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Our living room is pretty dark, because our house is surrounded by trees, and I have the lights in a lot of the time. We use strips with LED spots that are directed towards the walls. They light up the art too, added bonus.
    We had warm light first, but they were too pink. Then changed them to cool light, too blue. We found the perfect ones, but I forgot which Kelvin number they are. No brain for numbers. Will ask the husband when he comes home tonight.

    Also, I find that if you have light in the corners of the room and around the walls, it makes the room look larger. So don't depend on a central ceiling light only.
  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    I love the colour that you have on the wall, colourhappy. Beautiful.

    If you paint only one long wall darker, it also gives the illusion of space.
  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Caroline, thanks for bringing up the lighting! This is something I am working on, too. Was planning to post a question about it on Houzz.
    We have the lights on all the time, too and I am thinking of adding some cool white in the corners, especially for the daytime. I just ordered some to try out - at 3000k, 3500k and 4000k (standard is 2700k) (I've done my homework haha!!) Please, do ask your husband what you've gone for.

    Do you have any photos of how you used the lights?

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I could possibly paint the sofa wall darker, but would it not make the room seem longer? What are calm colours I could look at?

    Here's my quick attempt at laying it out. It is about 3.50 x 6.50m


    Carolina, your idea about workspace would make sense, but there is not enough depth in the dining bit for it. Also, it leads into the kitchen, so the table there feels right.

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Carolina, just received the 3000k lightbulbs - what a difference in the room! I feel like I someone just removed a gauze from my eyes! :))
    Lets see how 3500k and 4000k will look, but I suspect they will be too cool, looking at this.

  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Aha, couldn't see the door in the dining space earlier. Thought it was a full wall.
  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Some pics, so you can see the difference. We placed the strips close to the walls. It's a bright day and the trees don't have leaves on them yet, so it's not too dark today.
  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Another corner in the living room. Ours gets light from all sides except the north.
  • PRO
    colourhappy
    4 years ago

    Carolina, it looks fabulous.

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Carolina, beautiful space!
    It's lovely how the spots pic up the artwork, and just add so much depth to the room, as well as light.
    This is giving me lots of ideas. And confidence that I can actually resolve this.
    Thanks a lot for sharing

  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Thanks :-)

    And you're welcome.

    3000 Kelvin, 3.5 watt are our spots, that are warm enough for us without being too pink.
  • Joanna Biddolph
    4 years ago

    I will post some photos as soon as I can. In response to your comment about not wanting to work in a room with dark walls, I'd like to emphasise that it is highly unlikely that, in any room, you won't have something on those walls. People who worry about strong or dark colours think it is going to be on every inch with no relief. It is all-surrounding when you are painting it but then pictures are hung, table lamps and lampshades add interest, you'll have lovely things on tables, perhaps some plants ... it breaks it up. I would so love you to be brave. I've never found a single F&B colour worth using; they are all so safe. I like to use colours I love. I am a fan of Kate Watson-Smyth's blog - I love her suggestions for how to arrange rooms or add focal points and what's new and what is going out of style - but I am frustrated by her love of grey. It's grey! Recently, she admitted being scared about using colour; I've never been scared to do so. I mentioned lighting in my first comment; others have, too. I hate overhead lights; they are so harsh and interrupting. I prefer table lamps and uplighters; they shed a lovely light. If I need to read, I have one nearby or sit near a standard lamp - with a jazzy lampshade that goes with the room. Dark colours are broken up by lovely things and lighting, even quite simple lighting which creates a really calm, warm, welcoming atmosphere. In a bedroom there's the bedlinen, bedside tables, furniture, pictures, a mirror ... it all breaks it up. In the space you work in, there will be bookshelves, pictures, make, a feature of storage boxes or files, a lamp on your desk. You will never have a room with endless dark walls. Look at the lovely dark room above - there are paintings on the wall above the sofa and wall lights. There are other things hanging on the wall next to the sofa. On the other side, there's an orchid on the bookshelf; a lovely table lamp and lampshade ... it works!

  • Sarah West
    4 years ago
    We had this exact problem in our north facing dining room. We painted it in light gold by Little Greene and now the walls look like sunshine! The mustard yellow really counters the greyness in the northern light. We also put in a vintage 1940's chandelier with 3000k LED Edison style dimmer bulbs and a log burner in the fireplace to take the chill off the room, now it's lovely!
  • PRO
    colourhappy
    4 years ago

    Sarah, that sounds lovely, would love to see. I can't see Light Gold on my colour chart....?

  • Joanna Biddolph
    4 years ago

    It's on the web - though I know the colour might look different on screens; here the link I found; https://www.littlegreene.com/light-gold-25610

  • PRO
    colourhappy
    4 years ago

    yes, gorgeous thanks.

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    I hear yah, Joanna. I definitely am aware that there won't be a big expanse of colour. I thought of that when considering the white paint too.
    Knowing how much I get affected by light and colour I still am strongly leaning towards white. But I will get some test pots to see a darker colour on the wall.

    Any suggestions on colour or colour combos (if one wall only) based on the furniture I already have? (see my early comment). I prefer complementing colours rather than contrasting.

    And which wall, if it was just one (I am thinking the one with the sofa against it)

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Sarah, yes, the 3000k bulbs made such a difference! I only got them yesterday as a test and it was as if I got a new pair of specs!
    I now need a dimmer switch and then to work out the best lighting plan for the rest. Very excited by how much I can achieve with lighting!
    Hail the LEDs :)

  • minnie101
    4 years ago

    Hi. If you want to stick to a white what about little Greene slaked lime 105 shown in the picture or their whitening which is a lovely chalky white? The paint is dear but coverage is excellent. I love the mirror you've chosen but perhaps add another to bounce light? I also like the pendant light but I wonder how much the frosted shades will block light? You can get similar lights with just the bulbs

    http://www.designerpaint.com/brands/little-greene


    St Ives, Cornwall · More Info

  • minnie101
    4 years ago
  • Sinead
    4 years ago

    Wallpaper some of the new ones are just gorgeous and could work well on one feature wall the one with the rad along with paint and lighting as suggestions above.


    Also mirrors will assist greatly with lighting to give the impression of brighter space. Enjoy making it your own. :)

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Minnie101, thanks, I'll try Slaked Lime. And agree re mirror - I want to put a large one where the small one hangs now (only because that's all we have at the moment)

    I prefer diffused light, so am looking at chandeliers with white globes. But this type is actually hard to find in the UK, most are shipping from US.
    If you know any lighting shops - please give me some tips!

    Sinead, we might go for wallpaper in the bathroom, but I don't want it in the living room. I got some good ideas on here, things to consider, look at the room afresh. But actually now am leaning back towards the initial idea of white walls... (But I did order some darker tester pots already, so we'll see!)

  • Joanna Biddolph
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Hi Evie. The reason I've been slow to post photos is because my house is very much still a building site and work in very slow progress. I have flung paint on walls a relief from 1927 plaster and peeling wallpaper that went up decades ago. I haven't hung pictures yet as the walls are so hard - picture hooks break - and the friend who is going to do the task hasn't yet been. So, none of these photos will persuade you to use colour - the walls are bleak. But I'm posting them in the right spirit. As for feature walls, I have never liked them. For info, Kate Watson-Smyth said, in a recent post, that they are "so ova". I associate them with the 1970s, which is when I believe they first emerged. I like all over colour; I find it much less intrusive than one wall that stands out awkwardly. As for my furniture, it's mostly interim - on loan as I had nothing after chucking out my two sofas which I bitterly regret. Anyway, with all those embarrassing provisos, here we go.

    Terracotta sitting room: Caravan by Paper & Paint Library (it's not a current colour; my local independent paint shop keeps records of previous colours and identified it for me); it goes up to the picture rail; I haven't yet found the colour I want above it and on the ceiling; the picture rail, window frames, doors and door frames will all be Caravan, too; the room is really bitty (four doors, jutting out bits, fussy door and windows into the garden, a big fireplace, original tiles around the fire area that I wanted to complement but tone down, and a busy stained glass window) and needs blanket coverage to make it seem less busy.

    .Green bedroom: Sanderson Laurel below the picture rail; Goblin Green above it and on the ceiling; picture rail and all other woodwork not yet painted; I might do them in a linen colour to tie in with the bed frame though I hate the bed frame and am desperate for a new one. You can see that I'm work in progress by the undealt-with and unpainted grille covering the hole where the fireplace was. Hideous and offensive; longing to put it right. Lots of pictures/paintings to be hung all over.

    Blue bedroom: This blue is a bit flat but it was only after painting it that I discovered the colour I really want - Abigail Ahern's Bowery Blue which despite being intense has a real lift to it giving it life and vibrancy. The ceiling in here is the wrong blue (bought in haste); I will use a lighter blue. The unhung painting on the right (sorry it's not more visible) is so much more vibrant against this blue than it was against the pale yellow of the wall it was hung on in my previous home. I will have mirrors above the bedhead and a gallery wall opposite plus a mirror near the small window to throw a bit more light in this seriously dark bedroom (dismally dark before I painted it interestingly dark).

    Bronze shower room: Impossible to photograph this as it's a tiny room; the tiles in the shower area are subtly jazzy and moody. I love having it open (I grew up in India where all showers were in the middle of the room so I've never understood the closed-in box version or the fiddly over the bath option). The bronze tiles are much richer in colour than the photo conveys; the walls are Sanderson Brick Light which looks pale and peculiar in this photo; it is a lot more interesting than on the paint card and picks up on colours streaking through the tiles; it's not such a stark contrast as the photo conveys.

    That's it. The bedroom that will be a mustardy yellow isn't painted yet so I can't show the walls in there. And, again, apologies for the really unsophisticated furniture and mismatched upholstery, etc. Lots still to be done!

  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Joanna, thanks so much for these! Don't worry, I have looked at enough interiors to be able to picture where you're heading... I LOVE the blue bedroom! Along with the bedding - I too love mad patterned colourful bedding!

    Ha, feature wall - yup, I remember that from home makeover shows 15 years ago, but I have seen them more recently, looking especial great in nooks.

    Am trying to keep an open mind to all suggestions, as it really helps to see the room with fresh perspective. But I think this exercise in visualising different things again, has re-affirmed that I want to go light on the walls.


    Re your issue nailing into the wall properly... Have you seen these strips. I have only used small ones on lighter frames (when I was in a rental and didn't want to mark the walls), but I believe the larger ones can hold quite a bit of weight.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Command-Picture-Frame-Hanging-Strips/dp/B00PLVLD86/ref=pd_sim_60_6?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=EN859TG54KZ2EMW60YZ0


  • Joanna Biddolph
    4 years ago

    I got the duvet covers in both rooms from Pottery Barn, an American company. The cotton is such good quality (takes ages to dry, of course). The drawback is that their pillowcases are a different size - over there, the matching pillowcases are supposed to be for show only and are for smaller pillows. I've had to unpick the Oxford ends and my pillows only just squeeze in; one day, I'll attack them properly.

    No, I haven't seen those hanging strips and I'll give them a try. Most of my pictures are seriously heavy and probably need nails but some are lighter.

    It will all come together when pictures, mirrors and clocks are up on the walls, and off the dining room floor, after which I can move my things around and, eventually, put down carpets. There is masses more to do but I've also done masses ... rewired, replumbed, new kitchen, new bathroom, new shower room, new separate loo. Once the big things are done (if I ever reach that stage) I'll replace the light switch plates and sockets - I need bronze or brass to go with the door furniture (the originals) and disappear against the colours. Details, details!

  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    @Joanna, beautiful colours, love the blue bedroom too and I wanted to suggest the command hooks to you also. My American friends love them. I've never used them, so don't know how much weight they hold, but could be worth a study :-)
  • Carolina
    4 years ago
    Evie, this website has some great lighting, amongst other nice items. https://furnish.co.uk/
  • Evie C.H.
    Original Author
    last month

    For anyone reading - I’ve gone for Crown Priory. Surprisingly it has a subtle underlying warmth that suits the light. I also have the overhead lighting at 4000k to use in the daytime and lots of lamps and wall lights for the evening with standard 2700k

Ireland
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