As we head into winter and light levels take a dive, it’s good to have at least one room in the house that provides an oasis of light – and that’s relatively easy to achieve with a simple paint job. But before reaching for the colour charts, it’s worth finding a compass – because the direction in which a room faces dictates how much natural light it gets.

According to the experts light levels are key when it comes to choosing colours for a room.

That’s why we often find that a colour can look totally different once a wall is painted, from the way it looked in the pot. In fact, the same colour can even look different on walls in the same room.

North facing rooms are the most challenging when it comes to creating light and space, and where there’s little natural light, it’s probably best not to fight nature.  Just embrace the darkness and create a dramatic and cosy interior using strong colours such as greys,midnight blue or aubergine. Alternatively, yellow-based colours will help bounce as much light around the room as possible.

South facing rooms are much easier, and pretty much all colours will look good. To maximise the feeling of light and space, choose pale tones – perhaps soft blues to create a seaside look, or creamy taupe for a warmer feel. 

With an East or West facing room, first consider whether you’ll use it more in the morning or the afternoon, as the light in west-facing spaces is cooler in the morning and brighter in the afternoon, while east-facing rooms are bright in the morning and cooler in the afternoon.

White walls will enhance the light in West facing rooms, as will some of the greyer neutrals., although the colour will change from morning to evening.  

With East facing rooms the light can appear a little blue so it’s best to work with this and choose greens or blues, such as duck egg shades which will be bright in the morning. Since the light will change through the day it’s good to team these with darker tones of blue/green on woodwork or furniture so the walls appear lighter in contrast. If using a white, go for one with a green or blue base.