North South East West - How Light Affects Furniture and Home Decor

Beyond moving east to west across the sky every day, you may recall that the path of the sun shifts north and south as well, depending on the season and which hemisphere you’re located in. This astrological dance will change not only the way sun hits your home each day and throughout the year — it will also change the way light and colors are perceived inside your home, and can even affect how a room feels depending on factors like the room lighting, overhead lighting, if you have large windows, and much more. 

This can have profound effects on mood, wellbeing and even the physical temperature of any given room. Depending on the amount and type of light a room receives, this is a huge consideration when buying pieces of furniture and decorating your home, particularly when it comes to furniture placement in areas like the living room and any other living space where you'll be spending a lot of time in particular. 

The following tips are based on a location in the northern hemisphere at mid latitudes.

 

East-facing rooms are warmer and yellower in the morning with the rising sun, but can be dark and shadowy in the evening. These rooms work best with a cheery color palette to brighten them up for use in the later afternoon hours. For a kitchen/dining area, try yellow for your wall color and add warm wood tones, such as the Loyalist dining table, or accessories in gold or bronze metals. Light fixtures and wall sconces in earthy metallics work particularly well. 

 

West-facing rooms are going to be darker in the morning, but will usually be warm and glowing in the evening as the sun sets. These rooms may benefit from cooler colors to tone down brightness in the afternoon. Black metals tend to work well for contrast while not being as reflective as silver or bronze. Try The Diplomat Media Console for a living area or entertainment room. For small spaces, you'll also want to be extra considerate of what drapes you pick for this room as well as how you'll utilize the natural light sources to make for a comfortable interior design.

 

North-facing rooms receive less direct light and therefore have a tendency to feel cool or overcast. Avoid the dreariness of a dark room and warm it up with large focal point furniture items in bold, sunny colors like red, yellow and orange. Whom’s Newcomer accent chair in flamingo pink velvet could be just the pop of color to banish the gloom. Or if it’s a quiet, private room like a bedroom, you may want to embrace the cool color scheme. A bedframe in a cool mint or dark blue crushed micro chenille with greige walls can feel cozy and oh so cocoon-like.

 

South-facing rooms will consistently receive a lot of sun, especially in the winter (when the sun’s path across the sky moves to the south). Because of their bright, energetic nature, these rooms make great family rooms and entertaining areas. To keep these rooms from feeling too intense, you may want to tone down the colors with cool greens, blues and grays — consider a Whom Sofa in the color Dove. You might also stick to bright whites, earth tones and small amounts of accent colors to refrain from overly magnifying any one light frequency.

 

 

Other considerations can be the presence of trees and vegetation outside a window, which may block light from entering a room, or the presence of neighboring buildings, such as windows facing a shady courtyard. If you have a green lawn outside, you may also notice a greenish light that reflects into your room, which will have a different effect from the warm light reflected from a sandy desert landscape or the gray-blue reflected from a seascape. A good rule of thumb to follow is to really look at your room at all parts of the day and before making a big decision on changing it.

 

While indoor lighting can also be used to vary the effects of color in a room, your best bet is to build your room around the natural light from the get-go. Not only will you have a space that looks good by default (if walls could speak: “Woke up like this!”), but you’ll save on your energy bill by not having to use indoor light during the day. However, indoor lighting is still important to consider--light bulbs have different light colors, and the difference between a warmer incandescent bulb and a day white led light can make a huge difference when it comes to the feel of the room. Be sure to pick your accent lighting, task lighting, and ceiling fixture lighting carefully so that it matches the general feel of your room. While a home office or the overhead light above the kitchen island may be a better fit for bright lights, the chandelier in the dining room and the table lamp next to the sofa will be better off with a dimmer function and a warmer tone to make dinner feel just a little comfier. 

 

No matter what space you live in, you are still subject to the laws of Mother Nature. Why not embrace the celestial patterns of the sun and work with them instead of fighting them?