This past weekend I visited my friend's home and she commented that she really wanted to paint her living room but because it was North facing, she was worried about anything other than white appearing too dark. It occurred to me that many people may have this same concern and I decided to dig into this issue a bit.
The issue with the North room is that it is often the most difficult to decorate because the light is cool and brings out the chilliness in any paint color. The trick is to amplify the warmth in the room, create tints that mimic the tones of a Southern facing room. A popular option is to not fight nature in a dark room and instead work with it using strong dark colors like purples, chocolates, ochres and reds. Choosing saturated colors (those high in pigment color) versus muddy tones will help the room stand up to the dimming qualities of northern light and disperse the coolness. A strong grey like Farrow & Ball's Downy Pipe is a good example of a dramatic and beautiful space.
If the Northern facing room has fairly large windows it's easier to succeed with some lighter colors on the wall. The trick is to avoid soft grays and greens, sticking to colors that will bounce around light like yellows, creamy neutrals and even pinks. Adding accents of warm colors like golds, oranges and reds decreases the overall grey and emulates a southern lit environment. The addition of mirrors and patterned textiles are also elements that bounce the light and add detail and texture.
For more advice on color selections or good color palettes for the north facing room, check out these posts: