Ask Maxwell: What’s the Perfect Wall Color for a Low-Light Bedroom?

published May 16, 2022
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Credit: Maxwell Ryan
My bedroom in my old apartment: There were no windows into this bedroom so it was dark, and I painted the wall behind the bed not quite a lavender, but a deep lilac-ish Farrow & Ball color (I can't find it in their current lineup) which was so beautiful to sleep in. This was a lovely, relaxing bedroom and not having much light was totally fine!

How do I choose a wall color for a kids’ bedroom that gets very little daylight?


Dear Jelisa,

I hope my answer is helpful, because I’m not going to say that I’d recommend painting a bright or reflective color that will make it seem brighter! The main thing that we do in our bedrooms is sleep, and for that it is best to have a color that is less stimulating and more soothing, which immediately leads us to cooler colors which live on the blue side of the spectrum away from the yellow side (for social rooms – kitchen, dining room, living room, etc – I recommend warmer colors). Here’s my primer on best uses for warm and cool colors if you’d like to dive deeper.

However, because it’s a darker room, let’s not go dark or saturated; let’s keep it on the light side, with more white in it so that it doesn’t absorb and eat up all the light that is living in the room. My first choice? A light lavender or lilac which can could be quite colorful or simply off-white is a favorite for bedrooms, children’s as well. It’s gender neutral, sort of a warm version of a cool, calming color and it ain’t obvious. Here’s a version from Sherwin Williams and one from Benjamin Moore.

Finally, because you say it’s a dark room, be sure to put enough electric light into it that this doesn’t bring you down when you are in the room. Three points of light are important for ANY room, kids rooms as well, and a bedside lamp, a floor lamp and some string lights over the bed or on the wall will make it fun and bright against your lovely new paint job.

In the end, a low light bedroom is NOT a bad thing because of how much your child will sleep in it, it would be far words to have a low light living room or kitchen!

Best, M

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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