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Comment: the September issue of what to do with a north-facing room

PUBLISHED: 09:32 21 September 2016

The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer is at Kenwood House

The Guitar Player by Johannes Vermeer is at Kenwood House

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As the nights draw in, people start wondering how to brighten up their north-facing homes once again. But is it harder to sell a north-facing house and should you buy one?

We have a story on our website that has proved an unlikely hit. In spite of my supposed professional digital nouse, I would never have predicted that the bog-standard story would be our consistent big hitter. Nonetheless “How to brighten up a north-facing room”, and the follow up hit “How to pick the perfect paint colour for the light in your room”, appear in our top 10 most read stories every single month without fail.

Intriguingly, at the stroke of September as the sun began to set noticeably earlier each evening, the numbers started to rise even higher, although such is the light starved nature of the north-face that we get quite a bit of action even in mid-summer.

People are turning to Google in their droves to get answers to the burning question of how to banish the cold, dank shadows in their otherwise beautiful homes.

Because here’s the rub: for every prized south-facing garden boasted of in an estate agent’s sales literature, there’s generally at least one north-facing room on the other side. Farrow & Ball go so far as to recommend that north facers don’t even try to fight the light – and what north Londoner worth their Down Pipe would ignore their advice?

So what does that mean for property owners and home buyers? Should you only buy on the east-west to avoid the problem all together? After all, if you’re in a dual aspect property on this axis you’ll get both full morning and evening sun, whereas on a north-south axis one side of your house will get light all day while the other will be perpetually shrouded in darkness.

Much like Farrow & Ball’s decorating advice, Peter Young of John D Wood estate agent advises in an article in The Independent that if you’re selling a north-facing home you should market it in the winter. As he says, if it’s dingy even on a sunny day, buyers will know it’s a dead duck.

One other option is to hope for an artist buyer to come along. Historically artists’ studios are always north-facing because the indirect light changes little throughout the day and provides controlled value shifts between highlights and shade.

With north London’s house prices you may have to hope for an oligarch Sunday painter.

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