HOW LIGHT IMPACTS PAINT COLOR, AND WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU 

-Charles Graves Painting

The impact of lighting on a home cannot be overstated, because lighting affects how the colors themselves look. Sunlight has a different look depending on whether it's coming from the north, south, east or west. Lightbulbs impact your color differently if they are incandescent versus if they are CFL or halogen. Sunny day sunlight impacts your walls differently than cloudy day sunlight. Furthermore, the size of the room and how well-lit the room is, dictate how dark or light the colors may feel.

To start, let's begin by showing a diagram with the interior light spectrum. 

As you can see from the diagram above, the temperature of the light in question, results in different colored light. We see the same effect when viewing stars in the night sky. Red supergiant, yet cooler, stars burn red; medium heat stars burn yellow; small and hot stars burn white; and blue supergiants (the hottest of them all) burn a cool blue. 

Ironically, the hotter the actual light, the cooler it "appears", as we typically associate blue with cold and yellow/red/orange with warmth. It is the opposite with lighting. 

Incandescent bulbs tend to burn yellow, LED and Halogen tend to burn white or pale bluish white, and fluorescent tends to burn a much more noticeable bluish white. See below for how these lightbulbs look, corresponding with their associated temperature in Kelvin. The more lighting that is in a room, the lighter and brighter the room's colors will look- and also, the more the color of the lightbulb's light will impact the wall's paint colors. 

SOFT WHITE/WARM WHITE:

Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them

BRIGHT WHITE/COOL WHITE:

Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel

PURE WHITE: 
Great for modern homes with a clean, crisp feel throughout. 

DAYLIGHT:

Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup – provides the greatest contrast among colors.

If this is too much information to take in, have no fear- our Northern VA painting company has a professional designer on staff who can create a beautiful color scheme for your home for you. If you are intrigued, read on!

 

Now that we've established how lightbulb color can vary based on temp, we need to also acknowledge the part that sunlight direction and amount plays in impacting your home's paint colors. As the amount and angle of the sun changes, so will your room colors.

North-facing rooms: Light in these rooms is cool and bluish. Bolder colors show up better than muted colors; lighter colors will look subdued. Because of this, in these rooms it is recommended to use strong colors and embrace what nature has given

South-facing rooms: Lots of high-in-the-sky light brings out the best in cool and warm colors. Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will virtually glow. See below, where a south-facing room is brightened by the bright sunlight and amplified by the yellow color selected.

East-facing rooms: East light is warm and yellowy before noon, then turns bluer later in the day. These are great rooms for reds, oranges and yellows. 

West-facing rooms: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, while scant morning light can produce shadows and make colors look dull.

A big factor in deciding paint colors is how much light your room has, the color/type, and how big your room is. Bigger rooms tend to create a more open feel, and make the paint colors seem lighter. Brighter rooms also make the colors feel lighter, and they add energy and clarity to a room. When you have a large, brightly lit room, for example, you can choose darker colors than you would in a smaller, more dimly lit room. Moderately dark colors may give a perfect contrast in a well lit, larger room, such as a 2 story foyer or a great room's coffered ceiling lit by both recessed lighting and 2 story gaping windows... whereas dark colors in a small, dimly lit bedroom or basement will be foreboding and uninviting. One should take into account the size and amount of light, and also, the type (or types) of lighting, as they should adjust their color for the impact the bluish or orange-ish hue will have on the color, in order to achieve the desired effect. 

Lastly, you should also consider other surfaces when deciding the lightness or darkness of a room- darker floors, darker countertops, etc reflect less light, and therefore will make a room seem darker and, by extension, usually lend to lighter paint hues being recommended. Whereas nicely finished medium color wood floors, tile, or clean lighter carpet tends to lend more light to a room, along with white marble countertops or white kitchen cabinets.

Our professional designer can help you decide your colors, if you are stumped! For all of our customers doing 10 or more rooms (or a full home/condo), we offer a professional design consult included in our cost. Our designer will come out to your home for a 90 minute consult and help you select colors based on lighting size, your furniture, your floors, pictures in the room, and of course your tastes in terms of color scheme (do you want a modern gray theme, a cool blue theme, a minimalist white theme, what accent colors do you most like, etc). At the end, you will receive a design scheme that is professional and beautiful, magazine-worthy, yet completely you!