If you’re reading this indoors, take a look at the walls around you. Do you notice that some areas appear to be a slightly different color from the others, depending on which way they’re facing and how far they are from any source of light? Weird, right? And if you want to see something even weirder, check back again either in the morning or evening. I bet they’ll look more different than before!
Color is actually light that is made visible, and light, as you may know by now, shines at many different levels.
Color never does its own thing – it always relies on a light source. That’s why your walls look so different at different times of day. Both the atmosphere of the air and the quality and quantity of light in the room controls how we perceive color. So when you’re choosing a paint color for your room, it’s critical to take the surrounding light in all its forms into account.
Sunlight is the purest light out there, allowing for the most balanced viewing experience of colors. But even so, the intensity of sunlight changes as the day goes on, and when it’s nighttime you’ll be faced with artificial lighting anyway. So how do you choose a color that you love the best? By putting it to the test.
How Sunlight Affects Paint Color:
If your kitchen faces east, it gets a nice blast of strong sunlight early in the day. However, it will look totally different at dusk. Conversely, your westward-facing living room may look shadowy and sleepy in the morning, but will glow warmly in the evening.
Sunlight is lower on the horizon in the morning, so it is warmer in color. It creates a rather yellow-looking space. As the morning dries up into noon, the yellow gradually makes its way to a bluer tone.
How Lightbulbs Affect Paint Color:
Before we go any further, allow me to remind you that “Warm Colors” are made with the colors red, orange, yellow, or any combination of the three. Cool colors are made with green, blue, and purple, or any combination of those.
When the sun isn’t up to light your home anymore, it’s time to flip the switch and rely on the color-changing qualities of whichever lightbulbs you’ve got in your home.
Incandescent bulbs produce a yellow light that strengthens warm colors and weakens cool colors.
Halogen bulbs are brighter and whiter, rather similar to sunlight! These bulbs allow you to view color in their truer form.
Fluorescent bulbs are the opposite of Incandescent bulbs. They produce cool blue light that intensifies cool colors and dulls warmer colors. “Soft white” fluorescent bulbs act similar in terms of warmth to incandescent bulbs, but tend to make every color look washed out. “Full-spectrum” fluorescent bulbs are pricey, but great if you want to quite accurately mimic natural sunlight!
A good rule of thumb: incandescent and halogen bulbs usually make reds and yellows feel warmer. But if you want bluer walls in a room with these sorts of bulbs, not to worry! Just choose a blue hue with red tones!
How does this apply to shades?
Our light filtering shades do a good job at softening the sunlight, but believe it or not, the color of the fabric you choose can play a role in how light is dispersed and how it affects the coloration of your room, as well! If you choose shades that are a warm hue, the sunlight will create more of a glow on the other colors of the room. Darker colored shades, like Espresso or Flute, will mute surrounding colors, whereas our lighter fabrics like Alto and Manuscript will allow surrounding colors to be shown in a brighter light!
Things to Consider When Choosing Paint:
Lighter colored paints are more reflective than darker ones, so if you’re painting a room that doesn’t get much natural light, or a little nook within a larger room, go for a lighter tint of the original color to create a nice balanced light flow.
Similarly, paints with a higher gloss level will reflect more light than a more matte color. Glossier paints usually brighten and amplify the color.
Try and find a color that best balances the gloss level, the lighting involved, and the other colors of the room. It’s really important to take the color swatches home with you and test them out during night and day, with and without indoor lights.
And here is a fun fact: cooler colors in the gray, gray-green, gray-blue, lavender, and taupe family are particularly affected by lighting conditions! So if you go for paint in those colors, you’re bound to have a room that really appears to change colors! Who says watching paint dry isn’t fun?!