Understanding how light affects paint

Choosing a paint colour for a space in your home is tough decision. Some homeowners can spend hours agonizing over those tiny paint chips at the hardware store before deciding on the perfect one. How frustrating is it then to spend all that money on paint, not to mention the time spent painting, only to discover the colour looks completely different than you imagined on your walls. The culprit could be lighting.

Avoid decor disappointment by doing a little research into how lighting affects paint colour. You need to consider a variety of factors when selecting your paint, including the direction the room faces and the natural light it receives throughout the day, plus the type of artificial lighting you have in the room.

According to Houselogic.com, a north-facing room will have a cool and bluish light, meaning that bolder colours that will amplify the sunlight will look better than muted shades.

A south-facing room will complement both light and dark colours well, but keep in mind that dark colours will look brighter and light colours will be luminous.

An east-facing room is ideal for reds, yellows and oranges. Colours will be warm and yellowish in the morning and take on a bluer tinge in the afternoon.

Finally, a west-facing room will produce many shadows, making colours look muted in the morning before they take on a beautiful, warm glow in the evening.

Keep in mind that the sheen of the paint you choose will also affect the colour. Glossy paint will reflect light, while a matte finish will allow the true colour to shine through, especially under bright lighting.  Check out Farrow & Ball‘s website to see their article on how light affects certain paint colours.

When it comes to choosing light bulbs, traditional incandescent bulbs give off a yellow light that makes warm colours more intense and cool colours look dull. The new energy-efficient LEDs can be purchased to emit a warm or cool colour. You can even purchase “smart” LED lights with colour that can be controlled wirelessly. Fluorescent lights tend to create a cool, blue light that complements greens and blues well.

If you’re still undecided, purchase a paint colour sample and paint a small section of the room. Check in periodically throughout the day to see how the light in your space is playing up the colour.  Or check out Benjamin Moore to see what colours are suggested for different types of light.

Jennifer Birch – Realtor & Accredited Home Stager

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