Consider Your Lighting - Tips for Home Interiors - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

Consider Your Lighting - Tips for Home Interiors

Customers are always asking us why the color on the wall doesn’t look exactly like it did when they were in the store. DIY Blogger Lindsay Ballard of Makely School for Girls tells Glidden® how lighting can impact color and why it’s worth considering before you buy.

When you decide that it’s time to choose a new paint color for your room, you have more to think about than just deciding on blue versus green. Instead of choosing a hue based on what looks good at the paint store, you will need to think about how much and what type of lighting you plan to have in your room. Now I know, your eyes just glazed over because this sounds like it’s going to be pretty boring—how big of a deal could lighting possibly be?  You just wanted to paint your walls! Well I promise you it’s worth the time to consider, and I’m here to make this as easy and painless as possible.


The first thing I always consider is how much natural light I have in a room.

For example, two walls in my master bedroom are painted a dark shade of gray. My husband was concerned that the color would be too dark, but I convinced him that the six large windows in the room that face the bright afternoon sun would bring in enough light. And guess what? He’s very happy with the color, now that it’s on the walls. The sunlight brightens the room enough so we don’t feel like we are living in a cave. In fact, the room is so bright that any lighter shade of gray would not have given me the dramatic impact I had envisioned for those walls.

The wattage of the bulbs in your room is also something to consider.

If you have a few lamps that take 40-watt bulbs, you will obviously have a darker room than if your lamps take 150-watt bulbs. Just as natural sunlight brightens a room to make it better for dark or vibrant colors, higher wattage bulbs have a similar effect. If you are going for a warm and soothing feel for your room, softer lighting on softer colors are probably more what you are looking for.

Speaking of light bulbs, consider that they come in a wide spectrum of colors.

Lightbulbs range from cool, blue tones to warm, orange tones. Your personal preference of light within that spectrum will greatly affect the color of your walls. For example, I lit the below photo of a wall in my powder bathroom with two different bulbs. The left side is lit with a 60-watt clear bulb. The right side is lit with a 60-watt blue-toned bulb. You will see that there is a big difference in the way the wall color comes across to the eye based on the color of the bulb.  I personally prefer a warm-toned bulb, so the left side of the image is closer to what the room actually looks like in my home.


You will also need to take into account the position of your lighting fixtures within the room.

Do you have a lot of overhead lighting from a chandelier or other ceiling fixture? Do you have a lot of soft, eye-level light cast by lamps? Are there dark corners in your room where no light reaches? The placement of lighting sources in your room will impact the way the color looks on different parts of the wall.

The last lighting consideration when choosing a paint color is your ceiling color.

A white ceiling is going to reflect the light, enhancing your artificial and natural light and making the room appear brighter. If you want to paint the ceiling the same color as your walls and you’re using a dark paint color, you will not get that same brightening effect.

That’s a lot of information, so how do you even begin to figure out the answer?

Painting pros have long suggested viewing a paint chip in the room you will be painting so that you can see how the light affects that color. However, an even better option than a single chip are custom mixed sample jars of paint. Gone are the days of having to choose a color based on a tiny square of color!

What do I suggest?  Grab a few sample jars, turn on your lamps, open your curtains and paint some stripes on your walls to test the colors under your specific lighting conditions. Don’t be afraid to test 3 or 4 colors in a couple different spots—your freshly painted room will thank you for doing your lighting homework.

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