Choosing the right paint color is like waving a magic wand over all the dark rooms in your home. It turns them into vibrant spaces where your family and guests will feel at home for years to come.
Out of the many factors that should influence your decision, lightning is the one you can’t ignore.
If you’ve ever fallen in love with a color at the store, painted, then immediately regretted it, you know what I mean.
Good news is, if you know the answer to these simple questions, you can choose the right paint color every single time.
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HOW MUCH LIGHTING DOES YOUR ROOM GET?
Each paint color reflects a percentage of light. This number is usually found at the back of the paint chip card or online.
A higher number on the light reflective scale means light will bounce off and make your color appear brighter.
Knowing the amount of light your room gets ensures the color you pick will look the way you envision it.
DARK ROOMS WITH LITTLE NATURAL LIGHT
North facing rooms in your house get the least amount of light during the day. That means there are no harsh shadows and glare effects are minimal. Paint colors will tend to appear on the cooler end of the spectrum.
To offset the blueish cold tones given by a low light situation or a dark room, a hint of warm undertone, medium neutral paint color is best. Think of yellow, beige or off white. It will reflect light and make your room look bigger.
Don’t be afraid to go for bold paint colors with warm undertones for dark rooms as long as their light reflective value is over 60.
ROOMS WITH LOTS OF LIGHT
If your room is flooded with light, it’s naturally going to have warm tones. To balance out some of the heat, cooler paint hues will work well.
Light greys with blue undertones are a personal favorite as they tone down excess warmth (hello Texas heat!) without being too cold.
If you prefer to bask in all the sunshine, bright colors work too but be aware that direct sunlight at its peak may make some colors look washed out.
Overall, a well-lit room gives the opportunity to play around depending on your intended style.
WHAT TYPE OF LIGHTING DOES YOUR HOME HAVE?
Knowing how much light your room gets is only one part of the equation when it comes to choosing the right paint color. The type of light also influences how a color will appear.
Here’s what you need to know:
An integral part of the light your home gets is obviously natural light. However, it appears differently depending on time of day and how directly your room is in the sun’s path.
As a rule, the most northern facing rooms in the house will have a more constant softer light. The closer your room is to the south, the harsher the light.
Each light bulb type has a different impact on how your chosen paint color will appear.
Artificial lighting comes in a variety of what is called color temperature. Simply put, it’s how warm or cool the light emitted from your bulb or fixture is.
Measured in Kelvin (K) units ranging from 1,000 to 10,000, it gives us a comparison to sunlight. For example, midday natural light is about 6,000 K while sunset is around 3,000.
Typically, the ideal color temperature for a home is 4,000 K.
Soft white incandescent or LED light bulbs provide a warm light, resembling natural light more closely than other types. They will bring out the brightness of lighter colors like reds, oranges, and yellows. On the flip side, cooler paints such as blues, grays, and greens will appear duller.
Fluorescent lights are your best friend when it comes to paints with cooler undertones. I find that they are a great fit for the kitchen or the home office.
LED light bulbs are my personal go-to. Energy efficient options are a must in my home (read more on how I made my home more energy efficient).
SWATCHING PAINT COLORS
Once you’ve picked a few options, it’s time to put them to the test.
When choosing the right paint color, swatching is an essential step.
Here’s how I do it:
1. Paint two coats of your chosen samples on white poster paper in small or large sections, leaving about 2-3” of a white border around the paint.
2. After allowing the paint to dry, cut out your paint sections and place them on the wall to determine the undertones.
Make sure you look at your paint swatches at different times of the day for a full effect.
FIND THE RIGHT COLOR FOR YOUR ROOM
Think you’re ready to paint?
Here are a few last things to consider:
1. Paint finish: A high gloss paint will enhance bright colors to create an enriched look to your room. On the other hand, a flat or matte finish is less reflective which means what you see is what you get.
2. Rugs, carpets, and decorative accents can be reflected on light colored walls. By example, a bright blue rug will cast a bluish tone on a white room.
Let me know which color you end up going for in the comments below. Still unsure? Feel free to get in touch with me or read more of my tips on choosing paint colors.
I’d love to help you make your final decision!
What do you think?