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March 3, 2008

Light has effect on colour

  • Professional interior designers and colour consultants consider the direction a room faces. Whether it is north, south, east or west, makes a great deal of difference to the choice of colour scheme.
  • For instance, a bedroom that faces east and receives strong morning light will look very different when next seen late at night in artificial lighting. A west facing room that has a warm glow in the evening can look dull in the mornings. The choice of colour is thus important in all respects.
  • Of course, the ideal aspect is not always possible for everyone. City flats may enjoy little naturally available light and be overlooked on all sides.
  • A north facing room can expect less sun than south or west facing one, but whatever aspect, with clever lighting and colour scheming the interior can be made to feel welcoming and attractive.
  • The style of house we live in can also make a great difference to the amount of available light in an interior. A house located in a suburban area with greenery all around may be in a superbly location but have a low ceilings and tiny windows which can make the interior feel dark and gloomy.
  • Modern homes with spacious open plan interiors and large picture windows will be even more affected by their aspect and seasonal changes. If there is a living room with a patio attached which is used as an additional seating area during sometime of the year and not suitable for some other time, the d├ęcor will have to be flexible enough to accommodate the changes.
  • For people in doubt over lighting and colour schemes some interior designers suggest to paint a room white before making a final colour choice. This is a good way to observe how changes in natural light affect an interior and helps to make the most of it while choosing a colour scheme.

Diffused even light:
A room in typically diffused northern daylight: shadows are not too strong and the mainly pale neutral colour scheme with colourful accents makes the most of existing light conditions. However at night under artificial light, colours may alter drastically.

Adding light:
A white gloss painted ceiling is a wonderful light reflector and in a dark room can act like a mirror and significantly increase the amount of available light. However, gloss painted surfaces must be perfectly free from paint drips and unsightly cracks and bumps as a high sheen also emphasizes less-than-perfect surfaces!

Matching furnishings
The most usual way to colour match is to look at samples in the daylight. However this does not enable us to judge to judge the effect at home under artificial lighting conditions. Viewing samples under shop lights is also unsatisfactory as they mostly use colour-corrected fluorescent tubes resembling daylight. Neither type of light will give an idea of the average home’s tungsten lighting with its distinctive yellow cast. Carpets and textured fabrics are particularly vulnerable to change from artificial lighting. Synthetic fabrics that match perfectly in daylight may no longer do so under artificial lighting.

The effect of artificial lighting on curtains is better seen if a sample meter is pleated and held upright, looking at lampshade fabrics from behind also gives a better idea.

Window walls will appear darker as they only receive reflected light, ceilings always look darker than walls painted the same colour. It is always better to use a shade lighter than the first choice as when the walls are painted they tend to appear darker than the paint sample on the card.

It is better to put some samples on the floor and move them around the room to see how different positions and lighting conditions can affect the colour.

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