The Impact Of Light On Paint Color: How To Choose The Right Shade. Natural light is universally appreciated for its positive effects on wellness, productivity, and perception of surroundings.
However, not all light is equal. How we perceive natural light depends on factors such as orientation and time. For example, the sun exposure experienced by someone living in the Northern hemisphere will be different from that of someone living in the Southern hemisphere.
This discussion will focus on sun exposure in the Northern hemisphere. In Mediterranean homes, it is essential to have shutters and window treatments. Additionally, many homeowners install awnings and canopies to reduce the effects of intense light further.
Over time, drapery on windows exposed to low light can become thin and eventually tear. Discoloration and color fading are common issues affecting hardwood flooring, cabinetry, area rugs, and furniture exposed to direct sunlight and external facades.
Knowing your location on the globe is the first step, but also understanding the compass orientation of a home.
In the past, dark hues performed poorly under intense light, which tends to amplify any imperfections. Each exposure has its personality and distinctive traits, which will be explained further.
Rooms facing north are the darkest, with soft, uniform light throughout the day that is neutral in color for most of the year, avoiding harsh or dull lighting.
Glare and harsh shadows are minimal in these rooms, and colors appear more relaxed on the color spectrum. A room with a northern view can handle dark, saturated colors and warm, organic hues equally well.
Rooms facing south receive the most sunlight and are brightest from late morning to mid-afternoon. They also tend to be the warmest due to increased sun exposure. The light in these rooms is uniform and solid, but the shadows are sharply defined.
Glare can be a problem near the equator, and awnings may be a good solution. The light in south-facing rooms can also make colors appear more vibrant.
Designers have differing opinions on the best color palette for south-facing views. In my experience, it’s best to avoid dark and highly saturated colors as they can be overwhelming.
Instead, I recommend using pops of bright colors in combination with a softer palette for a balanced look. Earthy, warm tones also work well in south-facing spaces or facades.
East-facing rooms receive the most sunlight in the morning. The light has a low altitude and gradually varies in intensity, creating long, soft shadows.
This light works well with saturated color palettes, and I suggest adding an accent wall or feature. However, these rooms can get dark quickly, so a warm color palette can enhance the space.
Rooms facing the western side are filled with rich, golden-orange hues from the early evening and late afternoon sun. Like east-facing rooms, the light gradually varies, creating long, hard shadows.
It can be pretty intense. Cool tones work well during sunset to restore balance in west-facing rooms. If the room is also used in the morning, warmer tones could be used.
Choosing a paint color is not the end of the process. The intensity and tone of a color can change depending on the lighting in a room. The light source, quality, and direction affect a paint color’s appearance.
To ensure the right atmosphere, it is essential to study paint selections under the unique lighting conditions of the room. Natural light is the best option for evaluating the balance of warm and cool tones in colors.
It’s also important to consider the direction of the light, as northern light can highlight cooler tones, while southern exposure tends to bring out warmer hues.
Different times of day can also affect the colors in a space. For example, morning daylight can make cool colors appear warmer, while intense midday light can make colors appear lighter.
Indoor lighting fixtures, such as lamps, sconces, ceiling fixtures, and recessed lighting, also have the power to change the intensity of a color. The institution’s direction or shade can make a color appear brighter or more muted.
For example, a sconce can create shadows on the wall, making a color appear warmer and darker, while recessed lighting can brighten the tones and create a more vivid finish.