How Light Affects Paint Colours

April 25th, 2022

A huge consideration to make when decorating a space is the light available in the room. A paint colour can look wildly different throughout the day and can look like a completely different colour if used in a north facing room compared to a south facing room. Whilst this topic can be technical, we have worked with interior stylist Maxine Brady to show you how to choose the perfect colour for your space when considering lighting.

Be sure to check out more interior styling tips and tricks from Maxine on Instagram or her award winning blog.

How colour changes throughout the day:

You may remember from school that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west which means throughout the day, sunlight will hit different spots creating different effects. Think about where your windows are placed compared to the sun and see where the light will come through. 

Maxine says:

As day light floods into our home, it can have a huge impact on the colours in our rooms. ALWAYS use paint samples before painting your walls. Paint a large piece of paper – at least 60cm wide - with your paint colours, and then move these around the room to see how the light impacts the colours during the day. Live with these samples on your walls for at least a week before you buy paint to avoid costly mistake.

What colours to choose in north facing rooms or rooms with no natural light:

If your room is north facing, you will notice the space has considerably less light pouring in compared to a south facing room. North facing rooms can be treated similarly to rooms with little or no natural light available to them as well. These spaces may also feel colder as well as darker, so depending on what the room is used for will help you decide on the colour you choose. You can embrace the lack of light and choose a colour that will make the room feel cosy or choose a brighter colour which will encourage more light to reflect off the colour. Again, brushing out some colours onto lining paper will really help. If you have settled on a colour, choose several variations to see which shade works best.

Maxine says:

Warmer colours work well like pinks and greens tones. For a bolder look, go for pigment rich paints that will bounce light around the room. Personally, I find pale yellows and grey can look a little sad in north rooms. With whites, you can buy light reflecting paint that will help bounce light around your room. Use this on your ceilings for a fresh look.

Artificial lighting and paint colour:

There are a lot of different lighting options now available to homeowners which can seem very overwhelming. Thinking about the purpose of the room will really help you work out what sort of lighting will be best for the space. Choosing warm or cool coloured bulbs can also have a dramatic effect on your walls so make sure you test how the light interacts with the colour you want to choose.

Maxine says:

In hardworking spaces like bathrooms and kitchens, use spotlights with white LEDs in for a task lighting. In my kitchen, I have a clip-on lamp on my shelving unit to create a cosy atmosphere in the evenings when the cooking & cleaning is done.

In dining rooms, living spaces and bedrooms, mix your lighting options. A good central pendant will be good for early evenings, but then dot around table lamps and standard lamps to create an intimate mood when watching TV or relaxing.

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