Consider Lighting When Choosing Paint

Have you ever seen a paint chip or colour that you absolutely loved in a store but found it looked completely different when you took it home? It’s always best to view colour swatches in the actual lighting conditions in which they will be used most.

Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight provides the truest rendition of colour. Considered the ideal light source, natural sunlight maintains a neutral balance between both the warm (yellow cast) and cool (blue cast) ends of the light spectrum. Northern light is the coolest, while light from a southern exposure is the strongest. Direct sunlight provides the “truest” rendition of colours in a room.”

Indirect Sunlight

The intense golden rays and distinct shadows of a sunny, late afternoon have a profound effect on colour. Natural sunlight is not consistent. It changes from sunrise to noon, to late afternoon and dusk. The intense golden rays and distinct shadows of a sunny, late afternoon can have a profound effect on the colours in a room.

Artificial Light

Under the cool cast of fluorescent lights, blues and greens are enhanced, while reds and yellows are muted. Colour rendition appears warm under incandescent and halogen lights. Reds and yellows are enhanced and blues and greens are culled. Colours change under different lighting conditions—an important factor to consider when choosing paint colours.

In rooms exposed to natural sunlight, the appearance of colours will vary depending upon the sun’s position and the direction of the light.

That’s why, when choosing paint colours for a room, it’s always wise to look at colour swatches in the actual space and under different lighting conditions.

For the best test, buy a paint colour sample (available from Tri-City Paint & Design) and paint a small area on the desired surface. Observe how the colour looks at different times of the day, in natural and artificial light. Only then will you get a true sense of what your room will look like throughout the day.

Here are some suggestions from designer and Dabble Magazine Editor in Chief Kimberley Seldon to help you choose the best paint colours for rooms that are exposed to sunlight from the north, south, east, and west. (Note: artificial light will further affect the appearance of colours.)

Please NEVER make colour decisions without the actual chip in your hands at home. Colours vary from screen to screen and room to room. On-screen colour representations may differ slightly from actual paint colours due to monitor calibration.

Northern Exposure

Light from the north is indirect and cool, and can appear grey depending upon where you live. To counterbalance this effect and amplify the sunlight, choose a yellow, cream and warm, pale pinks and corals such as the colours shown.

Southern Exposure

Warm southerly light lasts the longest and can become intense at mid-day. A mid-tone colour such as Lavender Lipstick (2072-50) will look fresh in the daytime and become richer at night. Rich blues and greens lose intensity but can appear to glow. Browns appear less somber in southern light. Go for a warm, earthy hue like Rich Clay Brown (2164-30).

Eastern Exposure

Eastern exposure provides bright, yellow light that’s ideal for high-activity rooms like kitchens, playrooms, and family rooms. Pale colours look fabulous. Warm pinks, corals, yellows, or whites like will enhance the light, while cool blues and greens will temper it.

Western Exposure

Green and cream work well in the muted, late afternoon sunlight of a western exposure. Try pairing green with a mellow yellow or cream. Complementary colours, such as green and red, are not quite as garish in western exposure lighting. Reds appear richer and less flat because they absorb light. A red like Warm Comfort is a good choice for rooms that require drama and intimacy, such as dining rooms.

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