How Colors and Lighting should be aligned with the décor?


The right play of color and lighting in any type of décor can be a subtly powerful thing. It can impact everything from your sleep schedule to your brain power. So it’s understandable that you want your home, the place you presumably spend a big chunk of your life, to be lit nicely and painted in just the right colors.

How to pick the right lighting?

The right lighting can make you feel relaxed or productive, but beyond that, there’s function. Certain types of lighting serve a specific purpose, and when it comes to your home, you want the right type, depending on the purpose of your room. To optimize your home’s lighting, first consider how you’re using each room.

Generally, lighting function falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent.

  • General or Ambient Lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light”. You might use a chandelier, pendant light, track lighting or wall sconces to create ambient light that fills the room.
  • Task Lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options. But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too, but it depends on how you layer the lighting in your room, and how bright your bulbs are.
  • Accent Lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.

Lighting for occasions

When hosting a party, lighting is of the utmost importance for creating the right ambience. By experimenting with different types of lighting, the mood of a room can change from calm and romantic to energizing and vibrant. Create a bright, warm glow with a combination of subtle light sources with an emphasis on accent lighting. Reflective surfaces such as mirrors can be used to bounce candlelight around the room and crystals, diamonds, mirror balls and reflective baubles are ideal for adding that extra festive sparkle.

Highlight certain areas of the room, such as the fireplace with fairy lights. Drape lights around dried-flowers or willow stems, or place on the mantelpiece to create a shimmering glow. Depending on the occasion, use different-colored lights and bulbs and adjust the flicker speed on fairy lights for a party feel.

Make a large room with high ceilings appear cozier, by adding several types of small lamps, singularly or in clusters to create low pools of light. Also, consider shadows when arranging your lights and add pierced-lanterns or light shades to create unusual patterns on the walls and ceilings.

Add character to your garden with fairy lights, tea lights, spotlights or fiber-optics, in creative displays. Even if you do not venture outside, the lighting can still be used to add to the ambience of an indoor party.

How to pick the right colors for your interiors?

Colors aren’t randomly used when we talk about interiors.  At first sight we may think that it’s very easy to choose colors for a living room, for example, or for our entire home because we choose what we love and what we would like to have. In many cases the results are very good, but in most of the cases if you don’t know anything about colors and what combinations would look great for your home style, the results might have nothing in common with a professional appearance.

A theme, such as traditional, oriental, or modern has its own extensive color palette. If your furniture belongs to any one of the prominent style categories, consider painting the walls with similar tones and shades of hues. This enhances the overall look and grants a symmetrical dimension to your home. Further, different people perceive colors differently. For instance, some may like the red of your oriental rug to be jovial, but someone else may find it too dark and imposing. Color psychology comes into play at such times. Assess what kind of vibe you want to create in a particular room and work towards getting colors of appropriate nature.

Additionally, one must understand that the color of an object won’t look the same 24 hours a day. The way we see color depends on two things. Firstly, the light that an object absorbs. Black absorbs all colors; white absorbs none; blue absorbs red. Secondly, how the light source works. Natural light (sunlight) changes throughout the day and is affected by a room’s location. Artificial light changes with the type of bulb you use.

A few ways to affect color through lighting:

  • To warm up a room's color: Look for a bulb with a temperature close to 2,700 Kelvin. Halogens are a good choice, but all types of bulbs are available in warmer ratings.
  • To cool down a room's color: Look for a bulb with a temperature close to 4,000 Kelvin. Standard fluorescents will generally cool down a room, but check the numbers.
  • To most accurately replicate natural daylight: Midday sunlight is around 5,000 to 6,000 Kelvin, but keep in mind that this is very cool light — contrary to what you might expect.

Compare lumens to see how bright a bulb is, and if you want to know how warm or cool the light produced will be, look for the kelvin rating. For the warm light traditionally produced by incandescent bulbs, look for close to 2,700 Kelvin. Most of the old fluorescent tubes you're familiar with are around 4,000 Kelvin. Fluorescents come in many varieties, from warm to cool, from traditional tubes to compact fluorescents (CFLs), all in many interesting shapes. Each will have its own effect on the colors in your house. The light you choose to illuminate tasks or set the mood will change the way you see color throughout the room. It’s all determined by the way light and colors interact. 

How Sunlight Affects Colors

As the amount of sunlight and angle of the sun changes, so will your room colors.

- North-facing rooms: Light in these rooms is cool and bluish. Bolder colors show up better than muted colors; lighter colors will look subdued.

- South-facing rooms: Lots of high-in- the-sky light brings out the best in cool and warm colors. Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will virtually glow.

- East-facing rooms: East light is warm and yellowy before noon, then turns bluer later in the day. These are great rooms for reds, oranges and yellows.

- West-facing rooms: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, while scant morning light can produce shadows and make colors look dull.

Tips for Achieving the Color You Want
  • Paint squares of primed drywall with samples of the colors you are considering, and then move them around the room during the day. Apply at least two coats.
  • Evaluate samples of carpet during different daylight conditions.
  • Most contractors won’t hang lights before you paint, but you can get a color approximation by placing a bulb you’ll be using in a floor or desk lamp. If you are hyper-sensitive to color or want a very specific look, ask your electrician to hang the lights, then cover them carefully during painting.
  • Remember that natural and artificial light will work together during certain times of day, especially in summer when dusk lasts a long time. Turn on artificial lights even during daylight to see what your colors will look like.
  • Paint sheen also affects color. Glossy finishes will reflect light and change the way the color looks, whereas flat finishes are less reflective and allow colors to look truer under bright light.
  • Light-colored walls can reflect the colors of bold carpets: A bright blue rug, for instance, can cast a bluish tone on a white wall.