How Different Light Affects Your Interior Colors

Sep 12,20 Tom Piplack
How Different Light Affects Your Interior Colors

When you are building or remodeling your home, the color palette is one of the most important things to consider. You may have heard about how different colors affect your mood, and have carefully selected interior paint colors, tiles, and accessories to match your spirit and create a color scheme you love. However, before you start your project, consider that colors look different throughout the day!

To illustrate, let us begin with what “seeing” actually is. We do not see an actual object, but merely the light reflected off it. This means that, depending on its source, direction and intensity, various types of light will make your walls, floors and objects look quite different. Sounds confusing? Worry not. Here, we will go over artificial light and its qualities, as well as natural light and the direction it comes from!


Commonly used interior lights generally emit yellow, white, or blue light. Yellow hues generally make your colors appear warmer, and complement such paint colors such as red, orange, and yellow. White light can, depending on the bulb, be soft and warm, neutral, or even blueish cool, whereas cool blue light enriches blues, greens, and grays. These are the most commonly used household lights and their specific effects:

Incandescents: These “standard” bulbs can provide a yellowish-warm hue or soft, natural white light. Neutral white incandescents are a good way to replicate natural daylight!

LED (light-emitting diodes): There is a huge variety of LED lights out there, including smart ones that let you configure the light they emit! 

Edison-style bulbs: These vintage bulbs emit a yellow, almost amber light that complements warm paint colors while subduing shades like green and blue.

Halogens: Neutral white light that intensifies all colors. However, halogen lamps burn extremely hot and are therefore rather inefficient and can even pose a fire risk!

Fluorescents: Cool, blue light that pairs well with tones of green and blue. Common choice for rooms with a primarily practical purpose like kitchens and laundry rooms.


Sunlight is the light that our entire perception of color is based upon, so it is the purest light there is. That being said, sunlight and its effects vary depending on the direction it is coming from, and even what time of day it is! This is how sunlight affects your interior colors depending on direction:

North-facing rooms: Northern light is cool and brings out blue. You can either embrace that and go for a bold and dark color scheme, which will be emphasized by the light, or try to maximize the warmth of the room by using lighter tones of yellow and hang mirrors. If you do go for light colors, avoid those based on gray or green!

East-facing rooms: Warm and yellow before noon, before cooling down significantly during the day. The colors you choose depend on your primary use of the room: Warm tones like orange, red and yellow are great to wake up in a sun-flooded sanctuary, light blues or greens are awesome to create a soft and calming effect during the cooler evening light. 

South-facing rooms: These rooms can be flooded with intense light from dusk til dawn. Darker colors will brighten, lighter colors will glow. Soft and pale tones are an amazing opportunity to maximize space.

West facing rooms: Starts off the day with scant light and shadows, and progressively gets warmer until being flooded with beautiful light in the evening. Similarly to east-facing rooms, you can go for warm colors to make the most out of that late-afternoon golden hour, or settle for a light, slightly cooler scheme that will be neutralized later during the day.


There are other influences playing a role in your lighting endeavors, and how they affect your color palette:

Type: Lighting fixtures like sconces or parabolic lights, as well as chandeliers, are an awesome way to evenly distribute light in the room, whereas table- or floor lamps can be used to accentuate certain objects or colors, and to supplement inadequate natural light by adding just a touch of extra illumination. Additionally, you can alter the effect by using shades; Warm shades will glow up the room, whereas strong colors will mute those around them.

Paint: The attributes of the paint determine how much light is reflected, and thus affect the resulting brightness. Generally speaking, the lighter and glossier a paint is, the higher is its reflectance value, and the brighter its effect.

Don’t hesitate to call your experts at Zieba Builders with any questions you may have about paint, light and anything else remodeling! We are here for you at (562) 439-5294.


Zieba Builders has the experience, expertise, and passion to make your next home project a success. Ready to get started on your design & build project? Give us a call or email us today!