Have you ever purchased a new black shirt only to arrive home and discover that it’s actually navy? Lighting can have a dramatic effect on the way your eyes perceive color.
Getting the lighting right is an essential part of making a room look the way you intend. Ideally, you’ll plan your lighting in conjunction with other upgrades, not as an afterthought.
If you can, choose and install all of your lighting before you select your paint color and furniture. The paint will look different depending on what lights you install and where you place them. Testing swatches before upgrading your lighting won’t give you an accurate idea of how the color will actually look in the finished room.
If your new paint is already up on the walls, but it isn’t looking as spectacular as you’d hoped, don’t worry. We have a few lighting tricks to help you get the most out of your home’s new interior paint job.
How To Light A Room
When you plan the lighting for a room, it’s helpful to think in the following layers:
The lights you turn on when you walk into a room, typically overhead fixtures.
The lights that highlight specific objects or features of a room, often recessed lighting, track lights, or downlight pendants.
The lights you turn on to do detailed tasks like reading or cooking. These can be lamps, recessed lights or under cabinet lights.
Usually, one overhead fixture is not going to be enough to light an entire room. Some shadow is actually desirable in interior design. It can make textured walls look interesting, and it can bring out different tones in your paint. However, unintentional shadows can mute your paint color.
Planning your paint color around the function of a room will make lighting it easier. Kitchens, for example, require different lighting than living areas. If you choose a dark wall color, the bright light you need for cooking may alter the way the color appears. On the other hand, pairing warm, ambient lighting in a living space with a stark white wall can make the paint color appear dingy and yellow.
Natural light can also affect the presentation of your paint color. North-facing windows don’t let in much natural light, so you’ll need to install more artificial lights in those rooms to keep your paint looking fresh and bright.
If your design plan has you replacing and adding quite a few lights, you might need an electrical panel upgrade. Older homes may not be able to handle the increased electrical load of new lights. Consult an electrician so you don’t blow a fuse and plunge your beautifully repainted home into darkness.
Not Sure Which Type of Lighting Is Best For Your Space?
Using Recessed Lighting
Recessed lighting can function as the primary, accent, or even task lighting depending on where you place it. It’s a smart option for nearly any room because it’s directional, unobtrusive, and provides excellent illumination.
To achieve an ambient glow in your living space, place a recessed LED strip light along the edge of a wall. It’ll keep your bold wall color from becoming dark and dull, or keep your light and bright wall colors fresh looking no matter the time of day.
If you have a piece of art that you’d like to highlight, recessed lighting is a great option. To make sure that the light doesn’t alter the wall color in a way that detracts from the art, consult with a professional. He or she can help you determine how close the light should be to the piece, as well as the proper light bulb temperature to make your art look its best.
Picking The Right Color Temperature
The first rule of color temperature is to make sure all of the bulbs in your room match. If each layer of light has a different color temperature, your room will look a bit motley.
Different paint colors will look better under different temperatures. If you’re designing a rich, earthy room filled with reds, golds, and wood, choose warmer lights. Bulbs in the 2400 to 2900 Kelvin range will bring out the richness in your paint and décor.
If you plan to use blues, greens, and whites in your décor, choose cooler lights. Bulbs in the 3000 to 4900 Kelvin range will keep your paint looking bright and clean. Warmer bulbs can darken and mute your paint.
Many rooms mix bold and neutral design elements. If you’re not sure what temperature to use in your space, speak with a professional who can help you make the best choice.
Adding Dimmer Switches For Versatility
If you have the renovation bug but you already love your light fixtures and light bulb temperature, try adding dimmer switches. This easy, affordable upgrade lets you keep your existing setup while giving you the power to alter the atmosphere of a room at will.
Sometimes, it’s hard to create one lighting scheme that works well in a room no matter the time of day or the season. Lighting that’s perfect for a summer evening might not work as well on a cold, winter day. Dimmer switches can give your lighting versatility, which will keep your paint looking great year-round.
The best thing about dimmers is the granularity they provide, so don’t stymie them by putting an entire room on one switch. Hire a licensed electrician who knows how to put each light or layer on its own switch.
If you’ve decided to use cool bulbs in one room and warmer bulbs in another, dimmers can help bring cohesion to the two spaces as the sun goes down. Differences in temperature become more apparent as daylight dwindles and you rely more on your interior lights.
Choose The Right Lighting
A fresh coat of paint can transform a room, but make sure you’re happy with your lighting before you swatch colors on the wall. There’s nothing worse than picking out the perfect paint color, only to find that your light makes it look sickly or dull.
With the right lighting, you can make your new paint color look spectacular and create the perfect atmosphere for your space.