Shopping at the paint store is a touch more difficult than weighting the pros and cons of the shades in your favorite color. Colors typically appear a little different once they’re up on your walls, because they have a tendency to interact with your house.
Most people will think about whether the paint colors will go with their furniture, floors, and other décor. But have you considered how color will interplay with your home’s unique lighting?
Whether you have a lot of natural light streaming in throughout the day or a mix of incandescent, fluorescent, and LED light fixtures lighting your home day and night, each light source will have an impact on your wall color.
Color intensifies in a dark room and gets lighter in a room with natural light streaming in. The “color rendering” of a light bulb or light source also determines how your paint color will appear. Color rendering is scored on a 1 to 100 scale. It’s a measure of a light bulb’s ability to render colors correctly. The lower end of the scale renders hues badly – think of low pressure sodium lighting, which is found in some very yellow street lamps. When it’s on, the colors you see appear very different in broad daylight. Sunlight has a score of 100.
If you love the paint color you select, you want your lighting fixtures to have a relatively high color rendering index, or CRI. As a rule of thumb, look for light sources with a CRI of 85 or higher.
The best way to ensure the paint color suits your house is to paint a small sample on a few walls! Observe how it interacts with your lighting during different times of the day.
Once you paint the walls, you may find you need to make a few lighting changes, too. Darker paint shades are inclined to visually suck up the lighting. If you want to paint your kitchen a rich, dark hue, that’s great! However, if afterward your room is a little dull, you might want to install brighter light bulbs in your recessed lights and add under cabinet lights if you don’t already have them.
So long as you keep the relationship between color and lighting in mind, you’ll find a paint color that you love, day and night.
For even more valuable tips on choosing paint colors, check out this HGTV article.