Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any room design, and the color of lighting can drastically change the look and feel of a room. Lighting colors can also change how your eyes focus on objects and can also affect your mood. Outdoors, lighting colors can change the look of landscaping and other areas as well.
When you are picking out lighting for an area or room, you should first think about what the mood of the area should be. For example, in a kitchen you may want to have warm lighting if your design is more contemporary or antique. Conversely, if you are creating a modern look, you may want to use a cooler tone of lighting. In your bathroom you may want to use a more daylight color for your master bath where you get ready and want to see true color, and use a warmer light for your guest bathroom.
The photo above shows three different “tones” or colors of lighting. As you can see, the lower numbers represent a “warmer” color on the Kelvin scale and the higher numbers represent a “cooler” color. In many cases, lighting colors can just be a preference, and will have to be done by trial and error to see what it will look like in your area. You should also consider the amount of natural light you have coming in through windows and skylights.
I have noticed that in dressing rooms at department stores, there is almost always warm lighting used and that’s because warmer tones make your skin look more vibrant and healthy, and the better you look in the clothes, the more likely you are to buy them. On the other hand, in carpet stores, fabric stores, and other places where color matching is more crucial, there is usually a cooler lighting because a color closer to natural daylight on the Kelvin scale shows a truer color when you’re looking at it.
Dental offices and eye doctors also prefer to use a higher Kelvin daylight color lighting because they need to see the accurate colors of teeth, and daylight or even full-spectrum lighting is said to be better for your eyes if you have to work under it. Full spectrum lighting is usually around 6500 on the Kelvin scale and daylight is 5000 – 5500.
Many designers now are using vintage-style bulbs in room to give them a cool designer style look. These bulbs come in LED, and are now very reasonably priced. These give off a very warm light and look super old fashioned. I see them used in stores, restaurants, kitchens, and many other applications.
For outdoor lighting the same rules apply. A “whiter” light will give you more of a stark look for your landscape lighting and that may be what you want. On the other hand, warmer lighting does not look as bright even though you may be getting the same lumens or light output.
I have to admit, a nice warm light looks quite beautiful on any house if it’s done well.
Just remember that lighting color is usually a preference, but you can follow some general rules about style such as whether it’s modern or contemporary. Lighting can make a huge difference to your project and should be planned ahead just like any other aspect of your design.