How light affects colour schemes

The most important aspect of selecting a colour scheme that most home owners fail to consider is how natural light will affect the colours once they are applied. A room that faces toward the south will look a lot different compared to a north-facing room with the same colour.

You should think about the direction that natural light will be coming from when viewing colour schemes, even though designers have problems predicting the outcome. Using a test pot on a large section of wall is the best way to see the difference natural light will make to the colour. View the test colour in the morning and evening to see the range of effects the light will make.

An east-facing room that gets a lot of sunlight in the morning will look different when seen late at night by artificial lighting. Rooms that face towards the west will have a warm glow in the evening, but will look dull in the mornings. Take this into account when choosing colours and try to create balance between the two.

The effect that natural light plays on the colour can not be ideal for every room. City apartments may not get much natural light at all if they have large buildings casting shadows on all sides. In any room, you can make up for this with clever lighting and a good colour scheme. The effect can be inviting and attractive.

The style of the house will make a big difference to the natural light reaching the interior. Country cottages are often in sunny locations, but have low ceilings and small windows. This will give rooms a dark and gloomy feeling. In such rooms, try light or warm colours to make up for the lack of natural light.

Newer, more modern homes with open plan designs and large windows will have more natural light, but will also be affected by seasonal changes. In summer they will have a warm, natural feeling, but in winter they will look quite dull. Well placed artificial lighting and warm colours will make the room much more pleasant throughout the seasons.

If you are not sure what to do with colours and lighting, try painting the room white, before choosing a colour. This will allow you to observe the changes that natural light will make and help you choose a colour scheme. You will notice that walls with windows will look darker, as they only receive reflected light. Ceilings will always look darker than walls painted the same colour.

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