Sherwin Williams

color & inspiration

learn about color

in this section

color theory & behavior

Natural

Natural light is the light from the sun. The natural light in your room depends on the number and position of your windows, as well as the time of day.

  • Northern facing rooms have a light that is cooler and diffused. Lighter colors make the room feel more open while warm, saturated tones can compensate for the coolness.
  • Southern facing rooms will be warm and sunny. Dark colors will work in this space while cool shades will balance the yellow- ness of the light.
  • Western facing rooms have light that is strong and warm, especially in the afternoon hours. The light can change dramatically throughout the day, so use neutral colors for a more balanced feeling.
  • Eastern Light windows that face east will generally give a room a softer light. The light will be at its strongest and warmest in the morning, becoming more muted throughout the day. A mix of warm and cool colors will help balance out the changes in light.

Artificial

The most common types of lighting used in homes are incandescent, fluorescent and halogen. Each of these types of light affects color differently.

  • Halogen bulbs provide a nearly white light that means your color choices will not be affected much by the light. You can feel comfortable choosing whatever colors suit you.
  • Fluorescent lighting is generally perceived as cooler with a slightly blue-ish cast. This means that blues and greens will be enhanced by the lighting, while warmer tones of yellows and yellow-reds may feel pale or slightly muted.
  • Most incandescent light bulbs provide a warm, yellow light. Bright, warm colors will feel more intense in this light. Cooler colors may be appear dulled.
  • Eastern Light windows that face east will generally give a room a softer light. The light will be at its strongest and warmest in the morning, becoming more muted throughout the day. A mix of warm and cool colors will help balance out the changes in light.

NOTE: The US is transitioning from incandescent light bulbs to more energy efficient fluorescent bulbs. While it is generally believed that fluorescent light is cool and flat, lighting manufacturers have created bulbs that compensate for this. Read the packaging to see if the bulb is designed to provide warmer or cooler light, as this will affect the appearance of color in the room. It is best to actually try the light in your room and test your paint color choice.