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Lighting—How to make the most of colour

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Lighting is something that is often overlooked when it comes to DIY. It's all very well to want a light and airy kitchen, but is simply choosing off-white the best way to take advantage of both natural and artificial lighting? Below is a scientific take, based on examples, on how to make the best of colour in your home by taking advantage of lighting.

What's your feature?

Every room needs a feature. A great way of knowing what your feature should be, is to base that feature on how the light of the day or night (depending on when and how you use the room) would draw your eye too it.

In this example we see the morning sun directly hitting the wall on the right; normally the white light that bounces off that wall should make this room a lot lighter than it is here, but why? Look closely at the other surfaces of the room: the feature wall consists largely of dark coloured tiles that absorb the white light that hits them and stops it being spread throughout the room. The dark grey flooring also contributes to this; look at the depth of the shadow cast on the floor. Finally the white corrugated wall aids in diffusing what's left of the white light, reflected off the right-hand wall, by redirecting it to other areas of the room like the feature wall and floor.

Ultimately the effect by the feature wall and floor helps to create a very admirable and practical ambience in this bedroom. It gives off a tranquil, morning calm whilst not being garishly bright and making the most of the feature wall. A beautiful scene for anyone to wake up to.

Here we see a masterpiece of practical featuring. Look at the way in which the desk stands out, reflecting the white light of the day back at us whilst the dark wall diffuses it, creating a very attractive and practical working environment. Imagine yourself sat there now, you wouldn't want to leave! Imagine how, in the evening, under incandescent light your focus would again be solely upon the desk and what you were doing; in your own world of thought.

Taking advantage of natural light

In rooms like the living room or kitchen, that are used throughout the day, manipulating the light in them is great for highlighting areas of that room when you’re using them.

Take this living room above; I can’t imagine wanting to sit by the fire during the day and, during that time, this part of the room would generally be unused. Note the dark flooring, dull tiles and black metallic surfaces surrounding the area.

During the day, the sun from the large window will pour into the area around the sofa, the complimenting light coloured surfaces surrounding it will definitely take advantage of the fact that this part of the room benefits from sunlight.

By night, the opposite will be the case as; dark colours surrounding the fireplace will aid significantly in drawing your eye to the glow of the fire and actually suppressing a lot of the other artificial light that would be used in the room. The angled roof above will spread a dull but cosy light about the room creating a very homely, flickering ambient light upstairs and down.

Taking advantage of artificial light

Some rooms in your home may be subjected to a distinct lack of natural light. This can cause certain rooms to be quite dark by day and garishly bright in the evening.

Even if the kitchen above is not to everyone's taste, the choice of colour and surface designs are a good example of how to create a pleasant, artificial light in a room that receives little sun in the day and won’t blind you at night.

The white and cream surfaces reflect a lot of that light from the given sun and above ceiling and dresser LED bulbs. The contours and grooves in the woodwork help to diffuse this light and the dull brick colours of the floor tiles absorb a good deal of the lighter shades from the sometimes unpleasant and cold white light that LED’s can provide. Finally the two flower pots help to eat up any unnecessary light that's bouncing around the room and puts the finishing touches on what is undoubtedly a pleasant lighting effect.

In the evening the effect would be much the same, only the dresser would be more of a feature; a bright and airy kitchen that benefits from both practical and attractive lighting.

Don't get metamerized

You may have once bought a fantastic colour to paint a room with, only to find out, too late, that it looks awful when it's finally applied. Metamerism is a common issue that shouldn't be overlooked. Take a close look at this photo here; you will notice a slight reddish/pink hue on the right side stone surfaces and on the ceiling.

The reason for this is that the warmer part of the spectrum (reds, oranges and yellows) will often show up on lightly coloured surfaces as they contain corresponding pigments. The pigment in the stone flooring and of the red oak bar stools here is hit by the warm light of the setting sun and the surrounding lighter surfaces in the room are contaminated with that colour. This particular example may benefit from meterism here, but that it isn’t always the case…

Be aware of the type of lighting that your room is subject too. White florescent bulbs are notorious for sucking away the warmth of a nice deep colour, so you may want to consider replacing them with full-spectrum bulbs; to bring out the real essence of that colour. If that still isn’t enough then replace it with a warm coloured filter; like a yellow tinge.

In areas where you have a lot of lighting, such as the kitchen or bathroom, be very careful to select the right type of bulb for your paint. A lovely autumnal yellow can look great in the day but under a daylight bulb at night it could turn repulsive neon green/yellow. You should make certain that the spectral light provided in your light bulbs corresponds to the pigments in your chosen paint in order to get the best out of them.

Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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