Lighting & Color
Have you ever been in someone’s home and decided you absolutely had to have their wall color in your own home? But when you painted your own room, the color looked quite different? What’s up with that? Metamerism.
Yes, metamerism. That simply means: colors seem to change under different light conditions. That’s why it’s never good to choose a color while standing in a paint store!
You really need to look at color swatches in the actual space you are going to paint. It’s also good to look at it in the daytime and the nighttime, and with lamps on and off. I’ve had clients say to me: “But this color looks different at night!” Of course it does. It’s impossible for a paint color to look the same in all lighting conditions.
If you want to get really deep into lighting information… GO HERE
Choosing paint colors in natural sunlight is ideal. Natural sunlight provides the neutral balance between warm and cool ends of the light spectrum (yellow and blue, respectively). Northern light is the coolest, while southern exposure is the most intense. If you paint two rooms – one with a northern exposure and one with a southern exposure – the wall color will look different in each room.
Even natural sunlight isn’t consistent. It changes throughout the day and varies if it’s cloudy or clear. The shadows created by an overcast day impacts how the wall color looks, as well.
What about overhead lighting and lamp light? Incandescent and halogen lights enhance reds and yellows and mute blues and greens. Fluorescent lights enhance blues and greens and mute reds and yellows. To further complicate things, wall color lit from above is going to look a bit different than wall color lit from floor and table lamps.
Some colors are more metameristic than others. Grays, taupes, gray-blue, gray-greens, lavenders, and mauves are particularly affected by lighting conditions. That’s one of the reasons I like those colors so much – they are chameleon colors, which make them more interesting. You are less likely to tire of them quickly, as long as you have the right undertones.
In our daily lives, we often notice that the color of clothing as seen under fluorescent lights indoors looks different under sunlight outdoors and that the same food appears more appetizing under incandescent lighting than it does under fluorescent lighting. Have you ever wondered what causes such differences? We see the color of an object when light strikes it and reflects back to our eyes. In short, the colors we perceive change in accordance with the wavelength component of the light source illuminating the objects we see. This results in the above-mentioned differences we perceive in clothing and food illumination.
Differences in color are represented by “color temperature.” Color temperature is a numeric value representing chroma rather than the temperature of the light source. All objects emit light when heated to an extremely high temperature. Color temperature indicates what color we would see if we were to heat up an object that reflects no light whatsoever, i.e. a “black body,” to a certain temperature. The unit of measurement used in this case is degrees Kelvin. Low-temperature objects appear red, and as they heat up, they start to look blue. As you can see in the table below, the color temperature of reddish colors is low, while that of bluish colors is high. Color temperature is used for such purposes as setting the color on a computer monitor.