Being outdoors and witnessing the sun take its journey through the sky is one of life’s great pleasures. That is, until its natural light negatively affects our paint color…
Ever Changing Natural Light
The way that natural light brings color to life is inherently beautiful, in part, because it’s never stagnant. In nature, we have the opportunity to witness color nuances throughout the day as the sun makes it’s journey through the sky. Many enjoy the spectacle of this outdoors, yet experience frustration when their indoor paint colors “change” by taking on characteristics of the sunlight they receive. In understanding the way natural light effects color based on the sun’s position in the sky, and the direction it enters your room, you’ll have a better chance of selecting paint colors you’ll love throughout the day.
As the sun follows its arc through the sky, the light it provides changes color. Before sunrise the illumination detected is very blue, but will quickly change over to red at dawn and extend through mid-morning. While the sun continues its ascent, the red begins to diminish until it’s directly overhead at noon. This point of the day enjoys the most “neutral” colored light of all. From here, the color pattern reverses as the sun’s arc maintains a downward path. Throughout the afternoon the light will become warmer and redder until the “ultimate brilliance” we know as sunset. This, of course, lasts but a very short time until it’s replaced by blue at twilight. Recognizing the changes sunlight undergoes during the day helps us better grasp why our paint colors do as well.
Next, understanding how color is affected by the direction light enters a room is key. Light entering rooms from a North or East direction adds blue and green to the walls respectively. Painting rooms such as these in cool blues and greens, rather than warm colors, is ideal. If you truly wish a North or East facing room to be painted in warm colors, try deeper shades of yellow, red or orange which will be less likely to take on a sickly look than a pale warm color. Light streaming in from the South is yellow, but also very strong causing many shades to look “washed out”. Using deeper, stronger versions of warm colors will help combat this. Finally, orange is added to rooms with a Western direction which can make warm colors feel very strong. Because orange is warm, I would stick to warm colors on the wall BUT go light handed in color depth.
Finally, accepting that paint colors will change throughout the day while also taking into consideration the direction your room faces, will help you pinpoint what type colors, warm or cool, will work best in your room. After that, start taking into consideration the “fixed elements” of your room until you narrow down your choices to two or three. After painting sample boards of each color, allow yourself the luxury of several days to study the samples in all types of light to assure yourself that the warm purple you wish to use truly is perfect. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the benefits of your labor.