Natural lighting can have a serious impact on the appearance of certain colors at certain times of the day. As such, you might wonder what color you should paint your room if it receives a lot of natural light. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, natural lighting will not always make some colors appear brighter. We have thoroughly researched what colors are best for a room with plenty of natural lighting.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Determine the ideal paint color for a room with a lot of natural light by considering the room's function and the direction it is facing. Kitchens tend to use more natural lighting. But any rooms that face north or south are likely to receive consistent natural light all day long. For each situation, the ideal colors will create a consistent style and balance:
- Red, Yellow, Pink, or Green
Painting a naturally lit room can be tricky because sunlight can alter how paint colors appear. Keep reading to learn about why this happens, how you can bring in more natural light, and how to brighten up your home with different paints and artificial lights.
How does natural light affect paint color?
Natural light presents different tones based on the direction or time of day because of the sun's position over the horizon. This means that rooms facing east or west will have changing hues throughout the day. Meanwhile, those facing north or south will have consistent lighting throughout the day.
However, a room that faces north will receive indirect light, which results in softer lighting that casts a blue tone. A room that faces south will instead receive intense yellow and gold tones all day.
It's important to note that these rules apply to the northern hemisphere. The relationships are actually reversed for those who live in the southern hemisphere.
White is a hot, pure neutral that has no true color. Instead, white actually reflects all colors, which means it will pair nicely with any of them. This reflective ability also means that a white room will be brighter and even appear larger than it really is.
Painting a room white is especially common for kitchens, which usually receive more natural lighting than the rest of your home. That's because kitchens are ordinarily smaller, and they can feel especially cramped if the kitchen is frequently busy.
As such, it's ideal for a kitchen to feel brighter and airier. Also, since white is so flexible, you can fill a white kitchen with more colorful décor that could otherwise feel too overwhelming.
North Facing Rooms
White is also ideal for north-facing rooms, subject to soft blue light all day long in the northern hemisphere. Blue is a color with a permanently cool temperature. As a result, the room is generally darker, emphasizing dark colors and dimming the lighter paint.
You can use white paint to balance out the coolness of the constant blue mood. But white is uniquely suited to liven up the room without simply smothering the natural blue tones. Because white is so reflective, it will brighten the area without drawing any attention to itself.
This nearly neutral color is flexible, without extreme cold or hot temperatures. Instead, brown serves as the middle ground between cool-toned white and gray or black, for instance. That's because it is a warm tone, often feel related to the warm color orange.
Brown will also invite the use of natural wood, which tends to have brown tones or undertones. Using brighter forms of brown, such as beige and tan, will pair nicely with any wooden kitchen cabinets. They will also bring enough warmth to keep the kitchen feeling bright enough.
Beige, tan, and other cream variants of brown can also be used in north-facing rooms to brighten the area. However, brown is flexible enough that darker shades such as walnut may be used in rooms that face south. While most warm colors would be blown out by the glow of southern yellows, brown is subdued enough to remain balanced.
This pure neutral is permanently cool-toned, which means that it is not especially suited for kitchens or rooms that face north. However, because gray is neutral, it is still flexible enough to work with any color that is consistent in style.
As such, gray can be used in south-facing rooms to soften the sharp glow of constant bright sunlight. You can even use gray as an undertone in true colors to create a more balanced look. Gray and blue are already closely associated because silver and metal often have blue undertones.
Because even the brightest shade of blue is always cool, it is not ideal for kitchens that need brightness. Also, north-facing rooms are already subjected to a consistent level of blue tones. This means that blue paint would become overwhelming. Instead, you can use blue to soften the light in rooms that face south. But unlike gray, blue will introduce color.
What color paint lightens up a room?
Brighter colors such as red, yellow and pink will always lighten up a room because they reflect more light, while darker colors absorb light. This rule also extends to warm neutrals such as white and brown, even though they are not actual colors. And although green neighbors with blue on the traditional color wheel, green is always warm.
You can use any combination of these flowery colors to brighten a kitchen or bluish, north-facing room. They are not ideal for a south-facing room, which will blow out colors already so sharp and bold.
How can I make my room light and airy?
Multiple approaches will achieve these effects, and the size of the room must be considered. But the simplest way to brighten a room is to use consistent, lighter colors and neutrals for the large surfaces and décor.
You may also brighten and open a room by manipulating the lighting. Use thicker curtains to block out sunlight or dimmable lights to command your own artificial lighting.
Using a lot of white will also open up the room by making areas appear larger than they actually are. Similarly, you can use certain décor tricks to play with the proportions of your room. For example, you can use floor-to-ceiling curtains to draw the eye upwards and make a ceiling appear taller.
How can I make my house feel brighter?
Aside from following the same advice to make a room light and airy, you can make an entire house feel brighter with additional tricks. You can avoid interior designs that use modern features because they usually favor slick, cool neutrals and only pops of color.
Also, be sure that the floor is darkest, grounding the surrounding area to highlight brighter colors instead. Or brighten the home by inviting more natural light into the rooms or introducing your own artificial lighting.
How do you bring natural light into a room?
You can use the reflections of white paint and mirrored surfaces to recycle natural light only coming from limited sources. Also, consider mirrors themselves tend to resemble windows on their own. You can read the post "Where To Put A Mirror In Your Bedroom? [With Tips According To Feng Shui]" for help positioning your mirrors.
You may also use thin curtains, which will still offer enough privacy while letting in more sunlight. In kitchens, café curtains are popular since they only cover one-half of the windows. Note that these have a unique vintage look, which may not agree with all interior designs.
How do you fake natural light in a dark room?
The best way to do this is to use artificial lighting, usually providing either blue or yellow tones. You can use incandescent bulbs for a golden look that simulates natural lighting from the south. Or, fluorescent bulbs will typically bring a blue tint that resembles natural lighting in rooms that face north.
You may even use recessed lights, which remain hidden inside the ceiling. But they can sometimes feel too modern, too. You can read the post "How Big And How Bright Should Recessed Lighting Be?" for tips on using recessed lights effectively.
You may also try to make the room more reflective, using mirrors, brighter paint colors, or even a shiny gloss for your furniture. This is common on wooden fixtures or furniture, which can be stained with various degrees of gloss.
Natural lighting can influence the appearance of any color. Also, the direction your room faces will determine both the consistency and type of its natural lighting. So, direction also dictates the natural undertones of the room. Choosing the right paint color will balance the brightness and tone for the look you prefer.