How color and light is used to enhance interior design

How color and light is used to enhance interior design

Contributed by Beni Restea

Our homes are the places where we’re supposed to feel most comfortable. It is where we sleep, where we eat most of our meals, and where we live most of our lives. They hold our secrets and keep us safe. A home is a place where our heart is, and because of that, they tend to match our styles.

While a home you recently moved into can feel foreign at least for a while, if we leave it in its initial state and don’t personalize it, it might take a while until it really feels like home. And, the chances are that without a renovation that fits our lifestyle, our home will represent either a chaotic side of us or won’t really fit us properly.

Interior design can transform any blank canvas into our personality’s mirror. Interior designers have been employed and contracted by people for years because of their ability to understand and create the dream interior for their clients. However, if you intend to venture into enhancing your home’s interior design on your own, the following notes will be helpful and will simplify the journey for you.

What is Lighting in Interior Design 

When we discuss lighting in interior design or interior lighting design, a key is not overlooking the basic functionality of the light. Aside from illuminating the indoors of our homes and the outdoors of the world, light allows us to perceive color. Without light, everything would be black.

Something to not be forgotten when dabbling with interior lighting design is that sunlight or daylight is the most important form of lighting that we get in our homes. If at all possible, try to use, enhance, increase the amount of natural light that comes into your home. From there on, we deal with artificial light.

Artificial light is what we use when natural light is available in limited amounts. Important to note that artificial light, like natural light, can be of different intensities ranging from 1,900 K (Kelvin), equivalent to a candle, to 10,000 K, the equivalent of the blue sky. To determine the ideal lighting temperature for your rooms, you first need to know what light temperature does.

  • warm white - yellow hue - between 2,000 K to 3,000 K - inviting, comfortable, relaxing
  • neutral white - white hue - between 3,100 K to 4,500 K - bright, vibrant, clean
  • cool white - blue hue - between 4,600 K to 6,500 K - crisp, invigorating, energetic

Ambient Lighting

Also known as general lighting, ambient lighting is meant to illuminate a whole room by providing a uniform illumination level throughout the room. This type of lighting works independently from other types of lighting, managing to provide enough light without additional light sources. This type of lighting bounces off the walls and illuminates the maximum amount of space possible. Most often, ambient lighting is best around 2,700 K.

Some of the most common types of light fixtures that provide ambient lighting are: chandeliers, ceiling-mounted fixtures, wall-mounted fixtures, traditional recessed fixtures, LED downlights, track lights, floor lamps, table lamps.

Task Lighting

Based on its name, we can already guess the purpose of task lighting. While ambient lighting provides light for general space, task lighting is focused on a specific area for a particular task. This type of lighting works as an alternative light source, designed to provide a smaller focal point and focus light on an area. Task lighting is used in helping a person to perform a task like reading, working, cooking, and computer work. Because of its function, task lighting is best around 5,000 K for a clear illuminated working space.

Some of the most common types of light fixtures that provide task lighting are: portable or desk lamps, pendant lighting, slimline bar and undercabinet, directional gimbal recessed fixture, tape, and extrusion.

Accent Lighting

The primary use of accent lighting is to accentuate something. It could be a design feature, an artwork, stairs, a plant, and so on, but they work to draw the onlooker’s eyes. If used alone, accent lighting needs more than three times the light from ambient lighting on a focal point. This type of lighting can give the impression of a larger space when used correctly. Accent lighting can vary in intensity but can be neutral light and go somewhere in the middle on the temperature scale.

Some of the most common types of light fixtures that provide accent lighting are: track light, tape and extrusion, slimline bar and undercabinet, directional recessed fixture or downlight, and wall-mounted fixtures.

What is Color in Interior Design 

Choosing the right color for the rooms in your home can be tricky if you don’t pay attention to the psychological importance of light and color in interior design. Using the color wheel can simplify the process to a certain extent, as selecting the perfect color for each room can be rather tricky without it.

Colors can be categorized based on types of color and their temperature. Considering that, we have primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, orange, purple), and tertiary colors (combinations between primary and secondary colors). Based on temperature, we also have warm and cool colors. The neutral hues, also known as non-colors, are black, white, grey, brown, and beige. By combining colors and non-colors, we get shades, tints, and tones.

While these are the basics of color theory, using colors to enhance our interior design is much easier by following the first four rules of colors.

The 60-30-10 Rule

Based on your personal preferences, the 60-30-10 rule can be easily applied to improve the interior design of your home. The number 60 represents the percentage of the main color in the room. The secondary color should cover around 30 percent of the room, and the accent color should not cover more than 10 percent of each room.

Warm vs. Cool Colors 

While warm colors like reds, oranges, and yellows are perceived as more upbeat and welcoming, they are better suited for kitchens,  family rooms, entertainment areas, exercise rooms, and so on. In contrast, cool colors, like blues, greens, and purples, are related to calm, relaxing, and soothing, being better suited for bedrooms, bathrooms, offices. The choice of color has an effect on the way energy affects space. As a result, we feel more comfortable in a blue room and more energized in an orange one.

Complimentary Colors Scheme 

The simplest, easiest to use, and most interesting color scheme is the complementary color scheme. This color scheme involved two colors that need to be complementary on the color wheel. If you want to use red in your room, its complementary color is green, for yellow it’s blue, and so on. These color schemes offer extreme contrast to any room, but it’s best to use them in small doses because of their intensity. A good tip is to combine two complementary colors with neutrals to help balance the space out.

Analogous Color Scheme

If the color wheel gives you headaches and you’re worried that you will combine the wrong colors, focus on the color you want for your room and choose the ones on each side of it. If you select green, the color on the left should be a green that tends a bit more towards yellow, while the color on its right should lean towards blue. Like this, you’ll have one vibrant color and shades, and tones from it for the other two. If you’re a big fan of vibrant colors, go for the primary and secondary colors. Like this, you’ll have yellow, orange, and red, but it’s best to use neutral as well and the 60-30-10 rule to balance them out.

Planning our homes’ lighting and color schemes may seem less important than the floorplan of the home. However, these are the elements that transform a house into a home, at least from a visual standpoint. When you choose the colors, it’s important to keep lighting in mind and vice-versa because these two interior design elements work together. Also, because each room is a part of your home, making sure that the color and lighting design flows from one room to the next can make a difference. It is essential to know what is the purpose of each room when starting with color and light, so go ahead and start planning.