Design Tip: Lighting and Sheen Affect Color

Retro Staff |  Comments

I’d always understood that light affects color, but I never realized just how much until we started painting the master bathroom. We chose a classic gray color that would work well with many types of decor – we didn’t want to be married to a specific overall color theme or design.

We opted for a semi-gloss, which makes for easy cleaning and wiping down of any potential moisture, and I was surprised at just how different the color appears over the vanity. Note that to the right there’s a strip of Hollywood-style round lights that make the room pretty bright. Even with the lights off, though, the change is drastic.

Take a look:

Lights On

Two walls meet: LIGHTS ON

Lights Off

Two walls meet: LIGHTS OFF

Paint Sample

Paint swab

And, in the interest of being even more educational, here’s the tester mark on the lid of the paint can (taken with the same camera under same conditions)… further proof at just how different colors can appear once you get them on the wall.

It’s a shame that most paint cards are so small you can’t really tell just how a color is going to look. Sure, you can buy samples, but that can also get pretty expensive.

The best advice I can give for those on a budget is to not only hold paint cards against molding, mirrors and fixtures, but also to study it several times in a day, so you can see how both natural and artificial lighting changes the appearance.

I’m actually quite happy with how the bathroom is starting to look. Of course, I may sing a different tune if the bedroom color doesn’t suit my taste.

Now I know why they say accent walls should be drastically different shades or hues…


Last updated: Aug 16, 2012
Filed under: Retro Design Tagged with: bathroom, design, painting