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Color and Light

The type of light under which color is viewed impacts how we perceive a particular hue.

Temperature:Whether we perceive a color as warm or cool is relative to the particular color and its surrounding colors. Generally, reds, yellows, and oranges are warm colors, while blues, greens, and violets are considered cool.Warm colors tend to "advance" or "condense" a room, while cool colors "recede" or "expand" a room. Combining both warm and cool colors in a decorating scheme intensifies the temperature of the respective colors.

Intensity:Intensity (or chroma) refers to a color's purity or brightness and, conversely, its dullness. The purer or less gray a color, the more intensity it has. Bright yellow and cherry red are high-intensity colors; ochre and brick are low-intensity colors. Try using intense colors as accents in your décor. Intense colors add energy to a room, while lower-intensity colors can give a room a calming effect.

Direct Sunlight

Considered the ideal light source, natural sunlight maintains a neutral balance between both the warm (yellow cast) and cool (blue cast) ends of the light spectrum. Northern light is the coolest, while light from a southern exposure is the strongest. Direct sunlight provides the "truest" rendition of colors in a room.

Indirect Sunlight

Natural sunlight is not consistent. It changes from sunrise to noon, to late afternoon and dusk. The intense golden rays and distinct shadows of a sunny, late afternoon can have a profound effect on the colors in a room.

Artificial Light

Color rendition appears warm under incandescent and halogen lights. Reds and yellows are enhanced and blues and greens are culled. Under the cool cast of fluorescent lights, blues and greens are enhanced, while reds and yellows are muted.


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