AKJ Architects LLC

Light and Paint

The types of lighting specified for homes is quite different from the lighting used in an office or at your local grocery store. At our entries, we want ample lighting to welcome visitors, in our living rooms we want warm lighting to create an inviting environment, for our precious artwork we want accent lighting to properly light the colors as the artist intended, and for working at our desks (or in the kitchen) we want crisp bright task lighting on the work surface. The decisions made regarding lighting will impact the final perception of all finishes & paint colors within our homes. So before getting too giddy that you want your bedroom paint to be a particular yellow and bathroom paint to be a specific warm white, take time to look at those colors with the exact lighting you will be using when your space or spaces are completed.

The types of lighting specified for homes is quite different from the lighting used in an office or at your local grocery store. At our entries, we want ample lighting to welcome visitors, in our living rooms we want warm lighting to create an inviting environment, for our precious artwork we want accent lighting to properly light the colors as the artist intended, and for working at our desks (or in the kitchen) we want crisp bright task lighting on the work surface.  The decisions made regarding lighting will impact the final perception of all finishes & paint colors within our homes.  So before getting too giddy that you want your bedroom paint to be a particular yellow and bathroom paint to be a specific warm white, take time to look at those colors with the exact lighting you will be using when your space or spaces are completed.  Don’t select the color in a warehouse where fluorescents are used!  I can only imagine the look of anguish on a homeowner who painted a wall a particular taupe, hung a precious piece of art and installed a complementary wool rug to see the installation and say, “What happened – that is not what I wanted?” 

Yes, times have changed since Edison produced the incandescent Filament lamp in the 19th century (the A lamps you grew up with)

These incandescent bulbs have a correlated color temperature (CCT) of approximately 2700 Kelvin.  The light provided was warm with a bit of yellow and the bulb heated up.  Then, manufacturers introduced the Halogen A Style lamps which had a correlated color temperature of 3,000 Kelvin.  Recessed halogen bulbs were the choice for lighting art because it was the best option for color rendering.  And let’s not discuss fluorescents – the blue color worked in the office and would only be used in the garage at home…

Today, there are a number of new options

I can’t emphasize how important it is to include lighting when selecting a paint color, or else you might not be pleased with the end result.  Ah… and that could cost you money to repaint not to mention the mental frustration.  Now, with all the choices in lighting, many people are still drawn to the warm color of the incandescent bulb and LED manufacturers (Light Emitting Diodes) have products that simulate the 2700K of an incandescent bulb.  Also, LEDs are manufacturered with a color temperature of 3,000 Kelvin for designs where the goal is to have the most accurate color rendition.  And finally, in your walk-in closet, you might want to install LEDs with a correlated color temperature (CCT) of 4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin.  4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin, a color that is the closest color to natural light.  So take some time to learn how each type looks in your home to make the best decision.   A few other benefits of LEDs are that they have no mercury, there are no damaging effects of UV, they don’t generate heat, and the lights have a superior life.

I can’t emphasize how important it is to include lighting when selecting a paint color, or else you might not be pleased with the end result.

Stumptown cred sriracha, +1 kogi Schlitz beard Brooklyn Intelligentsia yr put a bird on it. How do todays LEDs work with paint?  When you are selecting a blue color, take a look at the Light Reflectance Value (LRV) on the painting specification.  The range is 0% to 100%.  If the LRV is below 50%, the color is darker and will absorb more light than it will reflect.  If the LRV is above 50%, the color is lighter and will reflect more light back into the room.  Benjamin Moore recommends that LRV be around 50% for interior spaces.  For example, if that blue paint has an LRV of 50, then the natural and artificial lighting will not bounce off the painted surface or be absorbed.  One reason whites are so functional in a space is that their LRV of 90 makes the most of both artificial and natural light when lighting up a room.

An additional aspect of paint that you’ll want to be aware of is the paint sheen.  Matte sheen is a typical ceiling finish where surface defects are most imperceptible.  Eggshell has a bit more sheen and is still quite forgiving in that surface defects are not as visible as a glossy sheen.  And high gloss surfaces will look really cool and at the same time reflect all the surface defects a the wall or cabinet is not properly prepared.

Having a strong knowledge of the latest lighting technology and products helps professional make better lighting choices.  Two tips to consider:

When you have found your favorite color, buy a quart of paint and make some samples to use as mock-ups or have your local paint shop make these samples (request “draw-downs”) for you.  Put them on the wall and study them in the morning, late in the day and with your actual artificial lighting.  How does it look?  The goal is to confirm that the colors read accurately. 

Think about layering lighting in your home.  What do I mean by Layered Lighting?  Ambient lighting is the general lighting for a room.  Task lighting are the lights that you use in the kitchen when chopping veggies or in your office reading.  And, accent lighting are the decorative elements – think about the chandelier above the dining table.  Decorative and ambient lighting work best when coupled together within a space.  More on that topic later. 

Thinking about a project that includes lighting and color?  Feel free to give us a call or send us an email.

Arlene Kisiel-Jermann

Arlene brings over twenty-five years of design experience to her company. As a professional who strives to provide exceptional customer service, creative design skills, and an eye for detail, AKJA has the experience and training to lead your residential project from concept through completion.

Arlene received her Master in Architecture Degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her Master in Science in Interior Design from the University of Massachusetts and her Bachelor degree from Skidmore College with a major in Art & minor in Spanish. Arlene's combination of creative degrees in Architecture, Interior Design and Fine Art give her a holistic approach to residential design and enable her to quickly comprehend and efficiently collaborate with other professionals. At MIT, she coupled her studies with graduate courses at the MIT Center for Real Estate where she studied business. Since a young age, Arlene has had numerous academic opportunities to travel throughout America, Europe and Asia and learn about art and culture throughout the world.

Since 1987, Arlene has been privileged and trusted to work on residential and commercial projects with multi-million dollar budgets. She has managed all phases of residential design, architecture, and construction for well-established Seattle architecture firms such as Sullivan Conard Architects, NBBJ, and General Contractor Toth Construction, a Seattle based custom residential builder. Arlene launched her own firm in 2007 to design new and renovated homes, cabins and condominiums ranging in size from 500sf to 10,000sf. She brings passion, creativity, a commitment to succeed, and a powerful blend of skills, education and experience to every residential architecture project.

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