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Colour and light

Every colour has different effect levels:
  • Direction of the room
  • Substrate
  • Ingredients
  • Time of day
  • Surrounding colours and materials
Colour absorbs light, plays with it and changes under its influence.
When we go shopping for clothes, experience tells us to look at the colour of a piece of clothing not only in the shop but also in daylight. We all know that colours look completely different in artificial light.
When selecting furniture, materials or wall paints, however, a mere look in daylight does not suffice to examine the actual colour. This is because special light conditions prevail within our own four walls.

Colours are brighter and more intense in light-flooded rooms, but very bright colour shades become even brighter in sunlight. Rooms with evening sun make colours appear in gentle, soft light, and particularly reddish and yellowish shades are accentuated. Rooms facing north change colours least. Sunlight has different proportions of red, yellow and blue depending on the time of day.

Sample surfaces

This is why it is recommended to make a small sample surface on the wall concerned, as colours have a different effect on every wall. This is the only way to obtain your dream colour shade and atmosphere with 100% certainty. Sample surfaces created with wall paint should always be inspected near a window but also in a dark corner.

Colour effect in different types of light
Always examine the interaction of different colours and material samples not only in daylight but also in artificial light in the evening. In the warm light of light bulbs, red and yellow shades seem warmer, green shades more yellow, blue shades greener and blue violet shades greyer. Halogen light only generates warm colour shades when it is dimmed. Energy saving lamps change colours in a similar way to standard light bulbs.

Colour has an impact on the environment
Please also note: colour changes the colour of light.
When light hits a coloured surface, it also changes the colour of its environment. A room with only one red wall will appear to be entirely red, whereas the other white walls seem to be rose coloured.

Wibke Schaeffer

Kindly supported by
architect Wibke Schaeffer, Lichte Art, Cologne.

For more information, advice on optimum colour selection or seminars and workshops on colour psychology, please contact Wibke Schaeffer on .