chandeliers hanging from the ceiling

The Effects of Color Temperature on Your Home’s Ambiance

Lighting can make or break the ambiance of any room in your home. That’s why knowing how to choose the right color temperature is crucial. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, color temperature refers to the tone and shade of the light emitted by the lightbulb. It can go from cool white to warm yellow and orange. The effects of color temperature on the overall ambiance have been studied for a while now, and some interesting conclusions have been made. If you want to know how to achieve a certain vibe with the help of lighting, keep on reading.

How is color temperature measured?

The first step in understanding the effects of color temperature is knowing what the markings on the lightbulbs mean. The unit used for color temperature in Kelvin (K). The scale used for lightbulbs usually goes from 2000K to 6500K, depending on the manufacturer. 

Warm shades of light are located on the lower end of the scale. The lightbulbs emitting yellow or warm white light will usually go up to 3000K. Neutral white light is in the middle of the scale, at around 4000K. Finally, towards the higher end of the scale, you’ll find cool, bright whites. For example, midday sunlight, which is considered a cool white, is at 5500K. 

Knowing how to use each of these shades properly can bring your home’s interior to a new level. On the other hand, using the wrong colored light can easily throw the atmosphere off. 

Let’s start with the warm lighting: what effects does it have?

Any lightbulb up to 3000K would be considered a warm light source. If we compare this to natural light sources, firelight would be a good example. 

We usually associate this type of lighting with comfort and coziness, and that’s exactly the atmosphere you’ll create by using warm lightbulbs. This can be useful in numerous situations. For example, if you’ve just moved and want to make a fresh start in your new place, creating a cozy atmosphere will help you settle into a new home. 

Lightbulbs emitting yellow light
Warm lighting will instantly make the room feel cozy

Where and how to use warm lighting?

Warm lighting will benefit any room where you want to create a cozy and warm atmosphere. This includes bedrooms, living rooms, and even your backyard or porch. All of these are places where you’d usually relax and unwind after a long day, and warm lighting can be extremely helpful with that.

Your choice of lighting fixtures also has a significant effect. Instead of overhead fixtures like chandeliers, consider using floor and table lamps to achieve a cozy atmosphere. Avoid using warm lighting in rooms where you need a clear overview of what’s going on. This includes areas like bathrooms or a kitchen. 

living room with two warm light table lamps
You can use the effects of color temperature to set the mood in a room

Alt-tag: A living room with two warm light table lamps

How does cool lighting affect our perception of a room?

Cool lighting automatically makes the atmosphere more energetic. The colors look more vibrant, and the visibility is generally better. This will make anyone in the room feel more alert and receptive. Furthermore, it can increase productivity as it won’t allow you to cozy up and get sleepy.

However, you should keep in mind that cool lighting can have a few downsides if it’s not used correctly. In some cases, it can make the room look sterile and uninviting (think an operation room). It can also make your eyes feel tired after a while, especially if you’re using very cool white bulbs. These are important factors to consider when deciding where to include this type of lighting.

Where to use it?

Any room where you need to clearly see what’s going on will benefit from cool lighting. This is why it’s a good choice for your kitchen or bathroom. It can also be good in your work or exercise rooms. If you’re trying to establish a productive vibe in certain areas of your new home after moving, experts at Verified Movers suggest adding cool lightbulbs to those rooms. A home office is a great example of a room that would benefit from cool lighting.

The effects of light on size perception

Apart from the overall vibe, the color temperature can also affect how we perceive the size of the indoor space. The cozy effect of warm lighting can be beneficial in numerous ways. However, it can also make the room seem smaller. It’s a good option for larger rooms with a lot of open space, as it won’t make them feel too cramped. 

Cool lighting is generally brighter, and because of that, it has the opposite effect. It will lighten the room, making it seem bigger and more open. You can use this to your advantage if you want to visually enlarge a smaller room that doesn’t get too much natural lighting.

A grey-toned living room
Using cool-toned lighting will automatically make the space seem larger

Important notes on using different color temperatures within your home

Apart from being familiar with the effects of color temperature on mood and atmosphere, you should be familiar with a few rules you should generally follow. Firstly, never mix two types of lighting in one room. This will make it look odd and will defeat the purpose of each of them. Also, keep in mind that some lighting fixtures will work better with different colors of light. Cool lighting can be great when combined with overhead fixtures, light strips, and desk lamps used for work. On the other hand, warm lightbulbs are perfect for floor and table lamps, as well as some types of chandeliers.

Nowadays, there are also adjustable lightbulbs on the market. You usually control them through a remote control or a mobile app. They can emit warm, cool, and neutral lighting. This makes them perfect if you want to use one room for a few different things or you just can’t decide the exact vibe you’re going for.


Lighting is one of the most important factors in interior design. Knowing how to use the effects of color temperature to your favor can make your home look like it’s been decorated by a professional. Furthermore, it can improve your quality of life as lighting has a significant effect on your mood. Taking your time to research really pays off here, making your home a much more pleasant space.

Author bio: Janet Wilson is an architect and an interior designer. Throughout her 15-year career, she has helped many people make their homes as beautiful as possible.

Janet Wilson

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