Color is one of the most fundamental elements of design—and one of the easiest ways to transform a room. But what has the biggest effect on color is light—especially sunlight. The designers at Gary Riggs Home are here to shed light on how to make the most of color in your space.

When we see light, we think of it as being white or colorless. But in actuality, light is not white—it is instead a spectrum of red, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. There are some colors, such as reds, oranges, browns and blacks, which hold the light like a sponge, refusing to bounce it back into space. When light hits, say, a highly saturated red wall, most parts of the color spectrum are absorbed—except the red, which is reflected to your eye.

Other colors like pale green, pale blue, and pale lilac amplify and reflect light. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the paint—the nearer to white it is—the higher its reflective value will be.

Although we might love the color in the tin or on the swatch, that doesn’t guarantee it will look so fabulous on your walls once daylight enters the room. To prevent disappointment, the Gary Riggs Home designers encourage you to use these guidelines:

  • Get to know the room: Wall color changes depending on whether the space faces north, south, east or west. If you’re planning on adding color to a room, consider which direction from which the sunlight will be coming into the room. Eastern and northern-facing rooms get less sunlight, so they tend to be darker and colder—try bright, warm color palettes here. The room that face south or west get more sunlight and are warm enough in their own right to take cooler colors.
  • Geography matters: It is also important to take into account the quality and color of the natural light of area where you live. For example, North Texas’ golden light comes from our blue, blue skies and produces dark, richly colored shadows. This type of daylight will help bring vibrant colors—such as Mediterranean blue—to life, while the light entering a room in a place like Seattle can make vibrant colors look dull. Also, if your room is dark and dingy, painting it brilliant white won’t help. White without light looks grey.
  • As the day changes, the light changes: The color of light changes throughout the day and needs to be taken into consideration when choosing a color. For example, light at dawn has pink hues, while it’s bluer at midday and purple-red in the evening.
  • Consider what’s outside: What will the sunlight reflect off of as it enters the room? Sidewalk? Pool? Green grass? That will also affect the color of the light in the room, which is often something people forget to consider. So, for example, if you paint the room a sunny yellow and the light reflects off of green grass, then you could get a kind of acidy tinge to the color.
  • Finish plays a role: Another thing to keep in mind is that light is radically affected by the paint’s finish. Gloss will reflect light, while matte will absorb it. Gloss will also look much lighter than eggshell. You’ll get a much lighter look if you’re painting a smooth wall than if you’re painting over textured wallpaper or using textured paint.
  • What’s in the tin is not what you’ll see on the wall: Rather than painting little dabs of color on the wall to see if the color works, go for big blocks of test color so you can really see what it will look like. If possible, place the block in a corner so you can see how it looks in both shade and light. Make sure to give your test patch at least two coats.

If you need help adding color to your home, be sure to give the specialists at Gary Riggs Home a call or stop by their Dallas location.