Lighting Color Temperature and it’s affect on interior design

Lighting can bring nuance to any space, with light and dark, warm and cold lighting affecting the tone and feel of a location. Lighting is no longer simply a means of illuminating a space. It’s now also used to complement the surrounding interior design. Lighting also goes beyond the design of the lighting fixture itself, as the temperature of the lighting is equally important to defining a space and affecting how people feel within it. 

What Exactly Is Lighting Color Temperature?

Lighting color temperature help indicate how cool or warm lighting is within a space. The hue of the light source varies depending on the light’s heat. While it may seem like it should work conversely, the hotter the light source is, the cooler the temperature will be. Lights that reach temperatures as high as 5,000 Kelvin or more will look blue or white, while the warmer lighting of yellow or orange hue will have a temperature of about 2,500 to 3,000 Kelvin. Some lighting sources, such as candles, can be warm at around 1,200 Kelvin. 5,600 Kelvin, on the other end of the spectrum, is daylight. 

Color display also impacts the light. The color display value measures how well people can see certain colors under a specific kind of light. The color display is used in a color rendering index (CRI) on a scale from 1 to 100 Ra, the latter of which is perfect light, or daylight. 90 Ra would be indoor lighting such as lighting in stores that needs to be as bright as daylight, which you would likely find in a retail outlet and similar locations. 80 Ra, on the other hand, is typical for most indoor environments. 

How Lighting Color Temperature Impacts Psychology


The color temperature, and subsequent hue, can significantly affect how a room feels and looks to occupants. Cool light temperatures promote productivity and concentration, while warmer lighting will be more conducive to relaxation and reduced stress. With a good lighting design strategy in place, the room’s lighting color temperature will match the space’s intended activity. Things can get a little more complicated if you want to create a multipurpose space, but you can take advantage of flexible lighting to set the mood in any location. 

Using Lighting Automation to Optimize Flexibility

With traditional lighting systems, you’re stuck with a single option. You’ll only be able to use a single hue that may or may not work in the space. However, you can benefit from more versatility by utilizing automated lighting controls that allow you to quickly change the feel and tone of the room with ease. By simply pushing a button, you can make a space change from bright and cool to a more relaxed warm area. 

Flexibility is also ideal for interior designers who want to keep up with the latest trends. A contemporary cool look might be stylish for a period, but it may not be the dominating aesthetic from one season to the next. Instead of completely changing the space’s interior decor and other design elements, you can easily adjust the room by using a different color temperature that meets your needs and only removing a few pieces here and there. 

Automated lighting systems will be connected to smart controls that enable you to adjust lighting using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Simply switch the lights on or off, use a dimmer to darken the space, or alternate between warm and cool lighting from any location at any time. 

Products to Use for the Lighting Color Temperature Options


You can find many different LED products to meet your needs regarding just about any lighting temperature between 2,700 Kelvin and 6,500 Kelvin. You can also utilize Solid State Lighting if you want to adjust color using dyes. 

The lighting sources and products you might use for the various lighting color temperature s include: 

  • Less than 2,700 K – Candlelight and natural warm lighting from fire can produce this temperature. 2,700 K – Warm light at this level is produced using incandescent bulbs, which you can use in many different environments from the home to a hospitable atmosphere such as a restaurant. Halogen lighting also falls in this range. If you want to keep occupants comfortable and relaxed, lighting in this range is optimal. 3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin – This is soft and neutral bright light, which will still offer some warmth, but is generally more neutral. Many LED products along with certain warm and soft CFL bulbs offer this kind of lighting color temperature . 5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin – This is daylight or bright white light, which you can achieve using fluorescent lighting products and CFLs. If you want to encourage more productivity and energy in an office or other commercial location, or simply provide sufficient visibility in a store or other location, these lighting products will achieve the desired result. 

Once you’ve decided which products to use to achieve the appropriate temperature, you’ll want to select the right tuning controls based on the warm or cool lighting options you want. 

Different Types of Lighting Color Temperature Controls

Depending on your needs and preferences, there are three main types of lighting color temperature controls you can use. 


Tunable White Lighting

Tunable white controls allow users to access the full range of white lighting ranging from warm tones of around 1,650 Kelvin and neutral lighting to cool white lighting of as high as 8,000 Kelvin. Tunable light will have an effect on Circadian Rhythm regulation and a person’s biological clock, which can increase alertness and energy and improve mood. The type of lighting can change based on the time of day: warm lighting for the morning hours and cool lighting during the afternoon and evening. 

In certain environments, tunable lighting can also help with influencing the ideal mood or behavior by warming or cooling the space based on the Circadian Rhythm. For instance, you may want to calm children during the morning in a classroom with warmer lighting, or inspire more productivity during afternoon hours in an office space with cooler lighting. Ultimately, there are plenty of applications for tunable white lighting options ranging from residential to commercial in nature. 

Dim-to-Warm Lighting

Dim-to-warm lighting color temperature controls, or warm dim, incandescent-like dimming, or blackbody dimming, effectively mimic the dimming performance of halogen or incandescent lighting. You can start with a color temperature of 3,000 Kelvin and make it warmer with yellow or red lighting as you reduce output, setting it as low as candlelight at 1,800 Kelvin. This type of control is often used in venues such as restaurants, theaters, and hotel lobbies where warmer lighting is normally preferred to create a relaxed and welcoming environment. 

Full-Color Tunable

Full-color tunable lighting, also known as RGB, RGBW, or RGBA, color changing, or spectrally tunable lighting, is variable in output to produce a lighting mixture consisting of white, white tinted, or fully saturated hues. One specific benefit that you’ll find with this color tuning option is that you can move the color point from the white light spectrum to lighting with a designated color to match your facility’s branding or for entertainment purposes. You can also use full-color tuning to match the look and intensity of any other kind of light source. You’ll often find this kind of tuning in locations such as corporate offices, theaters, restaurants, and museums. 

Using Lighting Color Temperature and Other Lighting Aspects for Interior Design

Lighting color is simply one factor of interior design. While it can have great impact, it’s important to consider other aspects of the room’s lighting for the desired effect. You can more effectively design any space with the help of a professional who can calculate and measure lighting to meet the needs of any space. For instance, a professional interior designer might measure a lamp’s beam spread to determine how it will hit a space without allowing for a single shadow or angle of light that detracts from the surrounding architecture. Professionals can also put together layered lighting plans that give you total control over lighting color temperature and other elements of lighting in the room. 

In many cases, you may want to experiment and see which lighting levels and arrangements produce the best results when installed. You might find that one layout works better than you thought it might, while another arrangement and level combination you never even thought of sets the perfect mood. Also, consider how the interior design pieces play with the lighting and influence the space, as you might discover that different layouts complement the adjusted lighting. 

Regardless of the ideal tone or mood you have in mind for a space, it’s important to consider lighting color temperature when designing any interior, whether for a home or a business. Taking this element into consideration along with the rest of the space’s interior design elements will help create an unforgettable and optimal space for any activity from work to leisure. 

Post Author: Randy E

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