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How to Light a Room With Gray Walls

How to Light a Room With Gray Walls

Rather than sticking with traditional white walls in your kitchen or dining room, the newest trend is a soft gray with the undertones of one color or another. When it’s done right, you get a gorgeous contemporary color that works well with many styles of furniture. More often than not, what you see in your local paint or home improvement store is not what you get in your home. If your gray walls are more purple, green, or yellow than you intended, we have some lighting tips to help you achieve the perfect shade of gray.

Tip #1: Go Outside


Before you embark on a grand redecorating adventure, painting etiquette dictates that you compare swatches and test paint squares on your wall. This is step we strongly encourage you not to skip. It’s more than just finding the right shade to appease your tastes. Regardless of the convenience home improvement stores provide, the lighting is less than ideal. The commercial-grade lighting is often a different color temperature and color rendering index (CRI) than home-sweet-home. First, you will want to take the paint swatch or chip outside of the store and into the sunlight. Natural sunlight, the standard which all artificial lighting is compared, is the best light to get an accurate idea of what the color should look like.

Tip #2: Test Your Paint


Next, get a little can of test paint to color a patch of the wall in your chosen room. Some people like to paint a square of poster board as well so they can hold it up to the intended furniture and fabrics of the room to see if the colors work well together. If painting a room with a window, consider using two swatches to make sure you like how it looks when the sun hits the paint and when it’s in shadow or artificial light from the room. You will need to determine if you like the paint during the daylight hours and at night with your current lighting. If you test your paint thoroughly before committing, you can significantly lower your risk of having to attempt a dreaded repainting.

CRI and Color Temperature: Your Best Friends

Understanding and utilizing your bulb’s CRI and color temperature effectively can help you control the light’s appearance. The Color Rendering Index (CRI) measures the effect a light source has on the perceived color of objects and surfaces. It helps determine how accurate a light is at portraying colors. A high CRI light makes nearly all colors look natural and vibrant. While a low CRI can cause some colors to appear muted, washed out, or even take on a completely different hue. Color temperature, which is measured in Kelvin (K), indicates the lamp light’s apparent color. The light can be grouped into one of three general temperatures: warm, midrange, or cool. The lower the Kelvin number is, the warmer the light and vice versa.

Tips for After You’ve Painted

You may reach a crossroads where you like the paint color in the sunlight but your interior lighting leaves something to be desired. Make sure you understand the characteristics of your current light before changing it. What type of light source do you have? Is it incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, or LED? Each light source has its own pros and cons, many of which involve the light’s CRI or color temperature.


Incandescents have a perfect 100 on the scale of CRI yet their color temperature is a warm 2700K, which is sometimes yellower than preferred. Halogen bulbs offer an excellent CRI as well but the excessive heat they produce can cause fading in non-latex paint and delicate fabrics, not to mention raise the temperature of a room with unnecessary heat. Fluorescents offer great light output but low CRI, excluding specific CFLs engineered with high CRI. LEDs like CFLs have a decent CRI to begin with but can be engineered with higher CRI for greater color accuracy. CFL and LED bulbs also offer the greatest control over the color temperature to achieve the right perception by the human eye.

Tip #3: Check the CRI

Before you change your lights, check the CRI of your potential new lights either by reading the box or going online to find it. A CRI of 90 or above is good, that means the bulb’s light will display color more accurately. We always recommend LEDs for the highest CRIs and color control. For especially accurate color rendering, you can check with your manufacturer to see if your prospective bulb choice has been evaluated using TM-30. The TM-30 measurement uses 99 test color samples versus the 8 samples used to determine CRI. A bulb rated with TM-30, like the entire line of Soraa LEDs, will more precisely portray red and indigo as well as the saturation for all colors.

Tip #4: Check the Color Temperature


In addition to a high CRI, the color temperature you choose can make a difference. Warm white LEDs or CFLs around 2700K bring richness to red, browns, and yellows because the light is slightly more yellow than white. Cool white LEDs between 3500K to 4000K have a slightly more blue tint, which makes them ideal for blue, greens, and purple. If your grey is blue-based and you want to highlight the undertone, go for cooler colored lights. The reverse can be said of red or yellow-based grays: use warmer lights. A good neutral light would be 3000K to 3500K, also known as halogen or bright white. It isn’t as blue or as harsh as a cool white 4000K bulb.

Are you ready to paint the town or at least your kitchen? If you need more advice on your lighting, please call our dedicated team of experts at 1-800-624-4488 and they will gladly help you narrow down your choices.

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