A Homeowner's Guide to Lighting Colours and Tones

Date Posted:26 October 2015 

You have a clear, complete vision for your home, from the furnishings to the draperies. But finding the perfect items to bring that picture together can sometimes prove difficult. For many homeowners, choosing lighting can pose one of the most difficult choices.

You know what you want the end result to look like, but you may not know whether a cool or warm bulb will help you achieve that effect.

In this blog, we guide you through four lighting fundamentals: white coloured lighting versus yellow coloured lighting and cool tones versus warm tones.


When you choose a light bulb or lighting fixture, you have the option of choosing white- or yellowcoloured light. A light's colour depends on how the metal in the bulb responds to heat. White bulbs get hotter than yellow lights. That temperature can affect a white bulb's energy efficiency, but it shouldn't necessarily represent your primary concern.

Common lighting colour choices include the following:

  • White-These lights work well in a home office, studio, study, garage, shed, kitchen or bathroom. They are available as compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.
  • Yellow-These lights are suited for bedrooms, living rooms, hallways, pantries and lit cupboards. They are available as incandescent, compact fluorescent and halogen bulbs.

There is no incorrect choice of lighting colour. However, the colour you choose can affect the way your furnishings look and the functionality of your lights. For example, a white light may make a space seem stark, but it provides better light to read by.

In general, choose white light for modern spaces or rooms where you plan to work or read. Opt for yellow lighting to make a room seem homier or cosier.

In addition to base colour, a bulb's tone can create a different effect, as we discuss in the next section.


At first, when you look at lighting, you may just look at whether a bulb appears white or yellow. In reality you have more than two choices because lighting colours fit into this basic spectrum:

  • Candlelight-The yellowest option, candlelight bulbs create dim light. This tone works well as ambient light in rooms with accent lamps to improve visibility in specific areas.
  • Yellow light-When you picture the yellow of a lamp, you're imagining traditional yellow light. This tone is easy on the eyes but brighter than candlelight bulbs.
  • White light-Warm white light is ideal for many living spaces because it provides a high level of lighting without becoming glaring.
  • Daylight-Cool white light, also known as a daylight tone, looks the most natural. However, like direct natural light, daylight bulbs can seem harsh, especially in more intimate rooms, like bedrooms.
  • Blue sky-The whitest white light is actually also the bluest light option. Blue sky lighting works well in studio spaces, workshops and home offices where you perform detail-oriented work. However, blue sky lighting is too harsh for most homes and generally isn't recommended.

Before you make your final lighting decisions, test out several lighting tones. The tone of your lighting can completely change the colour of your decor and the feeling of your space. For example, a light blue wall may appear greenish in candlelight lighting but look washed out in daylight lighting.


Still feel unsure about the lighting in a particular area of your home or property? Consult with a lighting expert to get recommendations based on your decor, end vision and current lighting choices.

To learn more about particular bulb types, read our blog 'The Advantages of Using LED Bulbs in Your Home'.

Use your new knowledge about lighting characteristics to create the perfect ambience in your home and personal outdoor spaces. Whether you prefer a cosy, earthy feeling or a clean, modern look, your lighting choices are an essential step in creating your dream room.

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