Colour temperature matters: Interior Lighting Room by Room

January 25, 2022 4 min read

Colour temperature matters: Interior Lighting Room by Room

(image courtesy of well-lit-co-uk)

How important do you think the colour temperature of your lighting is to the look and feel of your home?

If you answered ‘important’ or ‘very important’, you’re definitely on the right track! We’d even say that colour temperature is ‘essential’ when it comes to creating the perfect ambiance for individual rooms and in lighting areas with specific functions, such as home offices and study stations.

We’ve previously taken a close look at colour temperature for exterior lighting, but today we’re going to delve deep into colour temperature vis-à-vis interior lighting. Covering a range of lighting types – including pendants and downlights – we’ll discuss the best lighting colour temp choices to suit kitchens, home offices, bedrooms and bathrooms.

First let’s take a look at how colour temperature is measured…

Q: What’s the Kelvin scale and how does it work?

understanding colour temperatures and what it means

The Kelvin scale measures the temperature of light from warm to cool. One reference point could be vertical sunlight, which comes in at about 5780K. Anything 5000K or above will be considered pure white or cool, tending towards bluish in hue the higher up the scale you go.

When considering the artificial lighting within your home, remember this: colours thought to be warmer have a lower colour temperature and cooler light will have a higher number.

Q: What’s the best lighting colour temperature for relaxing spaces?

how to choose the right colour temperature for relaxing spaces

Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that warmer lighting inspires greater relaxation, while cooler lighting encourages concentration. Thus you would expect to see warmer artificial lighting (with a lower K temperature) in the living room, in dining areas where people gather for a good meal, in spa-like bathrooms and in bedrooms.

Go too far down the Kelvin scale and the lighting effect may look too orange, so unless you’re equipping a meditation room and a sunset effect is your goal, we recommend a bulb with a temperature of around 2000K to 2700K.

As you select your lighting, you should also consider how your chosen shade will impact the temperature of the light from the bulb – will it appear cooler or warmer after it travels through the material that surrounds it?

Case in point: our Porcelain Collection featuring elegant ceramic shades. The shades are kiln-fired to beautiful translucence and then hand-polished for a clean, pared-back look. Each light fixture comes with a 2100K Edison-style LED bulb, however the spread of light as it’s diffused through the porcelain of the shade means you get a warm, honeyed glow.

the laverick pendant light creates a warm relaxing atmosphere

Interior designers love our ceramic lights because they transition beautifully from natural daylight environments to relaxing evening settings flawlessly. Using a dimmer switch gives you even more control and dimmers are certainly recommended so that lighting can be adjusted from day to night.

Q: What’s the best lighting temperature for kitchens and, more specifically, kitchen islands?

Lighting is the star feature of kitchens these days – and for good reason. A trio of pendant lighting fixtures suspended over the kitchen island has become particularly popular because when done right it brings the wow factor and instantaneously elevates the space – plus it ticks the functionality box. What’s not to like?

Just ask Sally Storey, design director at John Cullen

‘No other interior element can literally change the mood of a space at the touch of a button’, she explained to ‘You can make a kitchen work almost 24/7 by the way you choose to light it. In daytime, it can be a hardworking, task-oriented space. Transferring to a softer, moodier scheme by early evening, and the perfect place to dine by late evening.’

Because kitchens are so multi-functional, many homeowners are getting switched on to colour-changing downlights, which with a flick will change from neutral to cool to warm in sequence. This is an excellent option for multi-use spaces, helping them handily transition from task-lighting work/study spaces to entertaining spaces as day turns to evening.

One of our most popular pendant lighting pieces for the kitchen is our Evo Organic Pendant Light. With a silvery, reflective surface when switched off, it reveals a warmly glowing spiral filament when switched on. Versatility is important when planning kitchen lighting… and this light has bags of it.

how to choose the best lighting for kitchen islands

Q: What’s the best lighting temperature for at-home office spaces?

Think of the ‘warm white’ incandescent bulbs of yesteryear, which would correlate to a Kelvin temperature of around 2700K to 3300K. (Like in our Noma Tala Pendant Light, seen here.)

what is the best lighting for offices

Today, most home office planners would recommend that your lighting temperature go one step cooler in order to boost focus and improve productivity; a temperature of between 3300K and 5000K is recommended.

Within that range, individual ways of working, personal taste and expectations all come into play, so it’s important to consider how the lighting temperature will complement the home office style and the palette of colours in your chosen décor.

Design is trending towards a natural look and feel, with real wood surfaces and houseplants bringing a more biophilic and serene aesthetic to home offices. Going too cool in this setting may end up making your home office look more botany lab than biophilic workspace, so consider adding some warmer or ‘warm white’ light elements. If you’re unsure, we recommend testing out a few different bulbs or working with a lighting designer to ensure your scheme is ideal for your space and your work habits.

Questions? To speak with us about lighting for your home or commercial project, call +44 (0)330 223 3940. Or email

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SBID and The Light Yard