Light Color Temperature: Options for Lighting Your Home

It’s time for an upgrade of your living room, which means new paint, decor, and lighting! When it comes to lighting, some would pick out a few fancy light fixtures, maybe add in some recessed lights, or maybe throw in a few antique-looking lamps and a chandelier. Many would be flabbergasted to think that another option to spruce up your living room is choosing a particular color for your lighting. I don’t mean creating a purple or green glow throughout the room, but if your into that sort of thing, go for it! With the phasing out of inefficient incandescent light bulbs that only came in one relative color (yellow) for years, the efficient, LED and CFL light bulbs have arrived, and give you the option of choosing a different light color temperature for any room in the house. Let’s explore the different light color temperatures I’m referring to.


Light color temperature for a light source, like a light bulb, is measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. To the human eye, lower Kelvin numbers for a light source appear more yellow, whereas higher Kelvin numbers for a light source appear more white or blue. People associate the scale of light color temperature with particular moods, which can correspond with different light color temperature options in the many rooms of your home. It’s all about your preference of the look and feel of the room as to which light color to go with. Let’s take a closer look at the different light color temperatures, the moods that the human eye associates with each one, and how light color temperature can apply to different areas of the home and elsewhere.


A light color that is between 2700K and 3000K is called “Warm White” or “Soft White”. This light color temperature is known to be “warm” because it appears as a yellow hue, which is on the spectrum of a warm color. Warmer light colors are on the lower end of the Kelvin scale. A light color temperature that is between 3500K and 4100K is called “Cool White”, “Neutral”, or “Bright White”, and has a cool white light color appearance. Lastly, a light color temperature between 5000K and 6500K is called “Natural” or “Daylight”, and has a blueish-white light color appearance.


Warm White

Warm white light color temperature produces a calm, cozy, and relaxing atmosphere. While any room in the house can have this light color (as mentioned before, it’s all about your preference), it is ideal for dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms. Warmer color lighting gives off a relaxing ambiance, and is most commonly associated with your standard incandescent light bulb. This type of light color temperature is great with warm, earthy-color tones in a room like reds, oranges, and yellows.


Cool White

Cool white, neutral, or bright white lighting produces an inviting, friendly atmosphere, and can be a good option for kitchens, workspaces, garages, or basements that require tasking and reading. This light color temperature is also a good option for rooms with a color scheme that involves more blues and whites.



Daylight or natural lighting produces a clean, bright, and lively feel, and is mostly used for commercial and industrial office buildings, as well as retail stores and schools. This light color temperature emits an “alertness” feel which is good for reading and tasking, as studies have shown better working habits, and improved academic performance in schools with daylight light color. Although not very popular in the home, the daylight color temperature can be used in bathrooms, basements, and home offices. Again, it’s all about your preference. Daylight mimics the brightness of daylight (the whitest, natural light that occurs when the sun is overhead at noon), and some people don’t like that real bright, harsh look for a room.


Lighting Facts Label

Figuring out which light color temperature to choose for your living room may take more time than you think, if you are like my wife and I who are on opposing ends of the spectrum (I like the warmer colors, she likes the cooler colors). But buying the right light bulb is easy-peasy. Just look on the back of the light bulb package to find the lighting facts label. You’ll see the “Light Appearance” section, and be able to tell what light color temperature the bulb will emit.