It can be difficult to determine how a paint colour will look on your walls from a swatch. You might find that the colour you choose from a swatch may look nothing like the swatch when it is hit by the lighting in your home.

To avoid painting your entire space before noticing this issue, it is important to know some tips and tricks on how lighting can affect paint colours in your space.

To put it simply, colour is what we perceive when light is reflected off a surface or object. A black object means that all the light was absorbed, while white means the light was equally reflected. Other colours you perceive are just combinations of red, green and blue lights being processed in our brains.

Here are our tips and tricks for ensuring your paint looks great, no matter the lighting.

Natural Lighting

Most professionals recommend you trial your colour swatches under natural lighting.

If your space experiences sun all day, it is best to take advantage of the natural lighting by using pale, golden colours that will emphasise the summery atmosphere. However, if you want a bold, rich colour palette, natural lighting is their best friend.

If your space is sunny in the morning, the light starts off warm and cools throughout the day. So it is important to stick to fresh, mild colours that will pop in the warmth, and feel fresh in the cool afternoon light.

Alternatively, if your space is sunny in the afternoon, it is best to avoid vibrant colours as intense shadows will make them dull. It is best to use pale, subdued shades that will warm up in the afternoon light.

Non-Natural Lighting

Many assume that you should use warm paint colours when there is no natural light, yet it is important to understand the way different artificial lights impact colours.

Incandescent lighting causes a yellow glow that is good for bright colours, but mutes cools colours.

Fluorescent lighting has a cool lighting, which can dull bright colours.

Halogens generate bright white light and are very similar to natural lighting.

LED lights allow control as you can choose how warm or cool the lighting the bulb will emit, and therefore you have better control over the colour of your space.


It is important to keep in mind the décor you plan to use in your space when choosing colours. Different light can cause surrounding colours to reflect bold tones onto light walls and may even mute brighter tones.

Paint Type

The type of paint you choose can also affect the lights reflection in the space. To achieve the exact colour as on the swatch, it is best to stick to matte paint. However, gloss paint can really enhance bold colours.


Lastly, before you decide to paint your walls completely, paint a large swatch of your favourite colours onto pieces of paper, and tape them directly onto your walls to see how the colour will change throughout the day.

Feel free to call VP Painting on 03 8596 7136 for professional advice.