Hot or Cold: Your Lighting Temperature Guide

Lighting has a huge part to play in the curation of our interior spaces but did you know it goes deeper than the aesthetics of the right fitting or shade. Granted that has a big role in making or breaking your interior however, have you considered your Kelvin colour temperature…



What is Kelvin in Lighting?

Kelvin is used in lighting to measure the colour temperature of a light bulb. The more technical definition is “the SI base unit of thermodynamic temperature, equal in magnitude to the degree Celsius.” Scientific jargon aside, it basically means the higher the Kelvin rating (expressed in K), the whiter the light will be.

Light bulb colour temperature is represented in the unit of absolute temperature, Kelvin, noted by the symbol K. Household fixtures are commonly found in colour temperatures on the Kelvin scale of 2700K (warm incandescent), 3000K (warm white halogen) and 3500K (household fluorescent). Anything greater than 3500K is used for commercial spaces such as Hospital & retail, as the light is generally a blue toned white and would be too harsh in a household setting. That being said, when you are looking at your task lighting, for example, in your Kitchen- 4000K- 4500K can be very useful.


How much of an effect does colour temperature have in my interior?

It goes without saying that lighting in general can impact our environments, so layering task, ambient and mood lighting in an interior is so very important at the outset. But people can often overlook colour temperature. For example, a living room that has a cool white light can feel stark & cold, and this is a place you want to relax and feel comfortable in. Understanding colour temperatures helps to create the right ambiance and tone for your interior space, ensuring you’re able to carry out specific tasks and activities with ease.



Aside from the type of the light bulb itself, using Kelvin temperature can also help guide you in determining which fixture is right for each room. Whether you need an ambient source of light or highly focused task lighting, consider the following Kelvin ranges:

  • Less than 2000K: gives off a dim glow of light, similar to what you might find from candlelight; best for low-light areas where ambient illumination is welcomed.
  • 2000K-3000K: gives off a soft white glow, often yellow in appearance; best for living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and outdoor spaces.
  • 3100K-4500K: gives off a bright amount of white light; best for kitchens, offices, work spaces and vanities where task lighting is needed.
  • 4600K-6500K: gives off a bright amount of blue-white light, similar to that of daylight; best for display areas and work environments where very bright illumination is needed.
  • 6500K and up: gives off a bright bluish hue of light, often found in commercial locations; best for task lighting.


Where do I start if I am building or renovating?

A lighting plan is key when you are starting from scratch or renovating a space. This will help you to identify the areas that need key lighting and where you can incorporate your lighting layers. Consider how you want to feel in each of your rooms and then when out shopping for fixtures, make sure to check the Kelvin levels as for example, some LED lamps can be very bright and something as simple as the wrong light temperature can throw your entire scheme. If you are still unsure what your lighting needs are or would like some advice on illuminating your home to its full potential, get in touch.