December 8, 2023

How Lighting Effects Cabinet Colors

Have you ever noticed how your custom cabinetry looks different depending on the time of day or the type of lighting in your home? From the warm glow of natural sunlight to the cool, crisp illumination of artificial lights, the way that light interacts with cabinet colors can completely transform the look and feel of your space.

At C & C Cabinets, our local artisans designers understand just how crucial lighting is when it comes to showcasing the beauty of painted or stained cabinetry. Whether you're remodeling your kitchen, updating your bathroom, or creating a custom entertainment center, the impact of lighting on cabinet colors is something that cannot be overlooked.

Let's explore how!

qhite custom millwork in living room

The Influence of Light on Cabinet Colors

The simple truth is that the color of your cabinets is tied to the lighting conditions in your space. The same cabinet can radiate warm, rich tones under dim, yellow lighting and transform into a subdued, cooler version under bright, white LEDs.

Understanding this fundamental aspect of home design is key to cultivating an aesthetic you adore.  

Considering Sheen

If you've ever selected paint for your home, you're likely familiar with the concept of "sheen". In essence, sheen refers to the relative "glossiness" or "shininess" of a finish.  

  • The "satin" sheen level is what most people opt for when it comes to home cabinetry. It offers a degree of gloss that many find visually appealing.
  • The "matte" sheen level, slightly softer and flatter than satin, is often found on finely made furniture.

Both sheen levels have their unique attributes. While satin sheen is somewhat more reflective, adding a layer of depth to the color, matte sheen provides a subtle and sophisticated finish.

Understanding Color Undertones

Every cabinet color carries a particular undertone - a subtle shade residing beneath the primary color. Fairly unnoticeable under standard lighting, these undertones become increasingly evident and can drastically change your cabinet color when exposed to specific lighting conditions.

For example, white cabinets may evoke cool blues under certain light or warm yellows under another. Deeper hues, such as a rich blue, might take on different color shades under specific lighting, leaning towards a purplish tone.  

Your cabinets could even act as reflective surfaces, mirroring the colors of surrounding objects and altering their own perceived color.

Natural vs. Artificial Light

Natural sunlight delivers a full and fair presentation of color, highlighting the original intention of your chosen cabinet color. However, the quality and tone of light change throughout the day, causing your cabinets' color to shift accordingly.  

Artificial light, on the other hand, provides consistent luminosity. Yet each type of artificial light - incandescent, halogen, or LED - gives your cabinets different perceived hues.

  • Incandescent light can add warm, yellowish notes, haloing your cabinetry with a comforting glow.
  • LEDs come in various color temperatures, impersonating the full spectrum of sunlight at different times of day, thus affecting your cabinet color accordingly.  

Directed Lighting

Besides overall lighting, directed or task lighting plays a pivotal role in emphasizing particular areas of your home. Consider under-cabinet lighting, which gives your workspace ample illumination while doubling as accent lighting.

Use these strategically to spotlight your cabinets, enhancing their colors and drawing attention to stunning detailing.

black shelving with light

Choosing the Right Light for Your Cabinets

With this understanding, how can you choose the right lighting to maximize your cabinet's color potential? Follow this advice from our expert designers:  

Consider Natural Light

Analyze the amount of natural light your space receives. Rooms with abundant sunlight can handle darker cabinet colors without feeling gloomy, while rooms that don’t get as much natural light might benefit more from lighter cabinet colors to brighten the area.

Choose Your Artificial Light Wisely

Your choice of artificial light can help improve the look of your cabinets. Warm lights bring out reddish and brown tones, while cool lights emphasize blues and greens.

Experiment with Various Lighting

Try different light settings and observe how your cabinet colors shift in various conditions. This can help you decide what lighting mood best suits your redesigned space.

white built in cabinets in kitchen

Set the Perfect Mood

Coordination between cabinet color and lighting allows you to set the mood for your space, transforming it from mundane to magical. Remember, a carefully selected blend of tonal undertones, balanced with calculated light exposure, crafts a harmonious and warm home atmosphere.  

Not sure where to start? We're excited to help you discover the perfect match to beautify your Tampa area abode! Contact our head designer, Miriam Johnson, for a design consultation today.  

“The work of C&C cabinets is incredible. They can make any cabinet dreams a reality. Highly recommend!”    - Seleena N.
C & C Cabinets Butterfly Transform Your Home

The Finest Finishes

Beauty can’t last only as long as the reveal. We pride ourselves in selecting the right finish & proper application, resulting in a durable finish that remains beautifully functional for years to come.

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