Thursday, June 23, 2016

Trick more light into your room with paint

If you're a textile person, and especially if you do a lot of close work, you know how important it is NOT to do that in dim light.  Even during the day you sometimes need a little help, but I think this clip-on solution was something I used on movie night at the cottage last summer so I could spin without getting popcorn thrown at me.

note the faux wood paneling, aka 'dark walls' at the cottage...

My go-to solution to this problem has always been lamps.  But when we bought the condo, with its wide rooms and very limited overhead lighting, I knew the dreary mismatched paint colours that repelled other prospective buyers would have to give way to white, so we painted, first thing.  And BOY did it make a difference!  To the feeling in the condo, but also to Ray and Al, who went a little bit crazy painting a massive condo entirely in white paint.

Today though: today is the big lightbulb day (ha.)  Lynn, an endless resource for great design tips, sent me a link to Kylie M. Interiors' post on Light Reflectance Values (LRV.)

I will sum up the gist of this post in one sentence:

Dark paint colours absorb light and darken your room, and light paint colours reflect it, brightening it.

I mean obviously a dark room with lamps is a cosy room, and I love cosy, but if you can make natural light work harder you can save SO much energy, as well as your eyesight.

My condo example illustrates the obviousness of white paint = more light.  You don't even need to know the LRV of white paint really.  It's just going to kick more light around your room, period.  Ditto dark paints - if a truly white paint has an LRV of nearly 100, you know you're probably looking at something in the teens for black.  It's not rocket science.

But Kylie's explanation tipped me off to the most useful aspect of LRV. 

Paint manufacturers tell you the LRV number for each colour.  At Benjamin' Moore's site, it's on its own line just below the marketing blurb where you won't even notice it unless you're looking.

And that is huge, because sometimes you're choosing between two very similar colours for a bedroom and thinking Meh, this one kinda looks purple and this one is a little grey, I don't know.  And since they're both pretty dark really, you're not thinking about other key facts: that you're not a morning person, and your partner refused to let you seal off the window with cardboard and duct tape, and there is still some light creeping around the corners of your curtains.

Benjamin Moore's Jamestown Blue has an LRV of 34
Benjamin Moore Buxton Blue has an LRV of 45

Pick the Jamestown Blue!!

Or you look at a colour that is perfect and neutral and mid-toned and you think it will be bright enough for your windowless powder room, but its assigned LRV number is telling you No way honey, you will have to add another lamp if you want to pick that one.

Benjamin Moore's Sea Salt has an LRV of 61.91

ARG.  Does this mean I should have let Ray put a pot light into the powder room, to build on the triple sconce light, if we match our tile with Sea Salt instead of our cabinet with Cloud White?

But best of all - oh Man, this is exciting - if you know you want white paint to bring more light in through green tinted windows (I will never, ever get over that expensive mistake), and you're trying to split hairs between four warm white options that I swear are identical even on a giant paint board?






Yeah, that last one looks darker on my screen, but not in my samples.  Fear not though because you can look at their LRV numbers!

Here's the low down on these four Benjamin Moore whites, from most reflective to least:
Simply White: 90 (I picked right for the condo!)
Cotton Balls: 89
Cloud White: 85
White Dove: 83


I know I've said this before but once you pick your base paint (I like to throw money at Benjamin Moore's Aura line because that stuff is fantastic and wears so well) ALL the colours cost the same.  So why not pick a colour that's going to make your use of lamps more decorative than desperate?

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to admiring this possible desk lamp for our retro railroad station-themed front hall.


See you tomorrow!