Warm Lighting vs. Cool Lighting: What's the Difference?

Article by BlissLights LLCMon, Jul 25, 22
Warm Lighting vs. Cool Lighting: What's the Difference?

Once upon a time, brightening things up around your home just meant taking a trip to the store and buying some bulbs. Almost all your options would cast the same glow, and energy-efficient bulbs were limited. Now, you can find all kinds of different features, sustainability measures, colors, and styles. That can make finding the right bulbs and fixtures exciting but challenging. Deciding between warm lighting vs. cool lighting can be a great starting point.

What is the difference between warm lighting vs. cool lighting?

Warm lighting and cool lighting are measures of color temperature, which is measured in kelvins (K) on a 1000K to 10000K scale. Higher values represent cooler temperatures. Here’s what qualifies as warm lighting vs. cool lighting.

Warm lighting

  • Color temperature: Warm lighting has a color temperature of 2700K to 4000K.
  • Color: Red or soft yellow
  • Effect on health and wellbeing: Warm lighting can promote relaxation. That’s why it’s often associated with lighting for use right before sleep.

Cool lighting

  • Color temperature: Cool lighting has a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K.
  • Color: White or blue light
  • Effect on health and wellbeing: Cool white lighting is known to be bright and energizing. It can increase your productivity and concentration, so you’ll likely find it in offices.
color temperature scale

What is the best color temperature for home lighting?

When choosing between warm lighting vs. cool lighting, you should think about your desired aesthetic and purpose. For a calm and relaxing environment, a warm color temperature would do the job. To create a highly motivating home office, cool light bulbs would work better.

You’ll probably want both color temperatures in different spaces throughout your home. You can even use both warm and cool in the same room if you use separate areas for different activities. Or you can set up special fixtures that seamlessly transition among colors to transform your color temperature with just a tap on your phone screen.

How to decide the best color temperature by room

The ways in which you use each room in your home will determine whether warm white or cool white lighting should be your foundation. Since cool lighting works best for tasks and mimicking outside daylight, it’s better for your kitchen, home office, craft room, and makeup area. Warm white light is more often associated with relaxation. That makes your living room, bedroom, dining room, and den perfect places to infuse with a cozy, warm glow.

Top color temperature recommendations for your home

The right color temperature for each room strikes a balance between ambiance and functionality. Below are some general recommendations for which color temperatures work best for which rooms.

1. Bedroom: low and warm

Your bedroom should be your personal sanctuary – a comfortable space with a soothing atmosphere. Using a lower, warmer color temperature can help your body and mind decompress after a long, exhausting day. Warmer light tones are also associated with the dim sort of lighting you might use right before you gently drift off to sleep.

bedroom with warm lighting

3. Dining room: finding balance

A dining room is for much more than just eating. It’s a space for making memories over delicious food and hosting friends and family for special occasions. That’s why the ideal dining room lighting strikes a balance between warm lighting vs. cool lighting. You want lighting that’s relaxing and welcoming yet still bright and energizing enough to serve and eat food. You can layer your lighting to achieve this effect and make your dining room more versatile.

dining room and kitchen with mix of warm and cool lighting

4. Living room: invite the light

Your living room is presumably your space to relax, watch movies, hang out with friends, or spend time with family. That’s why warm light temperatures go hand in hand with living rooms – but they should only be the start. Try using warm ambient lighting with cool task lighting so you can go from reading to resting. Add fun hues such as pink, purple, and teal to take your living room beyond the everyday.

living room with warm and cool lighting

5. Kitchen: the brighter, the better

Baking cakes, chopping veggies, reading cookbooks, and measuring ingredients all require bright lighting. That’s why cool color temperatures are your best bet in the kitchen. Warm lighting can be tempting for a kitchen since it can create a calming dining space, but you can save that for your dining room. You can also add additional LEDs above your stove and below your countertops to glow up every corner of your little world.

bright kitchen

6. Office: cool and bright

If you work from a home office, cool lighting should be your go-to. Cool lighting is bright enough that you’ll avoid eye strain while working. It’s also known to increase productivity, meaning you’ll stay alert, focused, and concentrated on your work. Plus, cool white lights can be a game-changer if your Zoom lighting has recently been unclear.

woman in home office with bright cool lighting

7. Bathroom: warm or cool – it's up to you

Your bathroom will benefit from bright white LED lights if you apply makeup or style your hair there. LED bulbs with a cool color temperature come closest to actual outdoor daylight, so they’re your best bet for getting ready. Plus, they can make the room feel cleaner and provide full visibility for your morning routine. Cool white lights can also help energize you, so when you glam up in the morning, you’ll start the day refreshed and alert.

That said, you might also want warm color temperatures in your bathroom – the choice is yours. If you often take hot baths or long showers, warm lighting can amplify the tranquil atmosphere and transform your bathroom into an at-home spa. You could add warm, water-safe bulbs over your shower or bathtub to create a serene evening bubble bath with just the flick of a switch.

bathroom with cool lighting

Additional tips for choosing the best lighting temperature

Now that you’re familiar with the best types of color temperature for each room, here are some tips for planning your home lighting design.

8. Know your bulbs

Picking the right type of bulb goes hand-in-hand with choosing the right color temperature. Halogen, incandescent, LED, and fluorescent are among the most common bulb types you’ll see. Along with checking each one’s typical color temperature, you should see whether each is energy-efficient. Look into their general aesthetic and brightness levels so you can create a comfortable environment on your own terms.

different types of lightbulbs

9. Use a variety of lighting

Including more than one type of lighting in your home design can add dimension and extra pizazz to your space. If you’re going for a warm and tranquil vibe, try incorporating unique fixtures such as the BlissRadia ambient mood light. The BlissRadia’s vibrant moving gradients across the rainbow can create an inspiring atmosphere, help you unwind, or both. With just a few taps on the BlissHome app, you’ll see your room in exactly the right light.

blissradia smart mood light in warm yellow
blissradia is an led ambient light with app control that shines in multiple colors

BlissRadia Smart LED Mood Light

$49.99

From desktop to bedside, light the way to concentration, stimulation, or relaxation.

10. Consider the room’s function

You can use all the above advice to choose color temperatures by room, but what if you have other rooms? Color temperature is also a factor in designing your home gym, walk-in closet, recording studio, or any other room. Anywhere you’re doing tasks or need clear and bright visibility, cool lighting is the way to go. For rest and hanging out, warm temperatures will set just the right soothing vibe.

11. Be strategic with your placement

Your lighting’s placement and position can be as important as the temperature. Be strategic with your placement to avoid overcrowding and dark shadows. Spread out your bulbs so there’s an even layer of light across the entire room. No matter where you stand or sit, you’ll be immersed in the ambiance, whether warm or bright, dim or cool.

12. Prioritize quality over quantity

Although brighter is sometimes better, try not to get carried away filling every corner of your room with light. In most cases, the brightness and sharpness of just a few bulbs will be plenty for your space. Too many fixtures can feel overwhelming, take up space, waste electricity, and skew your color temperature. When bringing your dream home to life, less can be more.

13. Focus the light on what's important

Task lighting is about more than using cool color temperatures to get work done. You’ll also need to direct the light toward what you’re doing so you get that full brightness. For example, when adding a reading lamp into your living room, place it close to where you’ll be sitting. If you also plan to use the lamp for board games on the coffee table, make sure it shines on both areas.

cool task lighting

14. Use accent lighting

Take your lighting design to the next level with accent lighting that adds extra depth and personality impossible with solely ambient lights. Specialty fixtures can make especially great accents – for example, the Sky Lite Evolve can set the mood with dazzling stars and drifting clouds. It’s the rare galaxy projector that rotates 360 degrees so you can add accents to each and every corner. Plus, you can create your own custom galaxies and use voice control to set the colors and effects – all without opening your eyes and interrupting your relaxation.

sky lite evolve in peach

sky lite evolve smart multicolor galaxy projector

Sky Lite Evolve: Smart Galaxy Projector

$59.99

The latest evolution in smart galaxy lighting.

Set the right color temperature with BlissLights

Choosing the right lighting for your home ultimately comes down to what you want to accomplish. Warm lighting is great for relaxation, and cool lighting is ideal for alertness, getting ready, and working. For either color temperature, BlissLights can take your lighting design above and beyond. BlissLights can shine calming colors and swirling nebula clouds across the rainbow alongside sparkling stars that can set the mood for any occasion. Browse the BlissLights collection now for warmth and coolness right at your fingertips.

About BlissLights

BlissLights has been a leader in the laser lighting industry since the company was founded in 2006. Our team of experienced engineers and technicians helped create award-winning special effect lighting for major theme parks before minaturizing ourpatented technology for home use. BlissLights is dedicated to laser safety and education, and is registered with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

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