I’m having a light bulb moment!

Choosing light fittings and colour temperature

We were in the middle of home renovations and needed to start choosing light fittings. Soon after attending a home exhibition show we learnt that there’s so much more to lighting than just the wattage! This post shares what we learnt about lighting and a few other things to consider.

What is colour temperature?

The first thing to understand about lighting is the colour temperature. Most lamps emit a “white” light that varies from a cosy “warm white” to a cold or rather “cool white”. This range is measured in degrees kelvin and is denoted by a numerical figure followed by the letter “k”. The scale is as follows:

2700k – Extra Warm White/Warm White

This is similar light to “normal” incandescent bulbs, giving a warm, cosy feel.

3000k – Warm White

This the colour of most halogen lamps. It appears slightly “whiter” than ordinary incandescent lamps.

3500k – White

This is the standard colour for many fluorescent and compact fluorescent tubes.

4000k – Cool White

This gives a more clinical or high-tech feel.

6000k – Daylight

Fluorescent or compact fluorescent lamps simulating natural daylight.

6500k – Cool Daylight

Extremely ‘white’ light used in specialist daylight lamps.

Understanding the difference in colour temperature can guide you in the atmosphere you’re trying to create in your home. Once you’ve decided on the colour temperature there are other things to take into consideration when choosing light bulbs and lighting:

  • Purpose of the lighting – is it functional, decorative or mood enhancing? Is it the main light source of a room or is it secondary?
  • Type of lighting – downlighters, pendants, spotlights, lamps
  • Type of light bulbs used in lighting – halogen, fluorescent, LED
  • Wattage – are the light bulbs energy saving and how long will it last?
  • The width of the angle that the light bulb reaches – the narrower the angle, the less coverage there’ll be
  • Downlighters – are the units sealed or not? For example, bathroom downlights are sealed so if a fault occurs then the entire unit will need to be replaced.

We chose predominantly daylight lighting for the kitchen and warm lighting for the rest of our house. We weren’t 100% sure of our decision until one day we saw a recently renovated house that had predominantly cool lighting installed and in our opinion this emitted a more clinical feel. This obviously convinced us that we had made the right decision in the type of atmosphere we were trying to create.

I’d love to hear your experience with choosing lighting for your home. Did you find all the lighting info overwhelming too? Please feel free to share in the comments.



  1. 9th June 2016 / 7:59 AM

    I’ve also recently started finding out a bit more about lighting. It’s a fascinating adventure. I want to replace most of the fittings in my flat now, only I rent so it would be an expensive and somewhat fruitless exercise.

    • 9th June 2016 / 1:03 PM

      Hi Sam, thanks for commenting and reading 🙂 Lol, yes I didn’t realize how much there was to think about lighting :). I guess an option would be to try lamps of different heights such as floor lamps and table lamps and maybe change the shades on ceiling lights?

  2. 30th June 2016 / 8:53 AM

    Can’t stand cool white as more often than not it hurts my eyes from just spending too much time in a room lit with it! We tend to always go for warm white as our primary choice. Wasn’t even aware of the daylight type – thanks for the info!

  3. 3rd July 2016 / 2:49 PM

    This is much needed info, I need to change the lighting in my flat. All the lighting in my flat is rather dim 🙂

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