Choosing a CCT establishes the overall look and mood of the space, setting the scene. CCT can also change the perception of brightness in a space and even the size of the space. For example, illuminating with warm color temperatures (1800K-2900K) can make a space appear cozier and produce a feeling of calm. It may also appear to be less illuminated than spaces illuminated with the same lumens but in a higher CCT. On the other hand, illuminating the same space with cooler color temperatures (3000-5000K) can create a perception that a space is larger, energetic and supports productivity, but it could also feel less personal.
It’s also crucial to know the color palette of the surfaces you are lighting, including the estimated reflectance values (Light to Dark) of walls, ceilings and floors. As an example, surfaces which are dark in value like walnut or deep paint hues may require higher intensities of light, if surfaces are lighter in value, then dimmers might be an option to explore. Either way, you want to make sure you integrate sources that dim down to 1% or lower.
Once you know colors and values, the next thing to determine is how the color of light source will render those surfaces. Warm, earthy tones will be enhanced when illuminated with warm CCT’s and conversely greens, blues, and cool grays will pop when illuminated with higher, cooler CCT’s.
This example shows a successful use of 2700K. If the designers had chosen a cooler color temperature when lighting the fireplace surround, they would have lost the richness of the stone, and the brilliant orange behind the artwork would have been ‘muddied’. We recommend asking to see samples with different CCT’s if you are not sure what effect you want.