Interior white walls look gold when outside light hits them

mazer415November 16, 2012

I have a friend who had a painter come in to redo their walls. He did a wonderful job. The interior wall looks white, even close up, but when the outside light hits the wall, gold tones come out - almost like a straw color, does anyone know how this is done. Painter has moved on and we can not contact him. Thanks

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Lori A. Sawaya

That's the color of the incandescent light illuminating the wall. It's not the paint per se. Change the bulb to a different color lamp (light bulb) and a different color will show on the white wall.

It's just how color/light work.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 11:48PM
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There is nothing but natural sunlight hitting the wall, no ambient direct or indirect indoor lighting even comes close to lighting the wall. Which looks white when the sun is overhead, the windows are not tinted and the gold comes out on the one wall which was repainted from plain white. but thanks

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Doesn't matter if it's natural or artificial. Concept is still the same. There is a unique bundle of wavelengths of natural light beaming in from windows and doors as well as light bouncing around the room from fixtures, the artificial light. Those sources of light, natural and/or artificial, define the amount and quality or color of light in interior rooms.

Paint colors have a unique and varied bundle of wavelengths too but instead of beaming wavelengths, they are reflected wavelengths. It's the reflected wavelengths that we process with our vision system to create the sensation, the experience of color.

The gold tones come from the color quality of natural light hitting the paint color. The combination of beaming and reflected wavelengths create the golden tones.

A different paint color with different color characteristics would interact with the room's inherent quality of light differently. One 'white' paint color might look golden, another 'white' paint color might look bluish, etc.

Testing paint colors and viewing the sample swatches over the course of a few days in the space is the best way to get a feel for what the interaction of paint color and light is going to look like.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 9:05PM
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