Mix & Match Lighting


I live by the rules.  But am I wrong?

One of those rules is to never mix warm white bulbs (yellowish) with cool white bulbs (bluish).  I learned this rule back in the fluorescent day by looking at ceilings where some bulbs were pink and some were blue and the end result is that the space looked like a faded circus tent instead of an office or school.

I stick by the rule at home, too.  I use 2700°K Warm White LED bulbs in my house, I look for 2700°K Warm White LED tape light for under my cabinets and in my coves.

Then I see someone else’s work and I wonder if my rule is, well, like one of those rules you challenge in school and no one seems to have a really satisfying justification.  You end up hearing something like “because we’ve always done it that way” or “that’s just the way it is.”  Hmph.

I took the photo above on my way to morning meeting at the La Cantera resort in the hills by San Antonio, Texas.  I thought I might use it as an example of layered lighting design because it features wall sconces, chandeliers, cove lighting, recessed downlights, and some illuminated niches to walk towards at the end of the hall.  Nicely done.

Then I noticed that the chandelier bulbs had been changed out to ugly LEDs with a different color temperature than the coves, which totally breaks my rule, and I got out my ticket book and started writing them up for a lighting violation.


I mean, seriously, 3000°K chandelier bulbs with what looks like 2200°K cove lighting?  Who in their right mind would approve this “upgrade?”  I shook my head in disgust, ready to shame the maintenance team that suggested this energy-saving alternative to good lighting.  They might as well have put in 6000°K daylight blue bulbs.  Ugh!!

(Please note the self-righteous look of indignation on my face.)

Here’s the problem with my reaction to broken rules.  My first impression was that the space was nice-looking.  Then I set that aside and put on my lighting police hat and decided it was not nice-looking.  Then I sat with it for awhile and decided it WAS a good looking space.  Take another look:


Warm white cove light.  Neutral white chandelier and sconce bulbs.  Warm white niches. And extremely cool white light coming in through the windows.  Mixed color temperatures…a rule broken…and I like the result.

I live by the rules, but I change them a lot.


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