When Shades Play Tricks: The Surprising Truth About Colors

Last updated on October 9th, 2023

Colors have a habit of playing tricks on you. What looks gorgeous in the store window loses its sheen and doesn’t quite go with your complexion when you reach home. Well, that’s what return policies are for. Sadly, things are not that easy when it comes to home decor.

What looked great on the home decor website could be a disaster in your home. Tastes differ too, and what seems gorgeous to you can seem drab to your partner. The term metamerism may explain a lot of things. Say again? Let’s find out what it means and how to tackle this problem.

What Is Metamerism?

While it sounds complicated, the meaning of metamerism is quite simple. Colors may look a certain way, but appear different when the conditions are different. Also, two colors that have different compositions may seem very alike when conditions such as angle, light, or size change. Most of us have experienced this. A perfect match seems jaded once you get home as the light and the conditions have changed.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

Like most things in life, color too is seen differently by different people. This may seem like personal likes or dislikes. However, it is a bit more complicated. The human eye has cone cells in the retina that have different sensitivities to spectral composition. So, it all depends on how stimulated the cells in a person’s eyes are by a certain color. That is why two people will have vastly different perceptions about the same shade.

The Play of Light

Think of yourself for a moment. Your makeup looks different inside your home and when you step out, or when you are in a restaurant enjoying a meal. The face is the same and so is the makeup. When light hits an object some of the color is absorbed by it. The rest is reflected in the human eye. Now think of your living room. The paint on the wall looks different in sunlight and seems to change as the day progresses. This may seem like a science lesson, but it will give you a better idea about light and its properties.

So, how do you tackle it? Check the objects under natural light in your home for a fair idea of the shade. When shopping, take the cushions, curtains, etc. into the natural light to see the actual color. The colors that you need to be extra careful about are mauve, lilac, taupe, grey, and light blues.

Digital Disasters

The color of the sofa or the rug that you see online is dramatically different from what arrives at your doorstep. We have all been there with our T-shirts and kurtas. Sure, there is a return policy in place. But, apart from the hassle of sending it back, you can’t be sure that the next lot is going to be any different.

We can go into the technical jargon of what you see versus what the computer sees. And you can try to work out the logistics of the play of light in the digital world. The simple solution would be to go to the furniture store and see the actual product.

But It Was Perfect on the Swatch!

Your red shade may seem gorgeous on the shade card. But when it is splashed out on your gigantic wall, you may be left hyperventilating! This is because when you look at the shade card, your eyes also take in the white background and the shades nearby. The color on your wall is unadulterated and pure. A patch test on your wall can help you overcome this problem to a certain extent.

Our Thoughts

Rather than stress over the science of light and color, be accepting of the way your colors turn out. Most shades have something going for them and while they may not be what you imagined, you can use this to your advantage and spruce up your look with accessories and lighting. Yes, light can be the enemy, but it can be your friend too. For more tips on colors and lighting, log in to homebliss.in.