Deciding on the style of lamps for your living room is one thing; planning the color temperature is a whole other thing. How do you decide between daylight or soft white lighting in your living room?

Daylight bulbs are white, almost bluish lights that illuminate clearly. If you work in your living room, you might like the boost of productivity that daylight lights give. However, soft white lights are more inviting and relaxing. Most people will prefer soft white lights in the living room.

If you’re unsure of the difference between soft white lights and daylight, explore the rest of the article, which will discuss light temperature and how to select the right type of lightbulb for the right room.

What Is Light Temperature?

Light temperature is measured in Kelvin, which is a unit of physical temperature. The higher the light temperature, the cooler the color of the light, and the lower the temperature, the warmer the color of light, which seems to go against physical temperature rules.

To better understand light temperature, we can return to our early school years studying astronomy. You may have learned that stars have different colors because they are different temperatures. The largest, hottest stars appear blue, and the cooler, smaller stars are red.

Star TemperatureStar Color

As you can see, as the star’s physical temperature gets higher, the color cools down. We can apply these same rules to light temperature, as well.

Daylight Temperature

The standard daylight temperature is around 5000K. This is a bright white color with a hint of bluish tone. You might not notice the blue tone unless you were to see the light next to a warmer temperature light; that is when it is easiest to notice the different hues of lightbulbs.

Lightbulbs of 5000K, like the Sylvania 5000K 60 Watt Bulbs, are often referred to as “bright white” or “daylight” bulbs. They are commonly used in garages, closets, workrooms, and storage areas, and they provide consistent light that will show the true colors of an object. Painters and artists often prefer white light as it allows them to create a painting with accurate colors.

Bulbs with a higher color temperature and appear white or blueish are scientifically proven to improve productivity and focus. This is likely because daylight inhibits melatonin production, the hormone produced in low-light that makes us fall asleep.

Soft White Temperature

Soft white temperature is considered to be between 2700K-3000K. These lights appear off-white with a yellow or orange hue. Soft white temperature lights are closer to the light of a fire, which is why they are so relaxing. Candlelight is even lower, measuring in at around 1700K, which is extremely intimate and calming but too low for the room’s main light source.

Other sources with a light temperature of 2700K included the early sunrise, an orange sunset, and a campfire. Using this lighting in your home, you can replicate the cozy feelings that naturally occur during these times of the day.

Best Lightbulbs for Living Rooms

The best light for your living room will depend on the activities you perform in the space. For the average person who wants to relax with a glass of wine and a good book or movie at the end of a long day, warm or soft white lighting is the way to go.

Choose lightbulbs that are 3000K or less, and enjoy the benefits of the inviting lighting every evening. These lights are also great if you find it particularly hard to settle in or calm down. If you are a go-go-go type of person, daylight lightbulbs will only enhance this drive and won’t assist you with unwinding in the evening.

If you are someone who has a partial home office or does any sort of challenging work or studying in your living room, you should choose a lightbulb with a rating of 4000K-5000K. This won’t be conducive to relaxing at the end of the day, but it will promote wakefulness and increased focus. This lighting is also the best if you need to see colors in an accurate atmosphere.

While colors and lighting appear slightly different to everyone, having true daylight bulbs will give you the best chance of seeing the “real” colors.

You can also combine the two different lighting types if you’d like to work in your living space during the day but relax at night. Install overhead lighting that measures 4000K to use during the day, when daylight is also streaming through the windows, and use standing and table lamps in the evening with 2700K light bulbs. In this way, you can choose the temperature of light that you prefer at specific times of the day.

Many LEDs are also alterable. The Treatlife SmartBulb, for instance, is a tunable light bulb that can be altered with the touch of a button on your smartphone. Use the SmartBulb app, Alexa, or Google Assistant to change the light temperature anywhere from 2500K up to 6500K. You can brighten and dim the lightbulbs as well, giving you full control of the lighting in your living room according to your mood.

You can program other lights to turn on and off at certain points in the day, so if you know that you’re finishing your work in the afternoon, you can set the bright white lights to lower or turn off at 4:30 pm every day, and the soft white lights to turn on at 5:00 pm.


The best lighting for relaxing spaces in the home, like the living room, bedrooms, and dens, are soft white lights around 2700K. For offices, garages, and workrooms, white lights at 4000K are more suitable.

If you find that light affects your focus and mood, then using different light sources or buying tunable lightbulbs will increase productivity when needed and help you wind down in the evenings. Ultimately, the ambiance you want in your living room will determine the light temperature you need.

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