What’s the Difference Between Warm Light Bulbs and Cool Light Bulbs?

I wanted to start this with “I never cared about light bulbs until I bought a house” but that’s not entirely true. Back in the day, I ran a soap and skincare biz out of a teeny tiny studio in Brooklyn, NY. Next door to my studio worked the sweetest and most talented architects, who were always willing to let me invade their space and help me brainstorm booth ideas for trade shows. It was from them that I learned to never, ever, ever wing it when it comes to lighting.

You see, I never really paid attention to stuff like light bulbs. When Alessandro (co-owner and architect) asked me if I planned to use cool or warm lighting for my booths, I panicked. Wait, was there a difference? I stammered “cool, I think” and saw his face turn into horror and sympathy, in like an “oh honey, no” kinda way. “No. Never use cool bulbs in a booth.” It was from there my crash course to lighting a space began.

But I didn’t learn when it came to our home. Like I mentioned in my post about my ghoul lighting, I went rogue and accidentally installed cool bulbs in our closet and never fixed it until Soraa told me to stop being a lighting n00b and fix my freaking closet lights.  

I’m not going to get into the whole color spectrum of lighting (unless you want me to) because…well…if I were looking into lighting then I want the basic info that’s going to solve my problem and that’s what I feel you’re like, too, if you read this blog. So here’s my crash course for you when it comes to light bulbs:


When to Use Warm Light Bulbs

  • When you have a vintage style
  • When your room is used during the evenings
  • When your room is a “living” space (bedrooms, living rooms)
  • When you want a natural-looking lighting scheme


When to Use Cool Light Bulbs

  • When you need to get work done during the day (like in offices)
  • When you need more “detail” lighting, like in basements or workshops with little sunlight
  • If your home has a minimalist/modern style

I personally lean towards warm lighting, especially LED lights that are made to resemble Edison-style bulbs, (side note: we originally used incandescent Edison bulbs and HOLY HELL they made the room at least 5 degrees warmer) but it’s really a personal decision. Whichever you decide to use, make sure you pick lights that will adequately light your space and give you the results you’re looking for. The best part about lights, however, is that they can always be switched out, upgraded, or replaced with smart color-changing bulbs (these are what I have) that can give you the best of both worlds.


Megan is a 5x award-winning entrepreneur, small business nerd, and industrial decor lover. Megan's products and writing have been featured in dozens of publications, including the Huffington Post and the New York Times. Hair color subject to change, black clothing...probably not.

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