Why Are Light Bulbs So Confusing??

Unfortunately I don’t know why buying a light bulb is so confusing but it is. I remember the olden days when you just had to decide between a 40, 60 or 100 watt in a clear or frosted glass. Now even wattage is a thing of the past. It’s all about Lumens.

Wattage measures energy. Lumens measures brightness. So less energy used with a lot of brightness is a good thing! For both the environment and your pocket book.

For most all spaces such as living rooms and bedrooms, I normally would have used a 100 watt bulb to provide adequate lighting for reading or for a larger space. In Lumens this would equate to about 1600 lumens but probably only 22 watts of energy are used – a good thing!

I’m not going to bore you with all the details that you can google for the technical information, what I do want to enlighten you (pun intended) with the color choice of your light bulbs.

Some manufactures have different names for the color of the light in the bulb but the most standard names you will see and the manufactures suggested uses:



SOFT WHITE (yellowish range):

Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them

WARM WHITE (between the yellowish and white ranges):

Best in kitchens, workspaces and bathrooms.

BRIGHT WHITE (between the white and blue ranges):

Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel

DAYLIGHT (blue range):

Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup – provides the greatest contrast among colors.


As a side note….the lower the Kelvin the more yellow the light bulb.







Here are my personal recommendations:

  1. Only use Daylight bulbs in garages, hobby rooms, workshops and storage areas. Or if you are performing surgery. 🙂 These bulbs are very blue and cold like florescent lighting. I would never want to use Daylight bulbs anywhere in the living areas of my home including the bathrooms.
  2. My main go to bulbs are the Warm White or the Bright White. These bulbs will give great white light without bringing in the blueish tint. These are great to create a bright white kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. They are also perfect for bedside tables for reading at night.
  3. Soft are great for living rooms and formal dining rooms but I want to throw out one caution. Depending on your shade or globe, these can take on a very yellow or gold tone. This may not be a good thing depending on the style of your home.


If I may suggest….get rid of the CFL (curly cue) light bulbs as soon as possible. In my humble opinion they were one of the worst inventions of our time. Yes they were more energy efficient than incandescent but they contain mercury, are dangerous if broken and need to be disposed of with care. If you have the kind of bulbs that take time to brighten……please remove them if you are selling your home. A buyer needs instant light when turning a light on in a room.

LED light bulbs are more efficient than CFLs and now are available in many lumens and color options. They are also now dimmable and even come in the popular Edison Style light bulb. The price of them has also coming down drastically.


So yes buying light bulbs is confusing, there is no getting around it. But hopefully this will clarify a few things and just one more tip:


If you are selling your home, please make sure ALL your light bulbs in a fixture have the same color. You do not want a bathroom vanity light with one blue, one yellow and one white light bulb.



Written By

Shar is an award winning Designer and Home Stager and the owner of 'Rooms With Style' and the 'Certified Staging and Redesign Acadamy.' She has been in the design industry for over 25 years and her background includes studies in Interior Design as well as Horticulture to assist with your home’s curb appeal. Shar has a talent for taking simple things; placing them in their best light and making them shine. Another Sharlene from North Dakota, Shar and Sharlene knew they were destined to work together when they first met! She has been blogging here and helping bring out the best in the homes of Sharlene's sellers since 2011.

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