When you are shopping for hardwood flooring, you need to avail yourself of the hardwood flooring samples. In many places, the sample will even be free. Typically, the sample is a piece of a hardwood plank; it could even be an entire hardwood plank. You should take the plank home with you and recreate all of the common conditions in your home. That means opening the blinds, turning on the lights, smudging it with a thumbprint, and so on. Here is why.
Light temperature, also called color temperature, is a scientific term that involves measuring the color of light emitting from a theoretical radiator of heat. Essentially, it means the color of different kinds of light. For example, a typical incandescent light bulb is a warm orange color that is about 2700K. A bulb designed to mimic daylight is usually 5600K. However, the color temperature of daylight actually changes depending on the time of day, the cloud cover, and the amount of pollution in the air. So, sunrise and sunset are usually warm colors near 2700K. High noon is closer to about 5600K but it can even be as much as 7000K. The higher the number, the cooler the color.
A 5600K daylight bulb is generally pretty neutral white light. So, you should bring the wood sample home and place it under several different kinds of light. If you open your blinds or curtains regularly, make sure to do that in the morning, during the day, and at sunset. That will tell you how the wood looks under different daylight conditions. Also, turn on your normal lights to see how it looks.
The source of light matters as well. For example, a 5600K fluorescent bulb might emit what looks like white light. However, the undertones of the light are different. A fluorescent bulb has blue undertones; that can make a tan hardwood look greenish. It can also make a reddish hardwood look purple. That’s a good thing to know before you invest in an entire floor.
You also need to figure out if the wood you choose complements your decor. A lightly colored white oak might look great in the store and might even work great with your furniture, but it might actually clash with lightly colored walls. The white walls could serve to wash out the light floor, making everything look sort of bland. Similarly, a dark wood might not work well with other dark décor; it could make the house look too dark.