When it comes to decorating a space, have you ever considered using warm or cool colors? Sure, you consider paint swatches and have your favorites. But have you ever given thought to how they’re used to create calm or excitement in a room? Besides sticking with in-your-face, saturated colors, did you know you can use neutrals with a more subtle undertone?
If the answer is “no” and you’re unfamiliar with how to use warm and cool colors, it’s time to learn! The color choice you make can either elevate a room’s overall design or make it drab and depressing. But done correctly, using warm and cool tones can add sophistication to your interior decorating. Ready to master one of the fundamentals of interior design? Here’s how to decorate using warm and cool colors.
Use Flooring With Undertones
Since flooring is the foundation for a room and covers a lot of space, it’s essential to choose the best warm or cool undertones to decorate. Fortunately, there are many flooring types from which to choose. However, hardwood flooring has an advantage. With many wood species available, hardwood can be found in deep, red mahoganies or even a light white oak, each presenting a different mood to express your space. Like the Palmetto Road Chalmers Collection, some hardwood flooring brands and manufacturers even offer a dual stain, lending subtle color changes that can be transformed by lighting. Whatever flooring you decide to go with, make sure to view a sample in the space.
Understand The Color Palette
Warm and cool colors break down a color palette. Complementary to each other on the color wheel, reds, yellows, and oranges are considered warm, while blues, greens, and grays are cool. Violets and greens are the exceptions to the rule, which can be warm or cool, depending on the tone.
When it comes to blacks, whites, and neutrals, it can get a bit tricky. At the same time, not saturated colors, black and white do exhibit warm and cool undertones. Black is considered to have a warming effect, while white has a cooling effect (think of a white umbrella on the beach). Neutrals are somewhere in between, offering a flexible and versatile look to any room or space. These color choices can be incorporated into any home decor with infinite neutral shade possibilities, from reddish browns to cool taupes and grays. Now, let’s explore the many ways to use these warm and cool undertones.
Use Warm Colors In Communal Spaces
As a general rule of thumb, warm colors are ideal for communal spaces where people socialize. Reds, oranges, and yellows, as well as off-whites, lend a certain amount of energy and stimulation into a room. In turn, this energy creates a more friendly and active environment where people engage with one another. (This is why you often see fast-food restaurants and sports brands in warm colors.)
When it comes to decorating the home, keep in mind that warm colors are best suited for living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchen areas. If you have an open floor plan that connects each room, use a warm-colored neutral on the walls to create a more inviting, social space for the family to come together.
Use Cool Colors In Private Areas
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have cool colors. Cooler colors like blues and even cool browns and whites evoke a calm feeling throughout the space. Home offices, libraries, and bathrooms are quite often painted or decorated with a cool color palette, allowing the visitor to concentrate or relax. Bedrooms especially are ideal for cool color palettes, calming the mind into a restful sleep.
Cool tones are also meant to make a room appear spacious. So if you have a small bathroom or living space, use this optical illusion to open up the room. Following the same principle, ceilings painted in cool tones can also make a room appear airier and higher.
When it comes to decorating a room, be consistent, and stick to a mostly cool or warm color scheme. While it’s entirely possible to combine warm and cool tones, it’s important to remember that the closer you move towards warm, the warmer the cooler-toned decor and walls will appear. An easy way to combine both tones without overwhelming the senses is to paint a wall a warm color to add a subtle contrast and balance to the remaining cool color scheme. Grays work wonderfully at creating a neutral color palette in the room. All this said, while you can mix cools and warms, it takes true design skills to pull it off. So stick to a consistent, more simple palette first to ensure an effortless design.
Use The 80/20 Rule
When pulling together your decor, you want to include pops of color over a mostly neutral backdrop. Using the 80/20 rule, combine your colors in a balanced way. That is to say, 80 percent neutrals and 20 percent accent colors. For example, you might make a bedroom cool colors throughout but want to spice it up with a bright red or yellow pop. Another example might be a warm taupe-hued kitchen with a navy blue backsplash or bright teal light fixtures over the bar. Essentially, the neutral colors–whether they have warm or cool undertones–should carry most of the weight.
Create The Perfect Space With Warm Or Cool Colors
Ready to create the perfect home environment? Thanks to studies in color psychology, we now understand that color profoundly impacts our moods and behavior daily.
And now that you understand how to incorporate warm and cool colors into your decor, it’s time to create the perfect space! Start with choosing a warm or cool palette and work from there. Place additional design elements like furniture, lighting, and even curtains to carry through the tones while also accenting that 20 percent touch of bold colors. And don’t be afraid to experiment. You may love what you design!