A Tale of Two Tones

A Tale of Two Tones

It’s second nature for designers to refer to colors as cool or warm, but what does that mean to you? If you picture the color wheel, we generally think of red, orange and yellow as warm and violet, blue and green as cool. But in fact whether a color is warm or cool really depends upon the context because it’s all relative. Even the experts are divided over which is the warmest color family—red or yellow. Likewise, some believe that blue is the coolest, while others think it’s blue violet. Neutrals can be either warm or cool depending on if the undertones are more blue or red or yellow.

But what difference does this make in home décor? Well, for one, color effects the mood of a space. Generally speaking, warm colors are active, stimulating and cheerful while cool colors are passive, restful and subdued. That’s why red dining rooms fire up the appetite and blue bedrooms make you sleepy. 

It’s also obvious that the choice of warm versus cool (color temperature) depends on the climate where you live. If it’s cold outside much of the year, don’t you want the space inside to be warm and cozy? And if you live in a tropical climate, it seems likely you’d want to cool it down when you come indoors.

And what happens when you mix cool and warm tones in a palette? Ah, balance and harmony. Yes, sometimes you do want to spark up a room with color but for most us the home is our retreat and a place where we want to relax in the company of family and friends. So, mix it up with color and even though a space may be predominately cool or warm, add a touch of counterpoint for a long lasting harmonious feeling.

Do you consider yourself a cool person or a warm person? Check out our Pinterest board for even more decorating inspiration!