Warm Colors vs. Cool Colors in Home Design

Color is always considered one of the most critical facets of the design of any room. It can create a mood or invoke memories of a far-off, distant place. Colors can also make you smile, ease your stress, and help you doze off into a good night’s sleep. So how do you decide which colors are perfect for your taste? Designers always throw around terms such as warm colorsand cool colors. Gaining the perception of these terms will help you determine what to look for when choosing colors for your home decor.

Understand the psychology of color

Color theory knowledge is not just about picking successful color schemes. It is also helpful to know the effect color can have on our moods, temperature, blood pressure, metabolism, eyestrain, and even how we see sizes and shapes. We all tend to respond to specific colors differently; for instance, a cool blue may relax one individual yet be depressing for another. It is essential to consider the use of each room while planning your paint colors. 

You need to ask yourself what kind of mood you want to create in each room. For example, restful colors in a bedroom may not work in an energetic area like a kitchen. Cool paint colors are prosperous in cozy areas, like bedrooms and bathrooms. Warm paint colors are always suitable for active rooms, such as kitchens, dining rooms, and children’s rooms.

What are the warm colors? 

Warm colors consist of yellow, orange, red, and combinations of similar colors. As the name suggests, they tend to make you think of warm things, such as heat and sunlight. Warm colors tend to look as though they come closer or in advance visually, which is why they are widely used to make large rooms seem cheerful. If you have a huge bedroom space that you want to look more intimate, try coloring a warm color like terra-cotta or brown to make it feel pleasant.


Yellow tends to attract attention and is known as the source of light. It is used to issue cautions when used in a blend with black. It is in the spectrum to which the eye is the most sensitive. It energizes the brain and increases brain activity as well as perception. It proves advantageous in achieving concentration, focusing on work, and remembering information.


As a dominant color, red is a signal for alarm as it fetches attention first among all stimuli. Things in red seem closer than objects in other colors. Red is the longest wavelength, and its emotional impact is the highest.


Orange is an appetite-improving and entertaining color. It has a revitalizing, boosting effect.

What are the cool colors? 

Cool colors are blue, green, and light purple. They can calm and soothe the mind and eyes where warm colors prompt heat and sunshine while cool colors remind you of water and sky, including the ice and snow. In contrast to warm colors, cool colors look as though they retreat, making it great for small rooms that you would like to make appear more prominent. If you have a tiny bedroom that you want to enlarge visually, try coloring it with a color like light blue to make it seem significant.


Blue is a rational color. It is generally associated with deep thinking and meditation. It intensifies concentration and also helps the development of the decision-making mechanism.


Green is connected with feelings of security, relief, and relaxation. It stimulates the mind both emotionally and logically. Because it emits soft energy, its use in artistic activities, dancing, and cooking schools is appropriate. Its use in language laboratories and creative activities helps to learn.


Purple supports non-verbal activities. It can be used in drama rooms.

How Warm Colors Impact a Space?

More Intimate Perceived Space

While cools tend to recede, warm colors approach the person looking at them. Because of this, warm-color painted walls will appear closer than the cool walls. This makes the place feel more intimate and secure. If spaces seem uninviting because they are stark or overlarge, they can be turned into cozy, enticing places by applying warm colors.

Energy and Creativity

Warm colors are the most attention-fetching on the color wheel. That is why you often see them on all warning signs and objects we are supposed to see at a distance like taxicabs, for example. This attention-grabbing nature wakes up our minds and energizes us when we look at such colors. Warm colors are also generally associated with creativity, perfect for an artistic, elegant look.

Cheerfulness and Positivity

Most of our associations with warm colors are cheerful, like bright sunshine, colorful flowers, and warm campfires. These colors make us feel hopeful, happy, and ready for fun. Interior Designers often favor warm colors for rooms where you might entertain guests, such as a dining room or family room.

How Cool Colors Impact a Space? 

Larger Perceived Space

We often think of the outdoors like the distant sky, a grassy field, when we think of cool colors. They suggest wide and open spaces. Because of that, cool colors tend to retreat in our vision, and rooms with walls painted these colors tend to look more spacious. This makes cool colors an excellent pick for making smaller rooms seem broad.


When you think of an emotionally cool person, you imagine them to be calm. Generally, cool colors tend to have a similar emotional effect, making us feel restful and at ease. Rooms that you would like to associate feelings of peace with, like bedrooms and bathrooms, often do well with such cool colors.

Focus and Productivity

Even though cool colors indicate calm emotions, that does not mean they cause apathy. Cool colors are also concerned with mental productivity and concentration. Blue is incredibly popular among those who need to focus on cerebral tasks that require a great deal of attention. If you are looking for specific ways to add color to your home office, blue may be the color for you.

How to use warm and cool colors adequately in your house?

Now that you understand the differences between warm and cool colors, let’s discuss applying their applications. Here are quick tips for making both schools of colorwork in your home.

Balance it out

The crucial thing to keep in mind anytime decorating interior space is balance. And this is true when it comes to colors. Too many warm colors in one room can make it look dull, while too many cool colors can make a room sterile. However, balancing warm colors vs. cool colors doesn’t mean combining the two with half and half. Instead, you can use various shades, tints, and textures within a warm and cool palette to add variety and rely heavily on neutrals to accomplish the overall look and feel of the space.

The 80/20 rule

Speaking of neutrals, when using color in your home, the general thumb rule is to use color as an accent and not just as the defining feature. It is recommended to follow the 80/20 rule to make that happen, which means that 80% of a room is completed with neutrals while 20% is composed of richer colors. Following this rule certainly helps ensure that you don’t accidentally overdo it while also taking a lot of the assumptions out of finding that all-important balance.

Consider the features you can’t change.

Unless you’re doing a complete home renovation, the chances are that your interior design focus is on the highlights like furniture and wall paint. And you carefully need to pay attention to these as they are already in the room and not going to go anywhere, such as flooring. 

Always mix it up when it makes sense

While the primary central points of the room should remain within the same warm or cool color palette, it is okay to use both warm colors and cool colors in a room so long as the changing palette is used for accents. For example, warm brass hardware or fixtures can make a massive statement in cool colored bedrooms and bathrooms, while brushed nickel, like a naturally cool neutral, looks excellent against warm shades. Always think of the big picture while choosing colors for a room and make selections that bring out the aura you want.

Pay attention to the ro

om size and use

Warm colors are widely used in large rooms where family members spend time together, while cool colors are often relegated to smaller rooms. This is certainly not a rule to be followed, but it is a good guideline to consider if you’re staring at a space and wondering where to start. When selecting between warm colors and cool colors in your home, always make sure to think first and foremost about the main purpose of the room and how color and size play off of each other. The more rooms you finish, the more usual this process should become. 

Also See: How to Choose Exterior Paint Colors for House | Tips for Painting Concrete Floor | How to Decorate Using the 60-30-10 Color Rule?


The factor that can dramatically impact the paint color is the lighting in the room. The amount of sun, the kind of lights you have in the room, and the position of the room can all affect how it will appear. It is always good to paint a small area and look at it during different times before moving ahead. Whether you are planning on getting a new look or a simple refresh, understanding the difference between warm and cool will ensure that your room will feel like home for more years to come.

Also Read: Work from Home Design Ideas

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Warm Colors?

Red, Yellow, and orange on the color wheel of primary and secondary colors are known as warm colors. Colors with a red, yellow, and orange hue are also considered warm. On the contrary side, green, purple, and blue are cool, and thus, colors that lean towards these tints will be cool.

Can I use warm and cool colors in the same space?

Yes, you can. However, it would help if you decided beforehand whether you want the room to feel warm or cool. Whatever your choice is, your dominant color needs to reflect it. Otherwise, your room may feel unstable.

Are the neutral colors warm or cool?

Neutral shades in and of themselves are neither warm nor cool. However, they are seldom applied in isolation but serve to highlight or tone down other colors, regardless of whether painting a room. Neutral colors also tend to take on the temperature of the colors that accompany them.

Is Pink a Warm Color?

Pink is an attractive color and a mix of white, which is neutral, and red, which is warm. Therefore, it could be asserted that it is a warm color, but it will eventually depend on its paired color. 

In art, is green a warm or cool color?

Whether in art or interiors, green is a cool color. Think of the shade from a cool grass or leafy tree beneath your feet. Colors mixed with green that have a vivid green hue are also cool. If it is combined with a warm color and takes on the shade of that color, it can be considered warm.

Also See: 10 Colors That Make a Room Look Bigger | What is Wabi-Sabi Design?

Written by

Rostislav Shetman is the founder of 9Kilo Moving. He has been in the moving and relocation industry for more than 25 years, making him an expert in his field. Rostislav started as a helper, dispatcher and driver and has worked his way up to owning his own company. He takes great pride in his work and enjoys helping people relocate across the United States of America. When he's not working, Rostislav enjoys spending time with his family and friends. They are the light of his life and bring him happiness every day.