Decorating With a Cool Color Scheme

Incorporate Cooler Tones into Interior Design

Cool colors, located on the left side of this color wheel, can make a space feel calm and grounded. Photo © Tonya Lee

The side of the color wheel that is comprised of greens, purples, and blues, along with various other combinations of these colors, are typically referred to as the cool colors. They make up a cool color scheme, and there are many advantages to decorating with these tones.

These colors have been known to slow breathing rate, relax muscles, lower blood pressure and body temperature, and make you feel more relaxed overall.

The stronger the color is, the more intense this “cooling” effect tends to be on the body.

Tips for Decorating With a Cool Color Scheme

  • Cool colors can remind one of water and sky, and typically have the ability to calm and soothe, so they work well in bedrooms and other areas where one would like to relax.
  • Cool colors often appear as though they recede in a space and can make a small room appear larger. They can just as easily make a large or dark room appear cold and unwelcoming. Large amounts of cool colors often work best in rooms with plenty of warm, natural light.
  • If your color palette leans heavily toward large amounts of cool colors, try balancing the color palette with a warm color or two. To make the best choices, choose colors on opposite ends of the color wheel. For example, balance a deep cool purple with a bright warm yellow or orange.
  • Cool colors often work well in a contemporary style home, but to keep your space from becoming too formal or stark, try mixing in some warmer colors as accents.
  • Though we all want to feel relaxed in our homes, a dominant cool color scheme may not work well if you have a very vibrant personality. If this describes you, try incorporating cool colors as accent colors and go with a warmer, more energetic shades as your dominant colors.
  • Whites, blacks, grays, and other neutrals can work well in a cool color scheme, and depending upon the undertones of the color, these neutral colors can appear either warm or cool. A cool neutral can make an excellent wall color and balances warmer tones like wood floorings and furnishings.
  • When choosing cool paint colors, paint pigments have subtle variations that can appear differently in your home than in the store. Paints with blue or green undertones typically appear cool, but it is worth the small amount of money a paint sample may cost to make sure the paint color works in your home.
  • Remember that when working with color, the decorating color “rules” mentioned above are really just guidelines and can change depending upon various elements such as the lighting or design of the space.

Next: Take a look at these cool color schemes for inspiration.