10 Tips for Decorating with Warm Colors

White walls, gray sofas, and an unending sea of blues. Today's interior design is replete with cool colors, and for good reason. The more subdued end of the color spectrum goes well with the sleek lines, hard curves, and laser-sharp angles that mark modern design pieces from furniture to accessories. Cooler colors also help to give a home a calm and serene feel, which is a must in a world that seems to get noisier every day. Still, while cool colors may make a space feel modern and calm, it's the warm colors that make it feel like home. But warmer shades can also take more work to get just right, especially when you're trying to create a space that has a sophisticated aesthetic in addition to a comfortable feel. And some of the brighter colors, like pinks and reds can be outright intimidating when trying to work them into a balanced color scheme. But if you've always wanted a brighter, warmer space to live in but have been discouraged at the prospect of wrestling with some of the more unruly colors, don't fret just yet. Like everything in design, all it takes is the right know-how and a willingness to spend some time in trial and error. Now, we can't give you the time, but we can offer 10 designer tips on how to decorate with warm colors, that will have you creating warm inviting spaces in no time at all.

  • 01 of 10

    Make the Sofa a Focal Point

    Living room with colorful statement couch in mauve
    Laurie Lumiere

    One of the fastest ways to work a warm color into your color palette is to turn it into a statement piece. In the living room, that means turning your sofa into the colorful belle of the ball. This approach works best when you're looking to embrace a warm color in a darker shade. Here, a plush, comfy-looking sofa is wrapped in a warm mauve tone to create a pieces that instantly elevates the neutral-heavy room. Whenever you're making color statements like this in your space, be sure to sprinkle in a few additional moments of the color - such as the throw blanket and vase that accompany the couch in this space. This will help to weave the color into the fabric of the space and keep your big color moment from feeling random and out of place.

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  • 02 of 10

    Add Color in Layers

    Dining room with layers of warm color in the drapery and rug
    Sight Unseen

    It's great to have a colorful centerpiece in your room, but more often than not you'll find that one piece just isn't enough. In order to truly bring a sense of warmth a room you'll need to layer your warmer colors into the space. Creating layers of color might sound complicated, but it's actually quite simple. All it requires is that you use similar colors in different ways in different parts of the room. Layering allows different elements into the room to relate to each other and creates a unified, cohesive look.

    In this room there are a few warm influences, such as the metallic table. However, it's the burnt sienna tone that stands out the most because it's the only color to be layered into the space through the curtains and rug. Having the same color on both creates a visual bond between them that pulls the whole room together. It's important to note that colors aren't the only thing that can be layered, as this room teaches us. The chevron pattern in the burnt sienna rug are repeated in the pattern of the dividing wall, tying the wall and floor together in an entirely different way.

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  • 03 of 10

    Consider Darker Colors

    Sitting room in warm green tones
    The Design Chaser

    If you're concerned that working with bright, sunny colors will cause your room to look a bit on the juvenile side, that is a valid concern. It is mitigated, however, by looking a little deeper, at the darker shades of some unexpected colors. Green is rarely the first answer to roll off of the tongue when we're asked to identify warm colors. But it is a valid part of that continuum, being the color of plants, trees and so much of what we associate with life in the natural world. Because of that, green is a perfect choice for bringing a warm touch to a space, particularly in a dark and moody tone. Here, green is paired with a neutral black and warm brown to create a sophisticated yet warm environment.

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  • 04 of 10

    Inject Warm Tones Through Art

    Gallery wall using warm colors in art to brighten a living room
    Laurel & Wolf

    When it comes to bringing warm colors into your room, furniture, though a very good option, is not your only one. Instead, consider looking to your walls where a well thought out display of art can bring  variety of colors to your space, either to introduce the colors or give your larger colored pieces an echo in the room. In this room, a large, room spanning gallery wall brings a variety of reds and blues into the space creating a higher level of visual interest. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Wrap Your Walls in Color

    Sitting area painted in Parlour paint color by AphroChic

    If you have a favorite shade—one that you really love - it's fine to move past furniture and rugs and go big. Just as with lighter, cooler colors, painting the walls in a rich warm tone sets the tone for a space while providing a backdrop for everything that the space will include. In this space, a rich shade of brown covers the walls, making it easy for pieces like the black bench and metallic pillow to pop.

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  • 06 of 10

    Use Rugs with Bold, Warm Colors

    Colorful room in warm shades of red and pink
    Imperio Vida

    When the furniture or walls aren't the options you're looking for, consider bringing warmth to your room through the floor instead. Warm shades like red and pink can be brought in through large scale textiles like rugs. The best thing about using rugs to add color to a space is that rugs are rarely colorblocked and tend to have strong patterns. That makes them perfect for blending colors together to tie in a color palette. In this space, a large pink and black rug grounds the space by using many of the same colors found in the furniture pieces and art. Pulling these strong colors together in this rug helps to create a context in which some of the stronger colors present in the room don't seem so wild.

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  • 07 of 10

    Use Warm Colors in Textiles

    A neutral living room featuring textiles in warm tones
    SF Girl by Bay

    Pillows and other textiles, such as throw blankets and afghans, are some of the most versatile pieces to have in your home. Designed to be colorful and easily swapped out or replaced, pillows are often the best place to start when you're looking for a refresh rather than an entire redesign. In this relaxed, open space the colorful blanket and pillows that adorn the couch make the entire room that much brighter and more inviting. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Bring in the Brown

    Kitchen with cabinets and bar in warm wood finishes
    Style by Emily Henderson

    Brown is the perfect warm tone. It instantly personalizes and warms any space that it's included in. And the best way to add brown to your home is through woodgrain elements. Like green, brown is one of those colors that we automatically associate with the great outdoors. Because of that, there's just no better medium for making brown work in a space than wood. In this kitchen, warm, wood cabinetry is paired with smooth, marble countertops for a perfect combination of colors and textures. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Some Shades are for Accents

    Living room with warm orange curtains

    Not every warm color is great for filling a room with. Among the warmer shades you also tend to find some of the bolder colors. Colors that, if used indiscriminately can take your decor in the wrong direction. That doesn't mean that these colors are to be avoided though, simply that it best to use them in small pops where they can have a big impact. Take this space for example. Tangerine is not necessarily a color that you would want to see on every wall because the vibrance of the wall would be overwhelming. But in a room of mostly neutral and largely cool color choices, using tangerine on the curtains gives just the right amount of color to make something remarkable happen.  

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  • 10 of 10

    Think Outside the Box

    Bedroom with walls painted in warm purple shade
    SF Girl by Bay

    Once you've got a pretty good grasp on how to use warm colors in a space, it's time to start looking for new colors to use. Browns, greens and pinks are all wonderful colors to have in a space, but there's more to see as well. Combination colors, like the lilac/gray paint that covers the walls in this room give you the best of both worlds—a soothing gray with a lively undertone of lilac.