What Are Cool-Toned Colors in Interior Design?

Decorating with Cool Colors

Interior design with cool-tone colors
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Are you getting ready to re-design a room or paint the walls in a new color? You may be wondering which colors are cool in interior design -- and why you would use them. 

The Color Wheel

The color wheel, part of color theory, is divided into warm and cool colors. On the cool side of the wheel are shades of green, blue and violet, moving from bright green to blue-green, through ocean blue and cobalt, and on to purple and violet.

Like water, sky and greenery, these colors are soothing and bring a sense of calm to a space. These colors also give the impression that they are receding, they make a space feel more open, adding to the calm effect. Trendy gray is technically a neutral, and it can be a warm gray or a cool shade. If it's a steely, bluish gray, it gives similar decor values to a room as classically cool colors.

How to Decorate With Cool Colors

Start with a neutral background -- shades of white, taupe, gray or beige. Keep it on the light side. The safe money is on also keeping your furniture and flooring neutral so that the expensive parts of your room can look good with a multitude of changes in color scheme. Or go bold if you have deep pockets and let the upholstery pop.

The decor rule of thumb is that opposites enhance each other. These are called complementary colors. So for example, pair a soft greenish-blue area rug (cool) with burnt orange (warm), greenish-blue and greenish-blue, burnt orange patterned or striped throw pillows to accent a room of neutral cream-colored walls, hardwood flooring and neutral-colored sofa.

Ideally, the pillows tie the rug, the orange accents and the neutral of the sofa and walls together as they add some color drama. Or use eggplant (cool) and pale yellow (warm) for a striking combo in a bedroom or bath. For the bath, paint the walls a very light shade of yellow for cheeriness and add cream-colored ceramic tile for a neutral base.

Let the vanity add warmth with its wood tones and use eggplant as an accent in towels and wall hangings. In a bedroom, paint the walls a creamy white. Dress the bed in creamy neutrals for a peaceful canvas and add throw pillows in soft yellow, eggplant and patterns or stripes of both colors. Add a throw in eggplant for a strong accent. Or make a strong statement with an eggplant duvet cover and shams, accented with a lot of cream and a bit of light yellow in the throw pillows for warmth.

Try a monochromatic cool vibe by using several shades of the same color along with a neutral. Various shades of blue used liberally as accents in an otherwise all-white room is quintessentially cool. It makes for a peaceful and quiet bedroom. Use a palette of greens for a fresh and stunning bath, set against white tile.