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Warm vs cool: The temperature of colour
Decorating? Choose colour combinations with confidence.
If you’re about to start decorating, you might find it helpful to take a look at a colour wheel first. You’ll notice that the wheel is roughly divided between two colour groups: warm hues and cool hues. Reds, yellows, oranges and beige/creamy colours are warm, while the blues, greens and greys are cool.
Stimulating, spicy and invigorating, warm hues work best in the social rooms of the house, such as the living room, dining room and kitchen. If you love saturated colour, you could go for zesty, citrus hues like lemon yellow, tangerine orange or fuschia pink. If you prefer a more subtle look but still want to incite warmth, head towards the darker end of the warm spectrum – think mulberry purple, burnt orange and mustard yellow. Warm colours are ideal if you have a darker north-facing room, as they enhance light quality and add warmth.
Calming and serene, cool colours help to quiet the emotions and soothe the senses, making them perfect for spaces in which you want to rest, relax and reenergize. You could layer marine blues in the bathroom for a blue-lagoon feeling – we love cobalt, ultramarine and translucent aqua –, or decorate your home office in smoky shades of lilac to create a calm environment. If you’ve got a south-facing room that gets plenty of sunshine, try balancing the glare with cool colours, like evergreen and sea blue.
Easy on the eye, warm neutrals are perfect for creating a look of understated elegance. If you’re dreaming of a cosy sanctuary for a perfect night’s sleep, you might like to try painting your bedroom a mix of warm neutrals, such as soft truffle, warm honey and milk chocolate. The pale tones will create a serene atmosphere, while the deeper shades will evoke a sense of luxury. Intensify the cosy atmosphere with soft blankets in tones like oyster and nutmeg.
Soft and tender, cool neutrals are ideal for adding balance and stability to a room. To create a room that feels slick modern, look to hues at the darker end of the spectrum such as pewter, smoke grey, charcoal and slate. Or to create a softer, more delicate mood, opt for feathery off-whites like pearl and almond, or powdery greys like dove grey and steel. Add contrast by pairing them with fresh white woodwork and timber flooring.