Done well, cool colors can transform small, dingy rooms into the kind of spacious, light, tranquil spaces we all dream of. Done badly, they can make previously cozy rooms seem cold and uninviting. If you want to benefit from the relaxing qualities of cooling shades without experiencing their flipside, a bit of strategic planning is called for. Fortunately, help in on hand: read on to discover our top ten tips for using cool colors for home décor.
1. More than Pastels
When we think of cooler shades, many of us immediately think of pastels. And it’s true- pink, mauve, baby blue, magic mint, periwinkle, and lavender are all on the cooler side of the color spectrum. As pastels have been heavily saturated with white to create a “milky” or “washed out” color, they can create a soothing, neutral backdrop in a variety of spaces. But when it comes to choosing cooling colors, there are a lot more options out there than just pastels. Shocking purple, bright-apple green, ocean blue, vibrant cobalt, and not-so-shrinking violet are all on the cooler end of the color spectrum, but unlike pastels, have a bright, vivid energy that can make any room pop.
2. The Power of Neutrals
Cool colors don’t work in all rooms. While they have the potential to make a small, dark room seem lighter and bigger, they can just as easily make an already large room seem cold and uninviting. If you’re worried about creating too stark an environment, add some balance by basing your primary scheme around neutrals (whites, grays, blacks and other neutral shades complement a cool color scheme beautifully, and can appear either warm or cool depending on their undertones), before adding some flair with both cool and warm accents.
3. Black and Blue
While we’re not suggesting you paint your room to look like it’s gone 10 rounds with Tyson Fury, don’t underestimate the power of the black and blue look. Splash a vivid shade of blue on the walls (while being careful to avoid anything too light or too dark), keep trims white for balance, then add as many black accents as the room can take. The dark furniture will make a great counterpoint to the blue walls, while the vivid coolness of the overall scheme will stop the dark furniture looking oppressive or dull.
4. White as a Counterpoint
In a bedroom, a cool wash of light blue or purple on the walls can work wonders at enhancing the sense of space. For a sweet, fresh look, complement the bright shades with all-white furniture. A few finishing touches in a warm shade (a terracotta rug or tangerine bed linen, for example) will add just the right amount of coziness.
5. Cool Accents
As Better Homes & Gardens notes, you don’t have to eschew warm shades completely to get the benefit of cool colors. If your room is better suited to colors on the warmer side of the spectrum (or if your personal preference dictates it), keep things fresh by adding just a little pop of cool color in an unusual way. In the living room, add a touch of vibrancy with some electric purple upholstered chairs. In the bedroom, whisper-soft green bed linen and matching rugs shout serenity, while in the kitchen, keep things cheerful with some sky-blue accessories.
6. Keep it Crisp
Cool colors have a certain crispness and sprightliness that warmer tones lack. In rooms like the living room or den, you might want to tone this down and up the coziness by introducing some warmer accents into the mix. Other rooms, meanwhile, lend themselves to the crisp beauty of a 100% cool color scheme. Make a statement in your kitchen by choosing a sparkling apple green as the main base, before adding some white accents for contrast (although be careful to choose a white with a cooler undertone). Bathroom and utility rooms benefit from a similar treatment. Essentially, if the room is one where cleanliness is prized over warmth, you can afford to drop the warm colors and go to town with their cooler cousins instead.
7. A Contemporary Twist
Cool colors work exceptionally well in modern interiors, complementing cleans lines and minimalist decor perfectly. That said, don’t feel you can’t have some fun with them in more traditional spaces either. A few judicious splashes of purple, green, or even pink can work wonders at giving a vibrant “pop” to traditional interiors, adding just the right amount of contemporary coolness without compromising the overall effect.
8. Pack in the Pairs
If you want a truly eye-catching look, try limiting your color scheme to just two complementary shades. Of course, you can pair two cool colors together just as easily, but if you want to benefit from the best of both worlds, pair a cool shade with a warmer one for a fabulous effect. Although it sounds an odd combo, brown and grey are one of the coolest color pairings for 2020. Despite both being neutrals, browns are generally seen as a warmer shade, while greys are considered a cooler one. Depending on which you choose as your primary base, grey will add a touch of contemporary coolness to proceedings, while brown will add just the right amount of coziness.
9. Let There Be Light
When it comes to choosing a color scheme for your home, it’s not just a case of picking your favorite color and running with it. As Home Guides notes, each room in the house receives a different amount of light throughout the day. Cooler coolers tend to work best in rooms that benefit from plenty of warm, natural light; if your room is north facing and needs to be lit by artificial lightening most of the time, it’s preferable to choose neutrals with warm undertones as your base, before adding some cooler colors as accents.
10. Prioritize Personality
While we’d all like our home to look like something from a magazine, basing your interior on someone’s else’s idea of style rarely ends well. Before you deck your home out in cool colors from head to toe, think about how it’ll play against your own personality. Cool colors tend to create soothing, relaxing, quiet spaces: if you’re the kind of vibrant soul that hates even a second of silence, you might prefer to keep the cool colors to accents only, and opt for warm, energetic colors as your primary shades.