Warm vs. Cool Colors: Why Does It Matter?

calander Jan 15 , 2020 user-icon Nash Painting

As you compare paint colors for your home interior painting project, you may come across the terms “warm” and “cool” every now and then. You might wonder what these adjectives normally used to describe temperature have to do with color. Indeed, while temperature most commonly refers to the amount of heat in a system, it can also be used to describe the amount or type of light reflected by an object.

But what colors would be considered warm or cool, and why? How does color temperature factor into your home painting decisions? And what are some applications for warm and cool colors? Let’s explore these questions and explain why color warmth matters.

Warm vs. Cool Colors

Defining Warm and Cool Colors

First, we need to go over which colors are warm and which are cool. Just like physical temperature, color temperature exists on a spectrum, meaning it’s a matter of degrees. In other words, a color might be extremely warm or cool, or just moderately so. The determining factor of a color’s warmth is how far it leans toward the warmest end (yellow-orange) or coolest end (blue). This propensity toward either end of the spectrum is known as “bias.”

So, yellow can exist as a warmer or cooler color depending on its bias. If it’s mixed with some amount of blue or green, for instance, it’s a cooler yellow, but if it’s blended with red, it becomes a warmer yellow. Likewise, yellowish-red is considered warm while bluish red (like magenta) is deemed cool. The more you examine warm and cool colors, the easier it becomes to identify them and intuitively “feel” their temperature.

When to Go with Warm Colors

Understanding color temperature is one thing, but implementing it is another. At the end of the day, whether you choose warmer or cooler colors for a given space is a matter of preference. But if you want to make a more informed decision, consider that warmer colors tend to make spaces more welcoming and, for better or worse, somewhat smaller. If intimacy is your aim, then, go with warm colors. Choosing these hues can make a larger space feel less empty and more down to earth.

Why Choose Cool Colors?

Naturally, cool colors have the opposite effect. Rather than visually shrink an interior space, cooler tones make it feel more spacious, perfect for spreading out. If you want to get the most out of a smaller room, having your interior house painters coat your walls and ceilings with cool colors will help.

Balancing You Space With Both Warm and Cool Colors

On their own, warm and cool colors can help you achieve the interior aesthetic you’re looking for. However, leaning too heavily on one direction may throw a room out of balance. If you want to control the color climate, so to speak, consider implementing both warm and cool colors in a given space. You might do this by having your local painters create a warm accent wall amidst an otherwise cool room (or vice versa). You can also contrast warm and cool colors using furniture, artwork, accessories, and other decorative means. For instance, your interior might feature warm yellow walls but be furnished with light-blue chairs or pillows.

So, why does color temperature matter? In short, it’s all about balance. The more you know about warm and cool colors and the effects they have on spaces, the better equipped you’ll be to make the most out of your home’s interiors. As always, if you’re struggling to choose colors for your redesign efforts, partner up with a Nashville painting company that offers color selection services in addition to everything else.

At Nash Painting, we don’t just apply coats of paint to residential and commercial properties -- we work closely with each client to truly transform their spaces. To learn more about us, our services, and our values, call us at (615) 829-6858 today!