Red hallway

Your essential guide to color temperature

Not sure where to use warm or cool colors? Our top tips will help you choose the right tones for your rooms.

If you’re getting ready to decorate, it might be helpful for you to take a look at a color wheel first. The wheel shows the relationship between shades and you’ll notice that the wheel is roughly divided between two color groups: warm hues and cool hues. Reds, yellows, oranges and beige/creamy colors are warm, while blues, greens and greys are cool.

Here, we walk you through finding the right color temperatures for your paint project.

Warm colors

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 color, you could go for energetic, citrus hues like lemon yellow, tangerine orange or fuchsia. If you prefer a subtler look but still want warmth, head towards the darker end of the warm spectrum with colors like mulberry purple, burnt orange and mustard yellow.

Warm colors are ideal if you have a darker north-facing room, as they enhance light quality and add warmth.

Which colors?

B5.14.62 / 99RR 42/216
B6.30.40 / 04YR 18/324
B7.43.31 / 05YR 13/387

Cool colors

Blue dining room

Calming and serene, cool colors help to soothe the senses, making them perfect for spaces in which you want to rest, relax and re-energize. You can opt for marine blues in the bathroom for a lagoon feeling or decorate your home office in smoky shades of lilac to create a calm oasis.

If you’ve got a south-facing room that gets plenty of sunshine, try balancing the bright light with cool colors, like evergreen and sea blue.

Which colors?

T4.43.26 / 32BB 10/296

Warm neutrals

Kitchen in neutral tones

Easy on the eye, warm neutrals are perfect for creating a look of understated elegance. If you’re dreaming of a cozy and welcoming sanctuary, try painting your room a mix of warm neutrals. 

Pale tones will create a serene atmosphere, while deeper shades will evoke a sense of luxury. Intensify the relaxing ambience with wood accessories and soft furnishings.

Which colors?

F6.05.83 / 41YY 77/065
F9.06.81 / 45YY 73/081

Cool neutrals

Light blue hallway

Soft and delicate, cool neutrals are ideal for adding balance and stability to a space. For a modern and elegant look, try hues from the darker end of the spectrum such as pewter, smoke grey, charcoal and slate. To create a softer, more delicate mood, opt for off-whites like pearl and almond, or powdery greys and blues. Add contrast by pairing them with fresh white woodwork and stone flooring.

Which colors?

J2.04.59 / 37GY 38/050
J5.03.71 / 45GY 55/052

Download the Visualizer app to see what colors could work in your home.

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