Help in understanding how to use cool and warm color in decoratin

mommaseedOctober 5, 2010

x-post from home dec.

We are building a home and need to start on the interior. The tile we have selected is warm tones, and hoping to find the right white for kitchen cabinets. Do we use a cool or warm tone on the walls?

Guess I am confused if we are suppose to stay all warm or all cold, or do we use a cool tone wall paint because the floors will be warm.

Thank you!

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Lori A. Sawaya

Either way is correct - it's about color relationships and harmony, managing different levels of color contrasts.

Focusing on one level of color contrast, like temperature, does not guarantee flawless color harmony. Cool with cool, warm with warm is an optional starting point for building color palettes but you still have to evaluate the color relationships as a whole.

Whenever you choose to incorporate contrasts like warm and cool or light and dark, or clean and muted you're creating visual tension with color. For some people, the more visual tension between/among colors, the better and more interesting. For others that visual tension equates to visual discourse and they don't find it interesting at all. It's not pretty or pleasing in their opinion, maybe to the point it makes the space feel off and uncomfortable.

Mixing warm and cool in creating color schemes is the more difficult level of color contrast to get right, pull off. Next most difficult is mixing clean and dirty or could say vivid and muted.

Truly the easiest route is to choose a color temperature, warm palette or cool palette for the shell, walls, floors, and cabinets. Rely on using light and dark and interesting juxtapositions of harmonious colors to create levels of interest. A random example might look like this: floor is warm and midtone, cabinets are a white with a slight warm and creamy edge. Walls have a warm edge too and are a snidge to a lot darker than the floor.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 11:58AM
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funcolors, your post is very informative. Last year we did a kitchen renovation. I was sure I wanted green walls and tested about 10 but didn't like the look with my pecan cabinets, light wood floor and cream/brown granite. I ended up going with a beige instead. I like your suggestion for choosing a color temperature.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 3:21PM
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Seriously .. read this blog! she explains warm, cool, clean dirty, light5, dark, greys, beiges, yellows, whites and why your colors look bad together ... with lots of pictures.

Not my blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: Colour Me Happy

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 3:44PM
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Lori A. Sawaya

Good color harmony is good color harmony - period - and harmony happens at various levels of color contrasts.

Making less muted and muted colors work together or warm and cool colors work means striking the perfect pitch of color harmony which can be done. I do think it comes easier for some than it does for others. If it couldn't be done, the worlds of fine arts, graphic design, and interior design would be completely predictable. Everything produced would look the same - no variety, uninteresting, and contrived. Mostly contrived.

It's truly about personal color tolerances. Some people prefer, and crave, color contrasts on several levels - like need to break up a mass of warm with punches of cool. While others simply do not like the mix. In the context of their own home, they prefer consistently warm or cool colors.

Have to be open to the possibilities and figure out which color combinations fit you best. It's about your color journey. It's about discovery, experimentation and your authentic palette. So, if what I write about color helps people think about and logically examine all the options, not just a few, and leads them to defining their own expectations and identifying their true individual color tolerances, then it was a good day.

So thanks, mom270, for sharing how you figured out what worked best for you. Never know who might see themselves in your color story and have a light-bulb moment. :~D

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 8:01AM
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to add to fun colors first post, after you've chosen your warm or cool palette for your walls, cabinets, floors etc, you can then experiment with adding the opposite (warm with cool or cool with warm) with accessories.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 11:40PM
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