Understanding Warm and Cool Colours

In colour psychology, we have colour temperature. This is the warmth or coolness of the light source through which we view the colours. The temperature of colour is measured using the Kelvin scale (K). Colours from 5000K and above are referred to as cool colours – the blues. Lower temperatures of colour from 2700K to 3000K are known as warm colours. These are the yellows. Understanding colour temperature is important in decoration and design as it helps one to create and interpret moods and depth. Someone with a good design eye should know their way around warm and cool colours. On the colour wheel, the warm colours are the yellows and reds while the cool colours are the blues and greens.  

Warm Colours

Colors within the spectrum of orange, red, yellow and combinations of these are regarded as warm colors. Living room styled in warm colours   This is because they give off a fuzzy feeling and make you think of things like sunlight and heat. The eye perceives warm colors as though they advance, which is why they’re often used to make large rooms seem cozier. Also, they are ideal for rooms with a lot of activities as they can be stimulating. In essence, warm colors are associated with heightened emotions and passion as well as joy and playfulness. Some design styles that go well with warm colours are the maximalist, the natural look, and even contemporary. You can also pull off a welcoming minimalist look with a warm colour palette.  

Cool Colours

Blue, green, and a combination of these are regarded as cool colours.   These colours are basic and apt representations of the calming aspects of nature – the sea, the skies, and trees. They are calmer and more refreshing and offer the illusion of largeness when used in a space. Because these colours are considered mature and responsible, they can easily be found in work spaces and in use in many corporate facilities. Cool colours are associated with serenity, level-headedness, depth, and intelligence. Most contemporary and minimalist designs do well with cool colours.  

Mixing Warm and Cool Colours

It can be pretty great to mix both warm and cool colours in a space, if you do it right. If you’re going for an eclectic or shabby chic look, you can throw in both warm and cool colours. The key to a good mix, though, is the balance of neutral colours. With any of the neutral colours, you can create a background and then throw in elements from either colour temperature. The interesting thing is that even for neutrals, there are shades and tints that can achieve either a cool or warm look. Using shades like white, black, or grey will cause a space to lean more toward cool. However, the softness of the earth tone brown gives a warm and welcoming look. The possibilities are endless, though! For example, with the Dulux 2021 Colour of the Year, Brave Ground, there are various palettes with different tones that you can pair with a thousand other colours to make any kind of statement.

Dulux 2021 Timeless Palette

  One of the great things about decorating is that it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming affair, neither do you have to splash colours all over to make an effect. A spot of colour situated in just the right spot with the right decor element can make all the difference. Or a mix of neutral colours in patterns or a theme. Or a single warm colour on an accent wall. Or a single cool colour for your desk or cabinets.

Dulux 2021 Expressive Palette



Here are a few palettes and spaces to give you inspiration for mixing your warm, cool, and neutral colours.   Situating the warm colours strategically, they can be a lovely accent to the cool tones.     Mix up your decor elements in these colours – throw pillows, lamps, and even an accent wall – and enjoy a seamless contrast. A basic understanding of colour temperature and how you can use warm and cool colours to your taste can change your colour life forever! Follow us this year on our colour journey and share your adventures with us on our social media pages.