Working with cool color palettes and the cooler side of the color wheel in your interiors is a great way to revamp your home, create mood, illusions of space, and tie a room together with a tasteful palette. . From ocean blues evoking the sea to mossy, forest greens, a cool color palette can create feelings of serenity and calm thanks to their strong connection to the natural world.
“Cool colors can create incredibly soothing combinations – ideal for anyone who feels most relaxed surrounded by the cool colors of nature,” says Charlotte Cosby, Chief Creative Officer at Farrow & Ball. “They’re also great for contrasting with brighter shades to set them back.”
“Choosing color palettes that follow the rhythms of the season and draw inspiration from nature will always work,” says interior designer Abigail Ahern, whose cool schemes are often moody, dark, but alluring – using dark plum , gray-blue and dark green paint color ideas. “Using soothing, restorative paint colors and adding a few uplifting, energizing accents can promote creativity, balance, and an overall sense of well-being.”
Here we round up some of the best ways to create a cool color scheme for your home.
What are some cool color schemes?
According to color theory, the color wheel is divided into warm colors and cool colors. On this side of the spectrum you can find greens, blues, purples – evocative of nature, water and sky. On the contrasting side of the wheel, you’ll find the warm colors that theoretically complement these cool tones. Cool colors are also not overwhelming like warm color combinations can sometimes be, so you can use them in a way that creates a feeling of space and openness.
Adopting a cool color palette is about how you work these tones together, adding a complementary tone in a cool palette to enhance colors or using cool undertones on a neutral or white background. It’s about using theory and the wheel to shape your interiors in a smart and cohesive way.
1. Blue and white
The wheel’s cool color is blue, a bold primary color with strong water connotations. When paired with white, the boldness of blue is accentuated and the seaside connotations are accentuated. It is a popular color combination frequently used in coastal properties, such as Hamptons style decor which is famous for its use of blue and white to bring the outdoors in and connect the location of the house with the scheme and the interiors. This project has an ocean view in Stinson Beach, CA, which was a key consideration for the interior designer and founder of Skornicka designs and construction (opens in a new tab)Susan Skornicka.
“We designed a seaside color story,” says Susan. “We incorporated different shades of blue into the textiles and artwork, creating a harmonious connection with the ocean.
“We chose light textured walls and soft sand colored furniture to connect with the natural surroundings and adorned the wall with a wave-like organic wood sculpture, creating a flow from the outside in. ‘inside.’
Green is another color on the cooler side of the color wheel. When warmed with yellow it can feel warmer, otherwise the dark blue tones cool it down and add depth. It may seem dark and sultry, yet vibrant and optimistic at the same time.
“This house is Brooklyn Brownstone and filled with color,” says the interior designer Ellen Hamilton (opens in a new tab). “In Brooklyn, we call the ground floor the garden level. Green is for the garden – there is very little natural light here but that makes it cozy. It’s a cheerful green that brings life to a low-light space and is reminiscent of grass.
Purple is another cool color on the wheel, but has a red undertone, which means it can be used versatile, either warmed up with the addition of more reds, or cooled down by adding blues.
In this scheme by designer, Nina Magon (opens in a new tab), using different color tones brings in those warmer and cooler contrasts, and gray works for a great neutral base. The effect is that the bedroom becomes a retreat space, encouraging calm and serenity. Purple living room ideas are also gaining popularity for this reason. “Clients were looking for a modern home with plenty of natural light,” says Nina.
“With this bedroom for our client’s daughter, we wanted to incorporate an accent wall that features a fun yet sophisticated color to create stylish drama,” says Nina. “We took it a step further and applied two different shades of purple mixed with a light gray in an upholstered geometric wall unit that not only creates visual texture and interest for the wall behind her bed, but also creates a focal point for the room. ‘
“Different shades of cool purple play off each other to highlight geometric shapes and create individual moments across the wall design,” she adds.
Although brown can have a reddish undertone, making it a good addition to a warm color scheme, if it has gray undertones or hints of blue or purple, it can create a dark, earthy scheme. This Abigail Ahern paint color, Black, is cool and thoughtful, with undertones that catch the light differently and mean your room changes throughout the day. Again, the brown tone has strong ties to nature.
‘This paint color, Black, is the color of the earth after a downpour. It is a deeply intense muddy shade with purplish plum undertones and undertones. Beautifully moody, its warmth and softness make it a super soothing option for living rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms,” says Abigail.
5. Black and white
For a stark contrast, a monochrome palette works here to create a refreshing black and white living room idea. This design is by a French interior designer based in London, William Alain (opens in a new tab) and it is a minimalist, elegant and sophisticated interior.
This effect is pretty much what negative white space says as much as jet black, with the ratios tilted in favor of the white space and the black fireplace, bookcase, and wall art providing the contrast.
For a warm and cool color palette, there are many colors that go with gray and work well in many rooms. Gray can be a fairly neutral base, as it easily absorbs many shades, which means it’s flexible and easy to work with. Add warmer tones and the gray is completely different from a gray with diluted hues of gray, blue, green. In this example from Farrow & Ball (opens in a new tab)Down Pipe gray has been painted on the moldings and door for a soaking and cocooning feel.
The color is a dark lead gray, with blue undertones that deepen the complexity. Originally inspired by the color used to paint downspouts and gutters, it was adopted for the interior of the home.
7. Indigo Blue
Go for a monochromatic scheme with floor-to-ceiling indigo blue for a fresh color combination. Located in the bucolic village of Pound Ridge, New York, this 1850s farmhouse is designed by white arrow (opens in a new tab)received a full restoration.
The small American farmhouse kitchen had walls removed to bring in more natural light, and a dark indigo blue was painted on the walls and custom Shaker cabinets give an English home feel. Authentic British design details can be found throughout the house, along with a mix of new and salvaged antique fixtures.
8. Mint Green
Refreshing and light, yet playful and full of energy at the same time, mint green is an iteration of pure green and can be a great refreshing color to paint your room, while maintaining positive energy.
“Where a rich hue can be overwhelming in a large space and a pale neutral can seem sterile, a muted or pastel hue such as mint can add warmth and color without being overpowering,” says Helen Shaw, director at Benjamin Moore. In this flight (opens in a new tab) kitchen, dark blue cabinets were chosen as a color to go with mint green, keep the color scheme fresh.
Which pieces work best for a cool color scheme?
When considering a cool color palette, think about natural light and the mood of the room, encourages Ellen Hamilton.
‘What is the natural lighting in the room. Or in the case of many brownstone houses or townhouses, consider the absence of light,” Ellen explains.
“You have light in the front, light in the back, and two solid walls on either side of the room when you’re in the townhouse. So working with light or lack of light is always something that comes to mind. The second thing is what is the vibe – what kind of vibe or feeling am I trying to create here,” she adds.
“I like the idea of a cool bathroom because blue and green specifically refer to water, so I think that’s great.” I really like dark rooms for TV rooms or family rooms where people hang out at night. I really like a dark teal or navy blue and a saturated blue can look really good.
“I think deep, cool color combinations lend themselves to rooms that are night-time and where there’s a total absence of natural light.”
“Living rooms can also be cool, but create a different vibe. A pale blue bedroom is beautiful, especially if you have an outside view or can see a bit of the sky.
Also think about the direction your room faces, suggests Charlotte Cosby, creative lead at Farrow & Ball, as cooler shades can be colors to avoid in a north-facing room.
“In east-facing rooms, embracing the cooler evening light with light blues and greens can have a beautifully soft and soothing effect – like Pale Powder or Teresa’s Green.” Both will retain some warmth into the evening with their subtle green undertone. Using soft, pale or cooler tones on the walls of a south-facing room is also a great way to maximize the feeling of light and space. Blues, like Pavilion Blue and Borrowed Light, creating an almost aquatic feel.