Our Guide to Balancing Warm + Cool Tones

A few things you should know about the undertones of your home.

08 December 2021 -

Good design is all about balance…

and whether you’re repainting a room or choosing your bedding, considering the colors or tones of each element or piece can make all the difference in the final result.

The balance or imbalance of warm or cool tones in your space can completely change how it feels. Even in designs with a neutral palette, undertones in wood finishes and hardware need to work together to create a dimensional and cohesive look.

We love mixing warm and cool tones in our projects to create more interest, but it can be tricky to know where to start in your own space.

In this post, we’re sharing more about our approach to mixing warm and cool tones and a few tips on simplifying the process.

From our Pine Brook Home

From our Beckham Project

Warm tones vs. cool tones

Before you can start balancing the tones in your space like a pro, it’s helpful to step back and understand the different impacts they can have on your design.

Warm tones (reds, oranges, browns, yellows, golds, beige, and whites with creamy undertones) are stimulating, and while they can make your space feel cozy and inviting, too many of them in one area can create a closed-in, stuffy feeling.

Cool tones (blues, greens, purples, grays, silvers, and whites with grey undertones) are calming and have a modern, clean effect. However, too many cool tones in one space can make a design feel cold and unwelcome.

Whites can be warm or cool depending on the undertones, and since black is neither warm nor cool, it can be a great element to add balance to your space.

From our Moody & Bright Netflix Remodel

From The McGee Home

From our Historic Netflix Kitchen Remodel

From our Midcentury Loft Netflix Remodel

Mixing warm + cool tones 

While your space may lean towards one or the other, adding layers of contrast and blending warm and cool tones together is part of what makes a room feel curated and thoughtful. 

If you’re drawn to one particular element or finish, remember that sometimes too much of the same element can get lost. 

From our Northridge Remodel

From our Rye NY Project

From our Open & Bright Netflix Bath Remodel

From The Home on The Ranch

Finding your jumping-off point 

Finding a jumping-off point for mixing warm and cool tones can make getting started less overwhelming.

Whether you’re choosing hard finishes like flooring and light fixtures or soft finishes like furniture and decor pieces, consider what you have selected or own already, and evaluate the tones coming through. Are they warm or cool?

Once you have a jumping-off point, it’s easier to find ways to layer and contrast to create more interest.

From our AZ Homestead Project

From our Open & Airy Netflix Kitchen Remodel

From The Home on The Ranch

From The Sunset House

Adding dimension through contrasting pieces  

Furniture and decor can be a great way to bring in contrasting tones to your finishes, too.

Adding leather chairs to a moody, cool-toned lounge space can instantly make the room feel inviting, while cool-toned barstools in a kitchen with gold lighting and hardware can refresh the space and bring balance.

From The McGee Home

From The Crestview House 

From The Home on The Ranch

From our Beckham Project

Can you see the warm and cool elements in these spaces? Keep scrolling for more examples!

From our Modern Bohemian Netflix Remodel

From our PC Contemporary Project

From The McGee Home

From The Sunset House

Date Posted
08 December 2021