In decorating parlance, "cool" indicates a room's visual temperature not its innate hipness. "Cool" describes a room that feels restful, laid-back, and understated, and it's almost always achieved through color. Here's how the pick the "cool" colors, whether it's for your bedroom, kitchen, or another space in your home. Plus, check out our picks for cool paint colors.
In hot-weather climates, people create cool rooms for comfort, but no matter where you live, cool is a popular aesthetic because it is often passive: Designing a cool space is a great way to feature the people or collections or artwork in it. A room filled with attention-getting reds or yellows is never described as "cool," and it wouldn't make a good gallery. On the other hand, rooms filled with crisp whites, grays, and pale blues take on a decidedly chill mood, and people take center stage. It's no coincidence the hues come from cold things, such as snow and steel. Just as warm tones are fiery hues, alternately so are cool ones. Think ice cubes, winter skies, and the shades of mouth-watering sorbets to arrive at a "cool" palette.
Decide how you want to dive in and start with our cool paint color picks to help you create your look. Note: Actual colors may appear differently than on screen. Always consult paint color chips. Palettes designed by Khristian A. Howell.
In a cool living room, wall colors could be any number of light and airy pastel shades, such as lilac and mint. If you prefer a more intense, saturated shade that's still cool, pull from the blue, gray, and green families. Choose a black or gray sofa, fill in with a chrome-and-glass coffee table, and add a few pillows in neutral textures to complete the serene scene.
A bedroom that feels cool will be a restful, spa-like space. Layers of frothy white bedding, from sheets to pillows to blankets and duvets, will create an irresistible meringue of a bed. A vintage rug with faded floral colors or a wood bedside table with distressed blue paint would also suit the scheme. To control daylight, choose white blinds or shades, or cotton curtains in sky, violet, or mint.
No matter the occasion, a dining room dressed in cool shades will highlight the people and the food. A backdrop of cashmere gray, periwinkle blue, or cloud white on the walls doesn't compete with the animated faces of family and friends, and a dining table that's painted white or stained dove gray will set off the food. Sage-green silk draperies or a thick charcoal-color rug underfoot adds a layer of luxurious comfort.
To offset some of the hot, hard work that occurs in a kitchen, decorate it in cool shades. They'll not only lower the visual temperature, but they appear clean, which is always a plus. White or gray kitchen cabinets are the coolest backdrop. Choose countertops and backsplash materials that have similar hushed tones, such as concrete, stone, or stainless steel. Metal fixtures, such as lighting, faucets, and hardware, should be picked from the cool shades of chrome, nickel, or flat black. For wall colors, borrow from an array of refreshing foods, such as cucumber, sour cream, and sorbet.
It's not hard to create a cool bathroom, where white porcelain fixtures are commonplace. Look to cool hues in the natural environment to balance these factory-made elements. Slate gray, sky blue, and marsh green are pale paint choices, whereas shady mushroom and moss green are more intense versions. Or, add overt links to the natural world with a pebble base for the shower, birch-bark-pattern wallpaper, or framed photos of waterfalls, wintry landscapes, or wooded trails.
Use cool colors in an entryway to impart a serene welcome. Since these hues also hang back, they make an excellent backdrop for showcasing art in an entryway. Draw on cool colors from adjacent spaces to connect this passageway space to the rooms beyond.