The effects of cold colors in interior design

We are halfway into fall, its colors are disappearing and leave the place to colder colors. Blue, green, grey, and white are showing up in nature, cities and sky while winter is coming. Of course, in common knowledge, cold colors are limited to blue, green and purple. But in interiors, colors are not acting exactly the same way. Let me clarify the situation and help you know about the effects of cold colors in interior design.

Which are the cold colors in interior design ?


You probably know about the chromatic circle. We all learned at school about this colorful piece, showing all colors from red to purple. It’s divided in 2 parts :

- warm colors : red, orange and yellow

- cold colors : green, blue, purple.

And somewhere around this, not even included in the circle, we have the « neutrals » : black and white.

In interior design, even if we mainly follow the same rule, I would organize the colors a bit differently. Firstly, all colors are at the same level. Black, white and grey are considered as much colors as the others. And then, colors will not be oragnized just by their place on the chromatic circle but also considering the effect they have, both on our feelings and on our perception of the space.

In my opinion, I will use colors as follow :

- warm colors : red, orange, yellow and purple

- cold colors : blue, green, white, grey

neutral : black

Create an atmosphere with cold colors

Speaking about creating an atmosphere, our perception is based on our memories, on what we’ve already
seen and what we are used to
. For exemple, I’ve chosen to take the purple out of the cold colors because it’s more likely related to the red and often used with pink. We don’t see much purple in nature during winter either, if there is any.


Blue is of course the true color illustrating the cold: blue of ice, blue of the ocean,…By this idea of water, it’s easy to take the step towards hygiene, cleanliness and tranquility.

Green is connected to nature, greenery and all the freshness of the moss in the woods. Well-being and relaxation are next on the list...closely followed by health.

As for the white and grey, it’s easy to connect them with the cold of the snow and the cold of iron. Both really clean, cold, hygienic. Medicine is not far in our minds. That’s probably why the huge, modern, white and uncluttered spaces are often giving an uncomfortable feeling of emptiness and an idea of something impersonal.

If perception of colors is subject to a common interpretation, it’s still a very personnal feeling, depending on your own story.


Cold colors and visual effect

Colors have an effect on how we see the space. Some will make a wall looks closer to you when another will make it looks at a distance. This is how it works :

When painting a all room in the same color, the cold ones will make the space looks bigger than warm colors. That’s a fact. Warm colors will take volumes closer to you when cold colors will put some distance.

But there will be a clear difference depending of the brightness of the color. It’s not because the walls are blue that they will make the space looks bigger. If you choose a light blue, close to white, you will surely get the effect. But if you choose a dark blue, it will make the room looks smaller anyway. Just a bit less than a dark red.

If you want to paint only one wall in a cold color and keep the rest of the room in white, note that the wall painted in color will look closer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cold color or not. Next to the white, all colors tend to make volumes closer to you. Once again, the effect will only be softer with cold colors than warm colors.

I’m speaking about walls but it’s important to say that all these visual effects are working for the ceiling too, or any other volumes in your home.



How cold colors influence your mood

Even if there is no proper scientific explanations, colors have an effect on our mood and mindset. They will create feelings and even biological reactions which are important to keep in mind when deciding the color of a room.


Blue will make you relax, feeling calm. It’s a good color for a room where you want to rest, to have some peace and quiet.

Green will provide harmony, comfort and a good balance of energy. It’s known to be a stress-relief and revitalising color.

White is giving the feeling of cleanliness and brightness. It gives energy and motivation.

Grey is relaxing and will drive you to laziness.

All the cold colors tend to give a relaxing feeling. But, like for food, excess is never good. Having too much of one tone can create a negative effect. It can be by rising your level of stress (white), making you feel cold (blue) or even depressed (green).


It’s all about nuance

In interior design, it’s all about finding the balance.

All the explanations above are an easy start in the wide science of colors. When making a choice, cold and warm are just the beginning and all these rules can be turned around by changing the tone, brightness or saturation of one or several colors. It’s also important to keep in mind that the effect of a color can be increased or reduced depending of the other colors you put next to it. The atmosphere of a room with cold colors can become very welcoming and cosy by finding the perfect balance in the color palette.


Hopefully you won’t be discourage by this huge amount of informations ! If that is the case, I’m here to help you choosing what’s right for your home. Just give me a shout right here, and we will make the all situation much clearer :)

If you have any general questions (or not general !) about colors, ask in the comments below. Knowing about colors is great and it’s an endless game as you can use it in so many fields like drawing, painting or even with your clothes. Don’t miss your chance to learn all about it :)

Hope to hear from you !

Have a great day