Difference between Warm and Cool Colors

April 10, 2017 by Editorial Team

Many people say that you should incorporate warm and cool colors when decorating, but a lot of people also say that it is perfectly fine to stick with just cool or just warm colors. What is the difference between these two groups of colors?

Descriptions

Warm vs Cool Colors

Warm colors are colors that have orange, red, and yellow undertones (or a blend of any of the three). As the name suggests, these colors are closely associated with fire, heat, sunlight, or anything that is warm.

Orange, red, and yellow are daring in nature. They are considered “energetic colors” and are used by interior designers to make big spaces look more lively and comfortable. They are also called “advancing colors” because they are naturally eye-catching.

Warm colors can be appetite-stimulating. This is why most fast food restaurants use them in their logo or in their interior. Wam colors, specifically those that have a red undertone, can also be overpowering and may increase blood pressure and heart rate, and are even used to symbolize anger or intense emotions.

Warm colors are also widely used in festivals and celebrations because they typically symbolize happiness, luck, hope, and warmth. Furthermore, a piece of clothing that is in red, orange, or yellow may mean sophistication and confidence.

On the other hand, cool colors are colors that have blue or green undertones. These colors are associated with anything that is cool, such as the water and sky.

Cool colors are relaxing in nature and are perfect for making small spaces look bigger because they have the tendency to recede in space. This is also why they are called “retreating colors” by artists.

Cool colors, specifically blue, are appetite-suppressing and may be calming. Sometimes they also symbolize sadness.

Warm vs Cool Colors

What, then, is the difference between warm and cool colors?

Warm colors are colors that remind us of anything warm such as fire, heat, and sunlight. These colors have orange, red, or yellow undertones. On the other hand, cool colors are those that remind us of anything cool such has the sky and water. They have blue or green undertones.

Warm colors are bold and energetic. They can draw someone’s attention and can be overpowering. They can make a space look lively and comfortable. Conversely, cool colors are soothing and calming. They make tiny spaces look bigger because they do not attract attention.

Moreover, warm colors have appetite-stimulating effects. They may symbolize, joy, warmth, confidence, sophistication, and even may symbolize anger or intense emotions. In contrast, cool colors are believed to have appetite-suppressing effects, and may sometimes symbolize sadness.

Comparison Chart

Warm ColorsCool Colors
Colors that have orange, red, or yellow undertones (or a blend of any of the three)Colors that have blue or green undertones (or a combination)
Associated with fire, heat, sunlight, or anything that is warm; energetic colorsReminds us of water and sky; calming and relaxing colors
Called “advancing colors” because they draw attention; can be overwhelmingConsidered to be “retreating colors”
Used to make big spaces look lively and comfortable; used by restaurants because of their appetite-stimulating effect; may symbolize anger, intense emotions, happiness, celebration, hope, warmth, sophistication, and confidenceUsed to make small spaces look bigger; believed to have appetite-suppressing effects; may symbolize sadness