Some Like it Hot, Warm and Cool

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove
November 30, 2014

Whenever I’ve talked about warm and cool color palettes in the past, I’ve always said you need to choose one or the other. If you want a more intimate, cozy space, decorate in warm reds, yellows, oranges and warm neutrals like beige and gold.

If you want a more open, calming feeling, go for cooler blues, greens, grays, whites and silvers. However, if you do it correctly, you can certainly mix your color temperatures — for a subtle and more interesting effect. Generally, warmer colors are social colors that are great for gathering places like living rooms and kitchens. That’s why reds and yellows work well here.

Bedrooms are private spaces where you want serenity and calmness, so people go for soothing blues and grays. In this bedroom, I decided to mix temperatures. Although a cool, serene feel is great, it’s also nice to mix in warmth for some intimacy, don’t you think?

People’s tastes change even as you’re working on their homes. This master bedroom was the last room I decorated in my clients’ house. But the window treatments were one of the first things chosen for the entire home. And I knew by the time we returned to the bedroom, that my clients wanted a space that was relaxing, yet also eclectic and modern.

Photo by Justin Dotson

Photo by Justin Dotson

I decided to keep it simple. I started with our warm, neutral palette of off-white walls and natural woven window treatments, whose soft gold tied in with the beige carpets. Neutrals are continued in the bedding, but here they turn cool in the soft gray and white of a padded head-board and crisp white duvet.

Bringing in other deep, cool neutrals in the charcoal accents in the sofa, on the bedding and in the sham grounded and gave depth to the space. All these popped off the warm accent rug I added under the bed as the focal point. And it’s the burnt orange in the area rug and accent pillows that bring warmth and sensuality to the bedroom.

Notice any more temperature mixes? If you see them in the metals, give yourself a pat on the back! The bedside lamps are a cool silver, while the floor lamp is a warm oil-rubbed bronze, as are the legs on the side table.

So mixing warm and cool color palettes in this bedroom creates a serene, relaxing environment that’s also warm, sexy and inviting. Now that’s a good mix!

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.