Color Selection: Warm and Cool Color Groups

Color selection and knowing how to choose colors can be tricky. In creating color groups, some people can make it look effortless.  Knowing about warm and cool colors can make it easier to select colors for home decor or a wardrobe so that everything seems to go together in a complimentary way.  There's a few things about color selection that can help anyone create color groups that are nice to look at.

Much of what I do uses the basic concept of warm and cool colors. I usually use colors that are in the same group, either cool or warm, when I plan a room, wardrobe or artwork. Even the colors I choose for a home exterior are related in this same way. The basic concept that colors fall into either warm or cool groups makes using color much easier.

The key element is whether a color base or cast has a yellow or blue tone. More easily, this might be seen as a silver or golden tint in the color. So if choosing a red, there may be a warm red tomato with a yellow tone or a cool blue toned cherry red instead. In selecting blues, a warm blue might be teal, a cool blue might be a light frosty blue. Lime green is a warm and forest green is cool with a blue undertone.

Colors can also be then grouped further by their saturate or brightness and contrast. Colors that are bright, clear and have high contrast are different from colors that are softer, muted or dusty in quality.

If we take the two color groups of warm and cool, then break those down into clear bright colors or muted softer colors, we will have four groups to choose from as shown above.  The principle of warm and cool color groups is an old one.  It shows up in fashion books during the 1920's.  During the 1980's it gained popularity as the "Seasonal Color" group for wardrobe planning.  The color groups were named for the seasons with Winter being the cool and clear color group, Summer was cool and muted, Spring was warm and clear, and Autumn was warm and muted.  Those names made the colors easy to remember.  Other colorists have given them different names, but in general the concept remains the same

Blue or silver undertones

Jewel Colors: ruby red, sapphire blue, emerald green, topaz yellow, icy white pearl
Metal Tones: silver, platinum, brushed silver
Crayon Colors: red, blue, green, yellow-green, blue-purple
Darks: blue-black, wine, deep cherry red, dark forest green
Contrast: black, sharp winter white
Neutrals: black-brown, deep gray, dark navy

Dusty Tones: rose red, foggy blue, dusty blue-green, taupe gray
Soft Tones: baby boy blue, baby girl pink, pale yellow
Metal Tones: brushed silver, pewter
Contrast: charcoal gray and gray-white
Neutrals: taupe, cocoa brown, slate gray

Yellow, silver or bronze undertones

Florals: bright pink, leaf green, daisy yellow, sky blue, iris purple, aqua
Metal Tones: gold, brushed gold
Fruity Brights: orange juice, lemonade, lime, tomato red, grape purple
Contrast: deep navy and warm white
Neutrals: golden tan, warm brown,

Spicy Tones: paprika, mustard, saffron, oregano, pepper, salt
Metal Tones: bronze, copper, rose gold, stone
Fall Tones: autumn red, amber yellow, olive green, bark brown. peacock blue
Desert Tones: sandy brown, turquoise, teal blue, rust red, sage green, camel tan
Contrast: chocolate brown and muslin white

One way to see if you have a preference is to look at your home.  What colors do you see the most?  If you like them, then that is a clue as you will notice others in the same color group.  It is also interesting to look in your closet to see what colors are most popular in your tops and Ts.  What do you wear the most?  Looking at how to use more colors in the same group will expand your use of color, yet keep it complimentary by working with only warm or cool colors.

Next, you will want read "How to Choose Colors for a Travel Wardrobe" and find out how to use warm and cool colors to create a travel wardrobe.  By using colors from a fabric swatch, you can build an easy to wear selection of fashion pieces from the same warm or cool color group that you find most flattering.