I first learned that cool colors actually made you feel colder when I was fourteen years old. I wanted a blue bedroom, and my mother obliged me. At first I was delighted – the powder blue room went well with my Renoir print, and the white eyelet curtains were just frilly enough for my young girlish heart. But then the Iowan winter set in – brrrrr! It wasn’t long before I began to wonder why my blue room was so much colder than the pink room I’d had before.
The answer was simple: cool colors make us feel colder. While the temperature in the room was no different, I felt emotionally different, so I felt colder. Just imagine if I had gone from a warm terracotta color to that icy blue! I would have thought for sure that there was some plot to freeze me out!
Now, of course, we realize that this is so, and we can use paint tricks to our advantage. While painting a bedroom a warmer or cooler color will only help you when you have the lights on (as my husband was to discover when we painted our bedroom from a warm tan to a cool green – he was hoping to cool down the bedroom as it is the one closest to the thermostat) changing the paint color can help a great deal when dealing with rooms you use often. This is especially important now as we are all trying to do our part in reducing energy consumption and help preserve the environment.
Of course, few of us want to paint the rooms in our homes brick red to warm them up in the winter or icy blue to cool them down in the summer. Luckily, you don’t have to go that far to see results.
First, identify your problem rooms. For example, if the north side of your home is always cold in the winter, then you know this area might benefit from a warmer paint color. Unless you want a dramatic color, which of can be quite lovely, you can still obtain good effects from choosing a neutral color that is on the warm end of the color spectrum. We laugh about how many shades of white are available, but actually there are as many shades of white – or any color – as you can imagine. That is because you could take white – or any neutral color – and blend in just enough of a warm, undertone color to give the neutral color the warmth you seek. Apricot is a good choice to mix in with cream for warmth while blue is a good choice to mix in with white if you want to cool the room down.
Another approach is to try brightening a dark room which will also give the illusion of warmth. Yellows work wonders for brightening a room. If you have a room that faces north that has a window, try painting it yellow. The natural window light will cause the color to jump! On the other hand, a cool green will refresh a room that gets too warm during the summer months and can even darken an overly bright room.
It is a good idea to purchase your paint from a paint store rather than a home improvement center if you plan on mixing colors in this way. That is because home improvement stores are less likely to accept returns of paint that don’t work for you or to “doctor” the paint if you want more of the cool or hot component added. However, whether you decide to purchase your paint from a paint store or a home improvement center, it is a good idea to check with the store before buying about the return policy.