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When you enter a room with warmth, you feel welcomed, especially when the room is in someone’s home or business. When you enter a room that has warmth in your own home, you feel cozy and relaxed. This feeling is your goal for your house and is why it’s important to add warmth to every room, especially the social ones.
Making a room look warmer can include anything from your walls to your lighting to your upholstery. There is an abundance of ways to add warmth, but you should balance using warm colors with neutrals. Too many warm colors in a small room could give it a dark, cave-like feel.
In this article, we’ll review the basics of warm colors. Then we’ll share 18 strategies you can use to add warmth to most rooms in your home. After perusing our suggestions, look around your rooms to decide which tactics might work for each space.
Which Colors Are Considered Warm?
You usually find colors in one of three categories. Those categories are warm, cool, and neutral. The two types of colors we’re focusing on for this topic are warm and neutral. Warm colors include any variations of reds, oranges, and yellows. Blacks, grays, browns, tans, and whites are considered neutral colors.
When decorating, following the 80/20 rule would be best. That means your room will be using neutral hues in 80% of your room. The remaining 20% will be warm-colored accents. You can flex the ratio depending on the size of your space. The larger the room, the more warm accents you can incorporate into it.
Add Warmth Using Your Walls & Ceiling
There are several ways to use your walls and ceiling to add warmth to your room. If you’re up to it, you could paint one wall or all of them. You could even paint your ceiling in something other than white. Painting may be more of a commitment than you want, but you should consider it if you’re up for it.
1. Wall Color
A fresh coat of paint will renew and refresh your room without fail. If you have a large room, then you could go with warm color paint. It’s best not to choose something too bold for your walls because they shouldn’t be your room’s focal point. Instead, you can choose a lighter or muted shade of yellow, something that emulates sunshine.
If your room is on the smaller side, then it may be best to go with a neutral color for your walls. Shades of tan and brown are neutral, but they pair well with warm colors. The smaller the room, the more light you will want to make the room feel larger.
2. Single Accent Wall
If one wall is the room’s focal point, it would be an excellent candidate to become an accent wall. This wall may house a piece of artwork, a fireplace, a television, or something else that is noteworthy. If you don’t have a wall that’s a perfect candidate, then you can do a little rearranging to change that.
Painting one wall is less work than painting a whole room. If the rest of your walls are neutral, you could paint your accent wall red for a pop of color. For a light-colored room, you might choose a neutral color that’s either darker or lighter than the other walls. For example, a room with light tan walls could use a dark brown accent wall.
3. Wall Mural
A mural is another way to create an accent wall. Although you could hire an artist to paint a masterpiece for you in your home, a peel and stick mural would be the simpler and more affordable option. Although they usually come in sections, installing a wall-sized decal is usually a two-person job.
There are many options for room-size wall decals to match the style of your home. For example, this highly-rated wall26 Grunge Red Brick Wall Background would make the perfect accent wall for an industrial-style room while adding warmth with its rich brick-red tones. This product is a peel and stick mural, so no glue is required. It is also repositionable and leaves no residue behind if you decide to remove it someday.
4. Ceiling Color
For many homeowners, the idea of painting their ceilings never even occurs to them. No matter the size of your room or your ceilings’ height, there is a shade of paint that will add warmth to your home. Watch this video, where savvy interior designer, Kim Smart, explains how to choose a paint color for your 5th wall:
Kim shared the best tip to paint your ceiling the same color as your walls but making the ceiling shade 50% lighter. The trick with using a lighter shade of the same paint color for the ceiling will prevent the room from having that cave-like feeling. She also suggests that you paint the ceiling an ivory color if you’ve filled the room with warm tones.
Use Window Treatments To Add Warm Colors and Natural Light
There are several factors you likely consider when choosing your window treatments for any room. Most people would like to let some light in during the day while maintaining their privacy when it gets dark. It is certainly possible to achieve both of these goals and still add some warmth to your room. Here’s how.
5. Sheer Panels
Sheer curtain panels are perfect for letting natural light into your room and giving you sufficient privacy during the day. When it’s dark out, translucent panels might not offer you the privacy you desire. For this reason, you should use both sheer and blackout panels to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Choose neutral-colored sheer panels and warm or neutral blackout panels. Hang your curtains with the sheers in the center and the blackout panels on either side. This way, you can close the blackout curtains most of the way in the evening. Although curtain panels are usually sold individually or by the pair, you can also find pre-matched sets, like these BONZER Mix and Match Curtains. Rated 4.8 out of 5 stars, this drapery set makes choosing new curtains easy.
6. Light-Filtering Fabric Shades
Fabric shades come in various styles, such as pleated, roman, and balloon. Light-filtering shades allow some light to go through. Depending on your fabric shades’ color, the light that filters through can add warmth to your room. To achieve this effect, you will want to choose fabric in a warm color, such as reds, oranges, and yellows, or in a neutral color, like ivory, tan, or brown.
Linen Avenue’s Top Down Bottom Up Light Filtering Shades are perfect examples of fabric shades that can add warmth to your room. It comes in several neutral colors and has a slew of custom dimension options. These cordless shades can be lowered at the top and raised at the bottom, offering you additional privacy. Based on 159 customer ratings, these shades have an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 possible stars.
7. Faux Stained Glass
Faux stained glass is an excellent alternative to shades if you prefer to have privacy around the clock. Not only does this type of window accent provide privacy, but it also allows natural light to filter in, adds warmth to your room if you choose a warm or neutral design, and adds a unique design aspect to your home. There are many design options from which to choose.
This Artscape First Stained Glass Window Film is the perfect example of a mix of warm and neutral colors. What’s excellent about window films like this one is that they are just window clings and are removable. You could change the faux stained glass on your windows to go with the changing seasons, especially if you find you are in the habit of adding other seasonal accents.
Add Warmth With Wood Floors and Floor Coverings
Just like with your walls and ceiling, your floors are a significant opportunity to add warmth to your rooms. Some of the options below are more laborsome, costly, and permanent. If you are the type of person who often changes your mind, you may want to consider the less-permanent suggestion.
8. Hardwood or Laminate Floors
Whether you opt for real hardwood or laminate flooring, the rich tones of wood would add a large amount of warmth to any room. Aside from whitewashed and gray finishes, most wood stains will offer some level of warmness. Head to the hardware store to view the various shades of maple, honey pine, oak, walnut, and mahogany options.
Your lifestyle should help you decide between hardwood or laminate floors. If you have a busy household that sees high traffic, then laminate floors may be the way to go, mainly if your home includes children and pets. Laminate floors are less costly and faster to install if you like DIY home improvement projects. It also offers far more finishes than real hardwood flooring because the decorative layer in laminate flooring is a printed image with endless possibilities.
9. Wall-to-Wall Carpeting
Adding wall-to-wall carpeting is an excellent way to add warmth to your room. Not only does it contribute to the room’s mood with its color, but the plushness of carpeting also adds to the feeling of a warm, cozy, welcoming space. Like flooring, choosing the carpet type for your room will depend on your lifestyle quite a bit.
If you want something bright and neutral, Berber carpeting is exceptionally durable. Berber makes their carpet with tightly-packed fibers, so it usually isn’t as plush as other carpet types. It does hold up well to high traffic, children, and pets while being versatile enough to coordinate with most decor styles. However, if you have cats, they are prone to scratch most carpet types, and you cannot exclude Berber carpeting from this rule.
When you have your wall-to-wall carpeting installed, be sure to inquire about stain protection. Most flooring companies that handle carpet installation are likely to offer a treatment that prevents stains. If it turns out this is not the case, then treating your carpet with Scotchgard Rug & Carpet Protector is highly recommended. Spraying this product on your carpeting will block liquids, like spilled beverages or pet urine. Rather than soaking in, the liquid beads up.
10. Area Rugs
Area rugs are the easiest way to add warmth to your space. You can place throw rugs on top of your bare floors or wall-to-wall carpeting as long as you use the appropriate rug pads to keep them in place. Like with carpeting, area rugs can add warmth to both the visual appeal and your room’s mood. Throw rugs usually come in various sizes with the same design so that you can put them under your coffee table, under your dining table, next to your bed, and more.
If the main piece of furniture in the room, like your sofa or bed, is printed, choose a solid area rug. Conversely, if it is a solid color, choose a patterned area rug. If there is not already a focal point in the room, such as an accent wall, then your area rug could be just that. Some rugs are works of art. The Safavieh Glacier Collection Modern Contemporary Abstract Area Rug features warm and cool colors and makes a beautiful statement piece for your floor.
Alter the Lighting in Your Room To Create More Warmth
The type of lighting in a room influences the level of warmth significantly. Natural sunlight is the ideal type of lighting to make a room feel warm. Replicating daylight as closely as possible will offer that inviting feeling you’re seeking. Of course, that is not always possible, but there are ways to play with light-filtering lampshades and colored light bulbs to yield the desired effect.
11. Lamps and Light Fixtures
Floor lamps, table lamps, sconces, and hanging light fixtures come in various colors and materials. You can find them in wood, metal, ceramic, glass, marble, concrete, and other less common materials. Out of all these materials, lamps made of wood and glass are more likely to give off warm vibes than those made of materials known to be cold and hard.
Not all lamps and lighting fixtures have fabric shades, but those that do are an opportunity to add warmth to your room. Like curtains, light-filtering shades help shine a warm light in your room if the shade is ivory, tan, brown, red, or similar colors. These colors are usually more flattering than the light cast through orange or yellow lampshades.
12. Warm White and Colored Light Bulbs
No matter what type of lamps or light fixtures you selected for your room, if you want that warm, welcoming feel, then you should opt for soft white or warm white light bulbs. This suggestion goes for both incandescent and LED light bulbs. Warm white bulbs compliment warm tones very well. Bright white bulbs tend to cast a bluish tint on their surroundings.
LED light bulbs come in all different colors, but if you want a warm glow from your lamps and lighting fixtures, it’s best to stick with warm white or reds, oranges, and yellows. Those colors may sound a little extreme, but these amber Emotionlite LED Light Bulbs give off a pretty yellow-orange glow. These highly-rated light bulbs are compatible with dimming light fixtures. You can also opt to mix them with warm white bulbs to downplay the amber lighting.
Another option for using light bulbs to add warmth to your room is incorporating fairy lights into your decor. You could add them to the tops of your windows, around a ficus plant, or on your fireplace mantle display. Be sure to choose warm white fairy lights with wires that match the surroundings. For example, for kitchens with copper cookware, you should opt for fairy lights with copper-colored wire.
Candlelight is not just for romantic dinners for two. You can enjoy the warm glow of candles daily. You can place large clusters of candles in varying sizes and heights arranged on a tray on your coffee table, storage ottoman, dining table, buffet, console table, and even in your unused fireplace. Ivory candles are the best color option because they offer a warm glow and are versatile enough to use year-round.
If your home has pets or children, or you’re worried about fire hazards in general, then you can opt for battery-operated flameless candles. Most are very realistic looking, like these HANZIM Flameless Candles. The collection includes nine battery-operated candles in six different heights to make your display more interesting. This brand makes these remote-controlled real-wax candles with timers so you can set them to turn on at the same time every evening.
Add Warmth by Replacing or Reupholstering Existing Accents
As previously mentioned, accent pieces perform two jobs. They provide warm colors to help pull the room’s look together, and they offer a soft, welcoming feeling. When looking for a way to increase the warmness in your room, it would be a good idea to replace some hard, unwelcoming accent pieces with upholstered ones.
14. Throw Pillows and Throw Blankets
Throw pillows and blankets are very easy and cost-friendly to replace. If you need more warm accents in your room, then changing the toss pillows and throws are a no-brainer. Also, adding more pillows and throws increases the perception of comfiness in your room. If you prefer things to be more orderly and dislike having pillows and throws strewn about, then neatly putting some oversized toss pillows and a throw in a wicker basket has the same effect without the clutter.
If you have quality pillows but need them to be a different color, there are no-sew ways to cover a throw pillow. One of our favorite ways to give an accent pillow a makeover is with cuddly fleece fabric. Choose a fabric color that picks up one of the colors in your sofa, rug, or drapes. This tutorial calls for two colors of fleece. You can choose two high contrasting colors or two that are similar shades. You’ll be truly amazed at how easy this DIY project is:
15. Accent Chairs and Ottomans
Accent chairs and ottomans are more costly to replace than accent pillows and throws. It seems that the larger they are, the higher the price point. If you cannot afford to replace these upholstery pieces, then you may consider recovering them in a fabric that will add warmth to your home. Wooden armchairs with removable backs and seats aren’t too difficult to recover with new material and a staple gun. Stuffed armchairs may require a professional.
Now reupholstering an ottoman is a bit easier, even if it is tufted. A storage ottoman is another story because it has the added complication of lining both the top and bottom interior. To recover a regular ottoman, all you need is fabric, a loaded staple gun, scissors, and perhaps a pair of pliers to remove stubborn staples.
If recovering your ottoman sounds like a bit too much work for you, then you might consider buying a slipcover. Ottoman slipcovers are not expensive. This Flamingo P Stretch Ottoman Cover is affordable and easy to put on. Although you will lose the tufted details of your original ottoman, this slipcover stretches to give you a tailored fit. It also comes in many warm and neutral colors and is machine-washable.
New Accents Pieces To Add Warmth and Style to Your Room
If your room is just blah and you feel like it needs a centerpiece of sorts, then you may need to make a more dramatic addition. Sometimes you need one thing that draws the eye to it when you walk into a room. Here are a few ideas for how to add a little drama and warmth to your room.
16. Faux Fireplace or Wood Stove
Many houses have one or more fireplaces, whether the homeowner uses them or not. They are just often built into rooms as the centerpieces. If you’ve ever wished your room had a fireplace, there are electric fireplaces you can add to your home. Some require you to cut a hole in your wall to insert the unit for a more realistic look. Some faux fireplaces hang on your wall like a flat-screen TV for a more modern look.
The third option for a faux fireplace is this SEI Furniture Calvert Electric Carved Floral Trim Fireplace or something similar. This unit comes in a light-colored ivory option and a dark espresso option. A space heater disguised as a fireplace, this popular item has been rated 4.6 out of 5 possible stars by 377 customers. You need only place this fireplace in the desired spot without performing construction or deconstruction of any kind.
If you can describe your room as rustic or even industrial, you may want to opt for a faux wood stove instead of a fireplace. Wood stoves have a charm that fireplaces cannot touch. The remote-controlled Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove would make the best conversation piece, especially in cinnamon red, although it comes in several other neutral colors. This highly-rated attractive unit is a space heater that has an auto-shutoff safety feature.
17. Replace Coffee Table With a Cocktail Ottoman
An upholstered cocktail ottoman will always exude more warmth than a coffee table made of wood, stone, concrete, and glass on metal. The key to turning your cocktail ottoman into an attention-grabber is creating a display on it. Start with a tray or a shallow bowl. Then fill it with a mix of large, visually exciting fillers. These can include rattan balls, pillar or ball candles, pinecones, succulents, coffee table books, and more.
18. Artwork and Photographs
Two types of wall art will never fail to bring warmth to your room. The first is original or replicated artwork in dramatically warm colors that evoke emotions like friendship, romance, passion, and bliss. Of course, art is subjective, but if a piece speaks to you, then it is the right one for your home. The subject matter is secondary to the colors and the feelings evoked.
The second is photographs of your household members and pets will bring more warmth to your room than any professional pictures ever could. Add a sepia or another warm tint, enlarge them to poster size, and have them printed and framed. You could also have the photos printed on canvas without a frame. Hang them in a series on one wall to create a centerpiece for your room that has personal significance.
These 18 ways to make your room look warmer are not all for everyone. You must choose the right ones for you based on your taste, your budget, and which room you want to work on first. You will need to decide if you want the majority of your room warm or only to incorporate warm accents throughout based on your room’s size. Ultimately, you and your household members are the ones who must decide if the room feels warm and welcoming to you.
- Apartment Therapy: What Are Cool and Warm Colors and What’s the Best Way to Use Them?
- Usability.gov: Color Basics
- Wikipedia: Accent Wall
- Woodworking Trade: 7 Types of Wood Finishes – Woodworking Guide 101
- FlooringInc.com: Berber Carpet Buying Guide
- Hunker: What Does Daylight, Cool & Warm Mean in Light Bulbs?
- The Spruce: How to Use Warm Colors in Interior Design
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.