Coastal Harmony: Balancing Cool and Warm Tones in Your Summer Home

By Abby Henthorn

by ELYSIAN Magazine

Your coastal summer home is a place of relaxation and enjoyment, a place of tranquility that makes you slow down and appreciate the little things. Decorating these homes requires careful consideration to ensure your home harmonizes with the ocean, sandy beaches, and sunlit landscapes, and finding the balance between cool and warm color palettes can be tricky. Both palettes can capture the essence of coastal living in distinct ways, but oftentimes, striking the right balance between the two is the key to a beautifully cohesive summer home. 

For a good reason, people usually imagine cool tones when picturing a beach home. Cool tones include blues, greens, and purples, which often represent the colors of the sea and sky. By incorporating these colors into your seaside getaway, you mirror the surrounding landscape and bring the calming vibes of the beach inside your home. According to Color Psychology, “cool colors provide a sense of calm and relaxation” and “evoke a sense of health, tranquility, and wisdom.” You’ll often find smaller spaces painted with cool tones, as they can make a room feel larger and more open. Soft blues and greens are great options for bedroom walls if you want to move away from white but don’t want to overwhelm the space. 

Though warm tones aren’t always what people gravitate toward when decorating a beach house, they remind us of a sunlit landscape and evoke feelings of warmth and happiness. Colors such as yellows, oranges, and corals are inviting pops of color in spaces like living rooms and kitchens. Color Psychology tells us that because “these colors advance toward the eye, they work well in large spaces to make them feel cozy and secure.” These tones also encourage social behavior and productivity, so adding them to a space meant for gathering will ensure lively conversation. 

While cool and warm tones offer distinct vibes, balancing the two is essential to create a cohesive and visually appealing summer home. The 80-20 rule is a classic that many interior designers use to help find the balance between neutral tones and pops of color. It suggests using neutral and more subdued tones for 80% of your space and then bringing in pops of color or accent colors for 20%. This doesn’t mean you can only use two colors, as designer Artem Kropovinsky explained to Homes and Gardens, “You can choose any neutral colors to make up the 80%, and any accent color as the 20%.” 

This balancing rule brings a ton of different combinations – a neutral wall color, some natural elements such as woven rugs and cotton or linen fabrics to add various textures to your space, and then pops of navy or orange in throw pillows or lamps, for instance. Designers suggest starting with a backdrop of white to ensure the light and airy summer feeling and then adding warm tones in accent pieces, natural woods, or fun finishes such as copper or brass. You can also introduce warm tones through various textures, such as a wooden cutting board for your table. Cool tones work wonderfully in bedrooms, and with a soft white base of linen bedding, a neutral rug, and a pale blue or green accent wall or wallpaper can add a charming element that inspires peace and relaxation. 

When adding unique elements to your summer home, natural textures and fabrics can bring the breezy, carefree vibe that ties your room together. Jane from Jane at Home suggests that “rustic woods, warm bamboo, rattans, and earthy elements are key to a beach-inspired look,” and introducing textiles such as jute, linen, and cotton create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere for you and your guests. Because these elements are often tan, white, or another neutral color, you still have room to add colorful details and layer color and texture to create a cohesive and visually pleasing space. 

Balance is vital in interior design, and when decorating coastal summer homes with cool and warm tones as well as beachy neutrals and natural elements, you can create spaces that reflect the essence of beachfront living and craft a coastal sanctuary. By combining the serenity of cool tones with the vibrancy of warm tones, your coastal summer home will become a dreamy oasis where relaxation and happiness go hand in hand. 

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