Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops blog! We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for everything you need to know about custom countertop materials. We provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process, as well as helpful tips for choosing the best material for your home. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops! Stonehouse Countertops carries an array of granite, marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, silestone, limestone, travertine, onyx, glass, sodalite, slate, and porcelain materials in its inventory. In addition to countertops, we offer fireplace surrounds, patios, floors, and walls. Whatever your design goals, we’re happy to help you achieve your unique vision!
Our last article serves as both an accompaniment to today’s topic and a beginner’s guide to crafting inviting spaces within your home. We detailed what “warm” means within the design realm—according to interior design experts, at least—and how the intentional use of certain materials, colors, and textures can contribute to feelings of comfort. As we stated in our last article, our surroundings play a vital role in how we feel. Personalizing our spaces goes far beyond vanity—it’s how we take care of ourselves. That’s why ‘Designing Warm Spaces’ is dedicated to the design philosophy behind warmth, which emphasizes natural materials, contrasting textures, personalization and sentimentality. We explored a recent design phenomenon known as “warm minimalism,” for those who covet a cozy home without the clutter. Finally, we delved into the specific colors, materials, and textures you might use along your journey to crafting a warm space. Our last article is chock-full of design inspiration, so we hope you’ll give it a quick read (after you’re done here)!
Today, we’re switching gears to learn more about designing cool spaces. Now, we aren’t talking about “cool,” as in too cool for school. (Although, maybe we should dedicate an article to creating a “cool kitchen”? What do you think?) Rather, just like when we refer to “warm” spaces, we’re referring to the tone associated with the space. Just as colors can be warm-toned or cool-toned, so too can entire rooms. We’re interested in exploring what makes a cool space desirable, as well as how to strike the right balance between cool tones, textures, and materials, without becoming sterile. Very few people want to live in a science lab or cook in a cafeteria kitchen. In fact, many of us veer away from designing cool spaces out of fear the end result will be too austere to live in comfortably. At the end of the day, interior design ultimately comes down to personal preference, but you shouldn’t fear the colder side of aesthetics. Rather, we’re going to discuss how you can lean into this natural inclination to create a space which is both calming and inviting. If you’re interested in learning more, read on! (And be sure to share this article with those who share your cool tastes!)
What is a “cool” space?
Cool spaces are generally associated with blue and black tones—those colors we most often associate with winter and, thus, the cold. A majority of people focus their design energy on offsetting the biting chill and frosty winds of the external world by crafting an interior which is rife with warm-toned colors and textures which offer warm tactile experiences (read: wool, wood, leather). Those who favor a cool-leaning space are often drawn by the functionality of such spaces, rather than the sentimentality. As we discussed in our last article, cool design elements such as stainless steel, unsaturated blues, blacks, and greys, and minimalism, serve to emphasize the straightforward purpose of a space. For example, a doctor’s exam room serves a single purpose, as does a science lab. There’s no ambiguity, so to speak, about what purpose these spaces serve. In a similar manner, the philosophy behind cool spaces is driven by a single-minded intentionality.
Now, this isn’t to say cool spaces must only use those colors listed above. Indeed, understanding the basics of color theory is essential to designing either a warm or cool space, since any color can be warm or cool. For example, there are warm reds, underpinned by oranges. There are also cool reds, underpinned by blues and purples. A cool space doesn’t have to be devoid of color. Rather, cool-toned and neutral colors are used intentionally and sparingly to add dynamics to the space. In an Architectural Digest article dedicated to 13 Rooms That Use Cool Colors Beautifully, Melissa Minton wrote: “Colors on the cool spectrum—seafoam, violet, robin’s egg–blue—bring serenity and tranquility to any space, whether a guest bedroom, sitting area, or kitchen. Because cool tones aren’t overpowering, they often help a small room appear to have more space, which can make them a great choice for powder rooms and narrow hallways.” Most of the rooms featured in AD’s list are understated—utilizing greys, whites, and blues to create clean-looking spaces—but a few possess the timeless opulence commonly associated with warm spaces.
The philosophy of designing cool spaces might also be “less is more.” There’s a reason modern and minimalist design often gravitates toward the cooler end of the spectrum. Cool spaces benefit from pairing down to what’s essential. In this way, the inherent beauty of well-chosen materials and well-conceived layouts can take precedence over the minutiae of accessories and appliances. Cool spaces aren’t for everyone, but if you’re interested in creating your own, here’s how!
Material is King
The choice of material plays such a large role in crafting a cool space. As we mentioned previously, materials have an inherent warmth or coolness. While we’re sure there’s a scientific explanation behind such phenomena, it doesn’t take a PhD to know metal is cold to the touch. Stainless steel and chrome are popular choices in cool spaces because they reflect light and lend themselves to a polished look. That said, metal isn’t for everyone. Marble is also an option for those looking to craft a cool space, as it’s refractory nature gives a “lit from within” appearance while conveying a subtle coldness. Soapstone offers a degree of depth to darker hues like green, grey, and black. Many soapstones are veined, which offers a bit a texture, as does the pattina the stone develops over time. Granite comes in over three-thousand varieties and a particularly luscious array of greys.
While a warm space might feature wooden furniture, homespun rugs, and woolen blankets—a cool space might feature the same. That’s right! A cool space does not preclude cozy items. Rather, it’s about the type of wood used for the furniture. The type of material used for the rug. The color of wool used for the blankets. Silk, regardless of the color, is considered a cool material. As is linen. If you opt for wool, cool tones are the way to go. If you use wood, cool varieties (such as hand-weathered walnut, weathered maple, blue mahoe and white oak) will pair better with your decor.
We mentioned color theory in passing, but understanding color theory really is the crux of designing a cool space. Cool colors are defined by The Spruce as “any hue with a blue undertone… They’re called cool colors, as opposed to warm colors, because they are evocative of water. Warm colors, on the other hand, evoke thoughts of fire… Like water, sky, and greenery in nature, these colors are soothing and bring a sense of calm to a space. These colors also give the impression that they are receding. They make a space feel more open, adding to the serene effect.” When crafting a cool space, it’s always best to begin with a neutral color scheme, composed of whites, taupes, greys and beiges.
As you add in pops of cool color, make sure these colors are complementary. Now, complementary colors are actually defined within color theory. To learn more about color theory in-depth, you should read our article, ‘Which Type of Stone Goes With Your Floors?’ For now, we’ll define complementary colors as colors which, when combined, make either white or black. In other words, complementary colors are opposites, because they sit opposite one another on the Itten color wheel. When you use a cool color like washed-out turquoise, you might pair this with burnt orange. When you use a color like cool red, you might pair this with vibrant blue. In this way, you bring just enough warmth to the space to keep things fresh!
You might be surprised how you gravitate towards “cool” during your own design process. We hope this article has helped! As you’re designing, keep in mind Stonehouse Countertops is here to craft custom stone creations for your home, from countertops to floors to walls to vanities. At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Until next time—thanks for reading!