The color Blue can evoke so many moods and images from calm sea glass and spa colors to inky night sky shades and all the water and sky colors in between, and decorating with blue can be tricky! A paint that looked like a perfectly innocent sweet blue on the 1” chip in the store can transform into a crayola crayon nightmare when multiplied out on your walls.
Blue is currently enjoying a surge in popularity again which is good news for blue lovers everywhere! Personally, I think you should use whatever colors make you happy and look great in your home and not worry about what is or isn’t popular, but colors do seem to go in and out of fashion – just look at all the attention we give to the various “color of the year” announcements each fall like it’s the academy awards for colors, when it is really just a marketing strategy. The fashion and home furnishings industries produce and market certain collections and the media beats it to death until we think we MUST have those particular colors or we’ll be hopelessly out of style! Sure, there are plenty of things that are hopelessly out of style, but the colors themselves are not to blame….I mean call harvest gold “dijon” and pair it with some teal or cobalt or charcoal and it can look downright chic! Just don’t make bathroom fixtures and appliances out of it ever again. Please.
Twenty eight years ago I was working on my first showhouse room and 98% of the rooms in the showhouse were some variation on yellow. Then came a phase of jewel tones with lots of hunter green or cranberry or eggplant or cobalt rooms…and we have recently been drowning in a sea of grey and griege. There is nothing wrong with any of those colors and there are successful timeless designs using each of them. But today, let’s explore the possibilities with shades of blue.
What if I don’t want to commit to a whole room painted blue?
Here are some OTHER classic ways to incorporate shades of blue in a room. And then at the end of the post are 10 gorgeous shades of blue paint.
Blue and White Porcelains
Blue and white ginger jars, lamps, garden stools, plates - all of these look great against SO many other colors….yellows, reds, greens, neutrals…
Blue and white lamps, and especially Chinoiserie patterned ones, work in almost ANY room, adding sophistication and richness. Garden stools can function as extra seating tucked under a console table when not in use, or as pretty and practical little side tables to perch a drink or book on next to a chair or sofa. A collection of plates makes a nice addition to art on a wall, and ginger jars, vases and cache pots make a striking sculptural collection on a mantel or tabletop even in their naked state without floral arrangements or plants.
Just look at these pretty blue Chinoiserie lamps against a kelly green backdrop in this library/dining space by the remarkable Miles Redd. There isn’t another blue element in sight, yet they look spectacularly right.
Or this blue and white plate collection we arranged for a client as part of the wall art. Some are antiques and some are new inexpensive finds, but they all work together to add interest to the wall and highlight the blue in the painting.
And this closeup of a blue and white porcelain vase in this glorious red, white, and blue showhouse room by Mark D Sikes. The vase is one of a pair that sits atop the mantel and is a perfect addition to the arrangement. The link goes to a post with many more shots of this remarkable room.
Shop the Look to add some touches of blue to your rooms; click on the image for more information about a particular item
Fabrics or Wall Covering or Rugs
Textiles in crisp blue and white patterns such as toiles, florals, stripes, and geometrics, and rich textures like velvet, chenille, and matelasse all contribute a fresh classic feel to a room.
A bold cobalt toile used abundantly on walls, bedding, and bed hangings works beautifully relieved by a quiet small scale geometric print.
Here, busy figured wall covering in shades of navy on white is paired with two different blue and white striped fabrics, yet the overall effect is light and airy due to the simple classic lines of the furniture and the vaulted ceiling.
Again, a successful mix of different stripes (on the window and pillows, bedding trim, and area rug) are offset with a rich solid blue matelasse upholstery fabric.
Here, inviting blue velvet upholstery creates a cozy atmosphere paired with blue window treatments and a bold geometric rug all against a quiet, pale grey backdrop in this New York library space.
Shop the Look for some beautiful blue wallpapers, pillows, and rugs; click on each image for more information
Painted Furniture or Cabinetry
Blue furniture can create many different moods - lacquered gloss pieces in rich blues inject excitement into neutral rooms, and softer chalk painted blue pieces contribute to a more casual rustic feel. Blues always pair equally well with whites and neutrals and a variety of wood stain colors.
Built-in cabinetry or paneling painted in a rich deep blue gloss finish adds drama and warmth.
Below, a gorgeous lacquered blue chest with gold embellishments and a marble top is a standout in an otherwise neutral space.
This is one of my favorite examples of blue painted cabinetry. I love the beautiful brass hardware and faucet with it and the antiqued mirror squares that cover the walls!
Royal blue lacquered bamboo dining chairs steal the show in this coastal casual dining room by the brilliant Studio McGee.
Shop the Look for blue dining chairs, bedside chests or coffee tables; click on each image for more information
There are many wonderful shades of blue from pale gray blues to rich deep teal blues.
A few of my favorite Benjamin Moore deep toned blues are Van Deusen Blue, Mozart Blue, and Hale Navy These look dramatic and are especially nice paired with white and wood tones. These are fabulous for powder rooms, dining rooms, libraries, and bedrooms. If your walls are in stellar condition, consider using a gloss finish for your dark colors to reflect some light. Just be warned – gloss shows up every bump and imperfection!
In this library by Meredith Heron, the millwork and walls are all painted in the same deep teal/navy color, and the window treatments blend into the walls wrapping the room in a cozy cocoon. Light colored upholstery and a lively patterned rug are a striking contrast against the deep tones. Don’t you just want to curl up in front of the fire with a good book?
Mid tone complex Benjamin Moore blues like Palladian Blue and Constellation are wonderful for bedrooms and living spaces as they change with the shifting light throughout the day.
This bedroom is light and airy with lots of shades and textures in aqua and white. Tailored unfussy detailing, a dark metal bed frame, and stained wood bedside tables with classic lines keep it from feeling too “sweet”. Phoebe Howard is the master at creating impeccably tailored beautiful, airy spaces.
And for when you just want a hint of blue not some cloying baby blue that screams “taste-free plastic childrens toy”, Whispering spring, Opal Essence, Quiet Moments, Ice Cap, and Silver Mist are all pale greyed blue or blue greens from Benjamin Moore that fit the bill.
This bedroom pairs dark wood floors and mirrored furniture with pale icy grey blues and warm whites for a glamorous space.
Don’t forget the “5th wall” in your rooms! That would be the ceiling, if you haven’t heard that before. Unless you have one of those textured ceilings in a sand or popcorn finish (in which case you want to avoid calling ANY attention to it!), consider painting your ceiling a contrasting color. This is especially lovely if you have white walls and blue is an especially nice color for ceilings since it is reminiscent of sky. Southern architecture almost always puts an aqua blue on porch ceilings…originally folklore said the blue would ward off evil spirits because they couldn’t cross water and it became known generically as Haint Blue. Haint means ‘haunt’ and apparently evil spirits are not very smart if they think blue paint is the same thing as water?! If that was the goal perhaps a moat would be more effective, just sayin’…Other explanations for the practice of painting porch ceilings blue said that bugs and birds wouldn’t build nests near a blue ceiling (perhaps because they think it is open sky?...I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of bug or bird brains…) In any case a porch ceiling, or any ceiling for that matter, looks great in any number of variations on a sky color.
Choosing Paint Colors
Always, always, always choose your paint colors in the space where they are going. Paint colors look very different in different circumstances. You cannot expect a paint color you love in a picture or at a friends house or at the store to look the same in YOUR house. This post has some practical guidelines for choosing your perfect paint color.
And finally, here is a chart of 10 of the best Benjamin Moore shades of blue paint. This list includes something for everyone from subtle pale tones to deep bold hues. Please pin the chart for reference!
Wishing you the most beautiful blues!
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