Blue – Cool and Calm
Blue, the coolest of the basic hues, is soothing and calming. Blue is the color most often stated as a favorite in studies among Americans. As a wall color it can fill a space with its special restful effect. Pale blues are especially peaceful, but even the brighter blues maintain an element of serenity.
For some, blue makes them feel, well, a bit ‘blue’. That seems to be the case mostly for the deeper hues of blue. It’s a good thing to keep this in mind so that all family members are considered in the selection of wall color.
Blue hues in the mid to lighter range can be both tranquil and inviting. And even though blue is not a warm and enveloping color, there’s something comforting about blue.
Blue for Living and Dining
While not used as frequently for wall color in living rooms as it is for bedrooms, you’ll find examples and ideas below for living rooms with blue walls. Or, find it used in upholstery, rugs, and accents such as throw pillows.
In this “Light As Air” garden room, checked silk curtains highlight the expansive windows that overlook Long Island Sound and blue sky. The designers have brought the blues of the view into the room by using light blues for walls, furnishings and accents. The over-size check of the curtains is an element that helps to visually bring the expansive room down in scale. The checks of the curtains and the sweetness of the painted tree mural in the wall niche add a sense of intimacy.
(Designers: Anne Tarasoff and Gail Tarasoff-Sutton for the Caumsett show house in Lloyd Neck, Long Island. Photo by Keith Scott Morton.)
In a living room by Steven Stolman and Jack Young, light blue walls and a bright blue rug are accented by yellows in the table lamps, throw pillows, and the painting. Touches of green are included in the scheme. The three colors add up to an analogous color palette.
(Photo by William Waldron.)
In a living room by James Andrew, seen in two views, the walls are a more vivid, yet still pale blue. Blue wall color and accents of bright blue-green and chartreuse create an analogous scheme. Punches of black accents are grounding components. Adding a bouquet of fuchsia flowers creates a pop of warm hue.
(Photos by Simon Upton.
Images of the above three rooms are from Elle Decor.)
In the room below, lauded designer Jan Showers has created an elegant play of elements. The silvery blue accent wall adds just the right backdrop color for the dove-gray sofa and silky and bright red and orange accent pillows.
(Photo: Jeff McNamara. Image from Southern Accents at MyHomeIdeas.)
In a living room by designer Carolina Irving the look is decidedly romantic with ruffled and flowery upholstered club chairs. Pale blue perfectly promotes the romantic air .
(From Lonny magazine.)
Blues subdued by gray populate the living room of interior decorator Michael DePerno. A very pale blue-gray wall provides the background color; creamy whites add a cozy feel. A few accents of brighter blue add a bit of liveliness.
(From Elle Decor. Photo: John Coolidge.)
Lee Bierly and Christopher Drake (of Bierly-Drake, Inc.) have used elements of the ever popular blue and white color combination in a light-filled family room. The color combination is especially apropos for a room that opens to a pool area. The floor tiles are a large check pattern of black and beige. The stripe fabric of the club chair is from Ralph Lauren.
(From Traditional Home. Photo: Robert Brantley.)
Designer Katie Ridder has created a living room with a Moroccan influence, in part the result of the pattern of the cement tiles. Light blue upholstery has a calming effect in this light filled space.
(From House&Home, sourced from “Katie Ridder Rooms by Heather Smith Macissac; Vendome Press. Photo: Eric Piasecki.)
Selecting fabrics and vases in similar blues has worked to unify a dining area in a living room by Milly de Cabrol. The blues are just lively enough to create an upbeat space. A sense of fun is created by the mix of fabric patterns. The dining chairs are slipcovered in a Kathryn M. Ireland fabric; the armchair is covered in a zebra print from Jim Thompson. (The fabric roman shade is my favorite window covering style.)
(Photo: Thomas Loof. Source: House Beautiful.)
Blue walls, pretty and pale, add to the traditional French style of this dining room with Louis XVI style marble-topped console table and gilt mirror.
(From Traditional Home)
The dining room designed by Jill Dienst in her family’s Sag Harbor, New York, weekend home uses soothing pale blue as the only color in the room. The dining chairs are early 18th-century Swedish. (See my post related to Gustavian style.)
(From Martha Stewart; American Colonial home tour. Jill Dienst is owner of Dienst + Dotter Scandinavian Antiques in New York, NY.)
A Bevy of Bedrooms Dressed in Blue
Because of its restful effect, blue can be a choice worth considering for bedroom walls. Just adding some touches of blue adds an element of serenity.
The muted pastel blues in this bedroom by Todd Richesin keep it especially tranquil. Romantic touches include the gathered checked-fabric dust ruffle and the pretty rose toned floral fabric.
Designer Ron Fiore designed this bedroom for the 2011 Hamptons Showhouse of Traditional Home. The formal balance of the room has a restful effect, as does the soft blue of the wall color.
(Traditional Home is the source for the above two bedrooms.)
Light blue and tan tones make a great color combination; it’s not unusual to see them combined. The wall color below is Sherwin-Williams Quicksilver 6245, a light bluish-gray. Checked and floral fabrics, frequently combined, are part of the harmony in this peaceful bedroom.
(From Southern Living at MyHomeIdeas. Photo: Laurey W. Glenn.)
Looking at this room image can’t you just feel a sea breeze and hear waves breaking on a nearby sandy beach? The bright blue and white patterned fabric is lively against the muted pastel green-blue wall color and the striped rug. Blue-greens accents are part of the mix. White is an important component in keeping the room fresh and breezy.
(From Coastal Living at MyHomeIdeas. Photo by J. Savage Gibson.)
A bedroom from a Portland Showhouse has light blue walls and vintage finds. The wall color is Ralph Lauren Cowgirl Blue WM137, but in the photo it comes across looking more like VM141 Lisbon Blue.
(Source: Country Home.)
Walls of aqua, a blue and white checked quilt and a yellow bed skirt, combine in this bedroom for a cottage look. Light blue combined with cornflower yellow can have that effect.
(From Martha Stewart.)
In a London townhouse, designer Jeffrey Bilhuber has used a blue floral fabric for curtains and bed hangings. The walls are painted a soft blue. The chest is 19th-century. The touch of tan fabric picks up the tans in the japanned chest.
(Photo by Simon Upton. Image from Elle Decor.)
(The photo is by William Waldron. The room also appeared in Elle Decor.)
A bedroom by Ruthie Sommers has an interesting combination of patterns. The color combination: blue and green.
(From Lonny magazine.)
The hand-painted headboard in this bedroom by Eric Prokesh contrasts with the bright, nearly turquoise, azure blue wall color – a blue that leans towards green. (When is blue ‘blue’, when is it ‘azure’, when is it ‘turquoise’? There just is not a definitive answer, but see my post on blue-greens for more.) The room has an enchanting mix of styles.
(From Southern Accents at MyHomeIdeas. Photo by Pieter Estersohn.)
When blue doesn’t exactly look blue
Some paint colors called ‘blue’ of some sort can actually seem to be what some of us would call ‘green’. (In fact some cultures have had only one color name to cover both blue and green.) In the library below the wall color is Benjamin Moore Stratton Blue (HC-142). Looking directly at the paint chip I have in hand, I’d call this color ‘green’. I mention this as bit of paint color naming to be aware of.
(Designer: Suzanne Rheinstein. Photo: Francesco Lagnese. Source: Architectural Digest.)
Blue Combined, or Blue on Blue
In the room images above it’s clear: blue combined with other colors works (in conjunction with other room elements) to create very different moods and looks. Blue with tan, blue with oranges or reds, blue with yellow, blue with green – or blue with other blues: blue proves to be a versatile color for room décor.
I’ll leave off with a sunroom by Steven Gambrel, a room that mixes a number of blues together for ‘blue on blue’. The room has both an old European as well as a bit of Moroccan air, this partly due to the hexagonal pattern of the carpet. The pillow fabric and the turned wood candle holders, along with the rough-hewn wood of the cocktail table, add to the look.
(From Elle Decor. Photo: Simon Upton.)
I think you’ll agree, blue is cool.
Tip: Cool colors like blue tend to recede and to visually expand space. So blue is a good color to use in small spaces to make them feel a bit larger and less closed in.
I like to remind readers that each computer screen can display colors differently.