Sky blue through ocean blue and on to cobalt bring serenity and tranquility to any space because they are on the cool spectrum. When it comes to blue room ideas, Jane Rockett, co-founder of Rockett St George, says, ‘Cool blues and deep navy tones promote calmness and are the perfect choice for your living room, bedroom or guest room – typically spaces that you go to for escape and respite.’
Because cool tones aren’t overpowering – in fact they often feel like they are receding – they often help a small room appear to have more space, which can make them a great choice also for bathrooms and narrow hallways. ‘Don’t be frightened of using the colour on a carpet, rug or runner; colour lifts the spirit from the floor up, which is a room’s main canvas,’ believes Lorna Haigh of Alternative Flooring. ‘Work with on-trend gentler blues: Duck Egg blue is always popular; although we are seeing more teals being used with secondary popping colours.’
Blue consistently tops the charts of our favourite colours but when it comes to decorating, its negative connotations of being cold and masculine - think about the phrases we use in everyday parlance including being 'in a blue mood' or ‘feeling blue’ - can make some feel nervous about using it as a leading colour in the home. But a major plus that’s worth bearing in mind is that blue that it works well with our northern hemisphere light which, for most of the year, is already quite blue. It’s a flexible, too. When paired with fresh white, such as in this scheme, you have a tried-and-tested colour combination that speaks of sunny and sophisticated New England summers. Just be sure to stick to the same tone of blue and then mix in stripes and patterns to keep the scheme cohesive.
Mixing bold modern pieces with traditional accents is a well-established route to create an eclectic overall feel to a room. But look carefully and often you’ll find that the artwork chosen can act as source of colour inspiration for a room. If you like a particular hue that a painter has used, take it as a design cue and base the scheme around that (and if you’re struggling to match it, Valspar has introduced a Pinterest Analyser tool which can match any colour from a Pinterest board to the closest equivalent in their range). The end result will make a treasured painting stand proud in the room. A bedspread can create a base note for a colour scheme just as successfully as a wall, floor or curtain. Here, it echoes the same grey/blue worn by the lady in the painting. Then, speaking to the contemporary design of the space, the inky indigo on the walls is offset by a mustard headboard - its opposite peer on the colour wheel. Finally, a metallic accent in the velvet cushions and bronze nightstand ties the scheme together.
In this house in the Hamptons village of Sag Harbor, Steven Gambrel has played on variations of a blue and grey colour palette throughout, as well as picking out architectural details such as doors and windows by switching tempo and using matt and polished gloss. Any risk of the blue coming across as cold are relieved by the natural elements including with chunky fibre rug on the floor and fluted antique wood side table. Think about using an alternative paint finish to lift the overall effect on walls and give a colour greater clarity. Venetian Plaster leaves a smooth finish which is layered with the multi-dimensional, two-tone appearance of marble surfaces, adding visual interest and charm. Watch out though, it’s a considerably more laborious (and therefore expensive) skill than standard painting.
In this entrance hallway scheme, interior decorator Beata Heuman has introduced a playful injection of blue-green teal on the ornate painted sideboard table which is then carried on in the shades above the two bird lamps. As the hallway is the first interior space that is seen, it often becomes the standard bearer of what’s to come. Using a pop of colour here is a useful way of whetting the appetite, advertising that there is more on the way, without overwhelming visitors and guests at first sight. Instead of painted on the walls, covering the floors or at windows, use upholstered furniture such as sofas and armchairs as well as cushions and lampshades to set a colour scheme in a room. It has the obvious advantage of being flexible and easily changed if the mood further down the line takes on a different taste.
Painting the ceiling in a darker colour than the walls is a way to make a bedroom - particularly if it's quite large–feel cosier and more intimate. It'll create the illusion of a lower ceiling, as well as setting a dynamic contrast against white walls. For this master bedroom, the South Carolinian decorator Cortney Bishop took her colour inspiration from the views outside and wasn’t deterred by using blue as an anchor for the room. ‘All shades of blue run throughout this particular home,’ she explains. ‘For the master bedroom, it felt right to bring in other colours inspired by the view outside their window so, in addition to the blues, that included greens and earthy browns. These three colours presented a richness that evoke a sense of warmth and also very pleasing to the eye.’
In a warmer climate, such as that of the south of France, be braver with using deeper blues on the walls. The softer light, which is more often infused with sunlight than we see in northern Europe, can take the stronger tones. The Paris-based designer and architect India Mahdavi (who was responsible for painting Sketch’s Gallery tearoom a popping shade of rose pink back in 2014) injected this room, which is part of a 22-room hotel in the Provencal town of Arles, with a vivid blast of turquoise. This is set off by the colourful display of bottles arranged on a postbox-red shelving unit. India describes herself as a polychrome and a polyglot - as talented with the use of colour and as she is with languages. She has said of her work with colour: ‘I like to mix and let them insult each other, have an argument.’ It’s an approach that requires a very discerning eye so if in doubt, we recommend staying faithful to classic contrast on the colour wheel.
‘We love decorating with Pigeon by Farrow and Ball,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch, founder of Sims Hilditch. ‘This paint colour is a cosy and nostalgic blue grey. It is softer and bluer than more contemporary grey shades, we love using this colour for our entrance areas, boot rooms, cloakrooms or darker spaces like studies and panelled rooms.’
Add a little blue to a neutral scheme with curtains and blinds. Thomas Sanderson’s new range of curtains in collaboration with Harlequin will bring a comforting sophisticated feel to a contemporary bedroom. Here, the deep Calista fabric in cobalt blue adds warmth to large scale wrap-around windows.