By Rhoda Parry
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.’
See: Decorating with blue – a fresh update on this cool, contemporary color
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 color on a carpet, rug or runner; color lifts the spirit from the floor up, which is a room's main canvas,’ says 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 colors.’
- See: The best Farrow & Ball paint – to create a brilliant blue room scheme
Blue room ideas
Whether you're looking for blue room ideas that are predominantly blue or just have touches of blue in accessorizing, you'll find a scheme that suits here. We have included blue ideas for quick remodels and inspiration for spaces that are being entirely renovated.
1. Use mid blues for an elegant finish
Blue consistently tops the charts of our favourite colors 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 color in the home.
But a major plus that’s worth bearing in mind is that blue that it works well with northern hemisphere light which, for most of the year, is already quite blue.
It’s a flexible shade, too. When paired with fresh white, such as in this Cape Cod living room scheme, you have a tried-and-tested color 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.
- See: Living room ideas – inspiring ways to decorate and furnish your space
2. Take a color cue from accessories
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 color 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 color wheel. Finally, a metallic accent in the velvet cushions and bronze nightstand ties the scheme together.
3. Add warmth to blue rooms with woody textures
In this house in the Hamptons village of Sag Harbor, Steven Gambrel has played on variations of a blue and grey color 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 is 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 color 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.
4. Create a blue scheme instantly with accessories
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 color 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 paint on the walls, coverings on the floors or at windows, use upholstered furniture such as sofas and armchairs as well as cushions and lampshades to set a color 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.
- See: Hallway ideas – stylish ways to create a welcoming first impression
5. Paint the ceiling blue for an intimate feel
Painting the ceiling in a darker color 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 colors inspired by the view outside their window so, in addition to the blues, that included greens and earthy browns. These three colors presented a richness that evoke a sense of warmth and also very pleasing to the eye.’
- See more: Bedroom ideas – designs and inspiration to decorate and furnish your space stylishly
6. Pick a bold contrast to make blue punchy
In a warmer climate, such as that of the south of France or southern California, be braver with using deeper blues on the walls. The softer light, which is more often infused with sunlight than seen in northern climes, 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 colorful 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 color and as she is with languages. She has said of her work with color: ‘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 color wheel.
7. Choose a blue grey for a traditional appeal
‘We love decorating with Pigeon by Farrow and Ball,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch, founder of Sims Hilditch. ‘This paint color is a cosy and nostalgic blue grey. It is softer and bluer than more contemporary grey shades, we love using this color for our entrance areas, boot rooms, cloakrooms or darker spaces like studies and panelled rooms.’
8. Add bold panels of blue in curtains
Add a little blue to a neutral scheme with curtains and blinds. Thomas Sanderson’s 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.
9. Work blue cabinetry into a kitchen renovation
'Green kitchens have seen the real surge in popularity recently, but I think blue kitchens are the classic choice that you really can't go wrong with,' says Homes & Gardens Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'Dark blue kitchens, like the one above, are perfect for larger spaces that you want to look traditional, formal and smart – and at the other end of the scale, powder blue cabinetry is pretty in a country kitchen. Just as with white kitchens, you won't go too far wrong with blue.'
10. Pick a strong blue for bathrooms
Pale blues are a tricky choice for a bathroom – unless the space is flooded with warm light all day long, it can feel cold and unwelcoming. A darker blue, however, succeeds in making a bathroom feel incredibly smart. A word of warning, though: a dark color scheme in a bathroom must go hand-in-hand with good bathroom lighting so that the space doesn't feel dreary at night.
11. Balance blue patterns and plains
A flamboyant floral wallpaper is the defining feature of this contemporary kitchen diner, in which the curtains, furniture and backsplash have been kept understated so as not to compete. Natural foliage brings an accent color and fresh finishing touches to the blue-and-white scheme.
12. Add texture with a subtle blue-print wallpaper
Blue paint can be somewhat flat if your room has few architectural features to add a feeling of depth. So, if you would like to bring blue into your room on walls, consider a blue wallpaper that looks like it has texture to it, such as this subtle print.
Is blue good for a bedroom?
Blue is a good color for a bedroom – and not just aesthetically. Our perception of blue has an affect on our moods, too. As fabric and wallpaper designer Vanessa Arbuthnott says in our feature on color psychology in interior design, 'It’s been proven that students exposed to blue before undertaking an exam achieved greater results, making it the perfect color choice for a bedroom or study.'
That aside, it's true that blue is a calming, restful color that does promote a feeling of peace and tranquility that's perfect for a bedroom.
Picking the right shade of blue for a bedroom will largely depend on when you use the room – if only a night, you can pick any shade you love – pale blues to enhance space or deep blues to create a cocooning effect. But if you use the bedroom by day, too, you'll want to ensure the tone of blue you choose feels warm and welcoming, so experiment before settling on the final shade, considering blues with a hint of yellow toning for an inviting feel.
What color goes well with blue?
Blue goes well with most other colors, and is an easy color to coordinate with but these are the best matches – and those to avoid:
1. Blue and white – as you'll see above, it creates a crisp finish that's extremely elegant and timeless.
2. Blue and yellow – a little traditional for some tastes, nevertheless, yellow is a great match for warming blues up, and blues for cooling yellows down.
3. Blue and orange – blue and orange have the same effect on each other as blue and yellow, although the result is a more contemporary look.
4. Blue and pink – this is a lovely combination and works well as pastels or as much bolder shades.
5. Blue and green – for a room that feels rich and grown up, this is a fabulous combination that is perfect for rooms starved of pretty, verdant views.
6. Blue and grey – this is one to skip. Instead, match blue with black or brown for a much more elegant finish.
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