Decorating with blue – how to give rooms a fresh update with this cool color

Beloved by ancient Chinese dynasties, the Moors and the Greeks, this enduring color takes some know-how to be used well

decorating with blue
(Image credit: Emma Lee)

Calm, cool and collected, the color blue is a decorating win-win: not only does it make a beautiful base for a scheme but it’s scientifically proven to be a subconsciously calming shade, making you relax without even realising it.

There are, however, rules to stick to when decorating with blue if you want to get your space just right. Here, we break them down to give you the key to interior design success.

See: Decorating ideas: The ultimate guide to getting it right

Decorating with blue: interior designers' expert tricks

Get decorating with blue spot on by choosing the right tone for your rooms, and picking complementary colors that really work to make the most of your chosen blue. These are our top tips.

If you're looking for room inspiration, go to blue room ideas gallery for just that.

Which is the best color blue for rooms?

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Crown)

The best color blue for rooms is difficult define because it really depends on two things: first, your room's orientation, and second, the effect you want to create.

If your room faces north or east, it's likely to suffer from a lack of warm daylight, so choosing a blue that has warm tones (think turquoise) will keep it feeling welcoming; if your room faces south or west, it will receive warmer light, so you can afford to pick cooler tones.

Then, you need to decide whether you want your room to feel cozy or airy – darker blues obviously make a room feel more intimate, especially at night, than lighter blues.

A sea of blue

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

For a cosy fisherman's cottage feel, try a new twist on tongue-and-groove by taking it up to picture rail height and painting it in a shade that complements the color of the chambray curtains and upholstered headboard.

Can you mix blues in decorating?

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

Blues are perfect for mixing when decorating – and you can achieve this easily with a sumptuous layering of texture and pattern, each featuring a different shade of blue with similar, complementary tones. In fact, this is the key to a serene blue-and-white bedroom or living room scheme. 

Here, a bold headboard fabric creates a focal point, complemented by a curtain and cushion in similar shades, while the valance and throw add essential warmth and softness.

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Future/Simon Bevan)

What color goes well with blue?

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

Most colors go well with blue, although introducing warmer shades, such as yellow, orange and red will add warmth to the scheme where it might otherwise be lacking. 

You can always put blue with white – doing so will create an elegant, restful room with good natural daylight. Another color to put with blue is one from the range of neutrals and naturals – including brown and black. The one colour to avoid is grey, which can make a blue decor scheme feel cold. 

Opting for bold, block colour, such as azure, denim or sapphire, on upholstery and in rugs allows depth to be added with pattern. Here, a fine ticking stripe and geometric print fabrics provide lively highlights that catch the eye.

Clean and coastal

(Image credit: Emma Lee)

Above, a glazed white cabinet can be turned into a striking focal point by painting the inside a wonderful deep indigo or lining it in a dark, textural linen. Leaving the shelves white creates a point of contrast, ideal for displaying china.

Is blue a good color for a living room?

Living room color schemes

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

Blue is one of the most popular colors for living rooms – and really successful at creating a calming, elegant finish in a space that's often busy. 

From indigo to navy and cobalt, blue hues sit particularly well together, so offer great scope for pattern mixing. In this living room, cushions with large-scale motifs are successfully combined with smaller-scale pattern on the walls, stripes and plains in the curtains.

Is blue a good color for a kitchen?

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Jonathan Gooch)

Blue is a great color for kitchens – both on cabinetry and on the walls. It is a classic cabinetry choice, along with white and green, and is difficult to get wrong. If you would prefer to keep kitchen cabinetry more neutral, you can add blue to a kitchen with paint and tiles – or even accessories. 

To keep the room feeling warm, consider gold or brass fittings, whether taps or handles. In other words, pick warmer metals to make the kitchen feel smart but welcoming. Then, add extra warmth with flooring and furniture – wood or natural stone are perfect.

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Jake Curtis)

Above, a patchwork of textural blue wall tiles create an elegant backsplash with an artisanal feel. The rest of the space has been kept clean and bright with white fixtures and fittings, and a touch of contrasting greenery.

Is blue a good color for bedrooms?

Decorating with blue

(Image credit: Future)

Blue is the perfect color for bedrooms – as it is for home offices – because it promotes a feeling of restfulness. It's wonderful layered in various tones across the whole of the room – from wall paints to textured throws to accessories. However, in a room that receives poor natural light, the balance of blue to a lighter shade, such as white needs to be tilted towards the white to keep the room feeling bright and spacious.