Mondays continue to be all about color. This is the 3rd in a series that will take us through February (be sure to subscribe if you don’t want to miss anything). At the end of today’s post I’ll have links to the previous articles. If you’ve got questions or some specific aspect of color you want to learn about, write and let me know.
This series isn’t meant to be all encompassing but rather to give you a starting point of information to work with as you decorate or redecorate your home. So, no textbook color theory stuff, just good basic, useable information.
I asked my husband what he knew about blue and he said 3 things: it’s a primary color, it’s soothing and it’s a cool color. Wow – that’s more than I thought he knew… What comes to your mind when you think of blue? The deep blue of the ocean? The light, airy, breezy color of a summer sky? The dark gray blue of a stormy sky? Do you immediately equate it with coastal or tropical design? Or do you think more in terms of formal, period design? Blue is all these things and more.
Characteristics of Blue
Did you know blue is most often named as a favorite color? That’s likely because of it’s inoffensive nature. Blues can be rich, elegant and classic (think navy or wedgewood blue) or they can lean to the playful or contemporary (think cobalt and royal blue). The light tints of blue (my first post in this series explains tints and shades) will visually expand a room, giving it an airy, summery feeling – use it on the ceiling too. The darker shades of blue will envelop you and can be quite dramatic.
Blue has such a broad range of tones that it will blend with almost any conceivable color scheme. It will work to cool down heated schemes that use terra cotta, yellows, golds or oranges. Using a blue with a warm undertone can also lift a monochromatic blue room out of the icy feeling that an all blue room can sometimes have. Bright or sedate, classic or trendy, there’s a place for blue in your home.
(photo sources clockwise from top left - Chloe etegere: TonicHome.com; child’s desk: InMod.com; bedding: Mitchell Gold+Bob Williams; pillow: Moon Shine in linen, Ankasa; clock: Isa, BurkeDecor $48; lamp: overstock.com; sofa: Azure, Crate & Barrel $1900; vase: TwosCompany $195; chair: Graham & Green)
Moods of Blue
Calm, serene, quiet, restful, icy and cool pretty much covers the emotional range of blue. Blue makes us think of the vastness of sky, the beauty and peacefulness of a calm lake or the vivid blue of the Caribbean. A blue room will lower your heart rate, lower anxieties, lower energy levels and even give you the impression of cooling temperature. It can also help reduce tension and stress – and who doesn’t need that? However, if you’re prone to “blue moods” or depression, I wouldn’t recommend using much blue in your home.
The Best Place for Blue
Due to it’s calming influence, it makes sense that blue would be used in the restful spaces of your home like a bedroom. In an exercise room, not so much. Blue can feel very formal so lends itself well to a formal space like a living room or period room decor.
Where in your home do you retreat to have quiet time for yourself? A study or sitting room to be your oasis of calm? Beautiful in blue. Bathrooms are all about water so what better place to use shades of blue? However, keep in mind that blue can be unflattering to some skin tones. Since blue is considered a “cool” color, it’s perfect if you live in a hot climate - use blue liberally throughout your home to give you that refreshed, cool temperature feeling. If you live in a cooler clime and love blue, you’re not out of luck – just choose a warmer blue and pair it with off white trim and warm wood finishes.
I think blue is a perfect color to use outside. It will stand out against green gardeny backdrops but not so boldly as to be jarring. It enhances the serenity and peacefulness a garden inspires. Blues make you think of sky and water and what better associations to have when relaxing in your garden?
Colors to Use With Blue
There are some very classic color schemes that are built with blue. Crisp blue and white, bright blue and yellow and most recently sophisticated blue (that delightful robin’s egg blue) and brown are the most classic combos. The complement of blue is orange (opposite each other on the color wheel) so that means that it’s the most powerful combination – a clear blue and orange will almost vibrate against each other. So if you’ve developed a pleasant blue room and decide it needs a lift – a little orange is all you’ll need. As with other complementary colors, by adding a little orange to blue, you will reduce it’s intensity without creating a muddy color.
If you want to experiment with blue and think outside the box in creating combinations, consider navy blue with a burnt orange; royal blue with emerald green; baby blue with primrose or maybe a medium blue denim color with coral or salmon pink.
If you have a room decorated in warm colors of golds, oranges or reds, a touch of blue will cool down the room and reduce it’s vibrancy. The contrast of a touch of a cool color in an otherwise warm colored room is often welcome and creates a subtle point of interest.
Feng Shui – Water Element
The water element embodies emotion, introspection and tranquility. Too much of it (blue) might cause overly emotional reactions or the feeling that life is moving quickly and you can’t keep up. Not enough water element in your surroundings might leave you feeling drained and removed from life – as if everything requires too much effort. A well balanced amount of water energy (of course different for each of us) wil help you feel at ease, secure and in harmony with your life.
By The Way…
Did you know that there are very few naturally blue flowers? (some of you garden types are immediately thinking “yes there are” and you’d be right, just not many) In my years as a florist I was always struggling to find enough blue flowers to add to arrangements (purple became the ‘go to’ color). A lesson we can learn from Mother Nature: since a flower’s color is designed to attract bees or insects, the colors are bold and vivid (must be why there are so many red and yellow varieties of flowers). As in nature, so it goes in our homes: want to attract attention, go red; want serene, go blue.