Blue has confirmed itself as a favourite with the trendsetters. From the deepest inkiest indigo to pulsating Ultra marine we’re seeing it everywhere in interiors right now. And I have to fess up and say I’m a huge fan. In its purest hue it instantly brings to mind the work of Yves Klein who began experimenting with the most amazing ultramarine pigments in the late 1950’s, later know as International Klein Blue or IKB. He rather saucily had models cover themselves in paint and roll around the canvas, as ‘living brushes’. I saw the original collection on a school trip to Cologne and my love affair with the colour has never faded. And I’m not alone- over half the population vote blue as their number one favourite colour.
Work by Yves Klein
The history bit
One of the reasons why I think this colour trend is so popular is because- well..its nothing new! Blue has been a popular decorating scheme for yonks. Its hard to imagine a time when blue was not that commonly available. David Mottershead, MD of Little Greenecomments: “Blue is the richest of colours, and historically the most expensive to produce. In art, blue paint was reserved for depicting royalty, dignitaries and religious figures, and still to this day, holds the same luxurious appeal and hypnotic allure. “ Aside from plant based dyes like Indigo and Woad the earliest true blue was made from lapis Lazuli, a semi-precious mineral. No surprise it was reserved for the wealthiest clients.
How to decorate with blue
So how to decorate your walls with bright blue? It’s a colour that makes people understandably nervous with the fear that its just too chilling for our Northern climes. Ultramarine looks dazzling in Greece or the Cote d’Azur, but can it sizzle to the same effect in a semi in Solihull? I think that’s why we’ve been fixated with Duck Egg blue for so long- the paler more green tones help create a warmer feel. But ‘duck egg blue’ is so last decade darling! Lets get our heads around decorating with the new Blue hues in town.
I think one of the most charming colour combinations is blue and white. It’s a total classic, think delft tiles, Chinese ‘willow’ patterns and even jolly striped Cornish ware. But latterly designers have been using this classic colourway to produce modern geometric prints.
All blues work really well with natural hues and materials. If you’re worried that your blue scheme will feel chilly, think about warming it up with some slubby natural linens, stone, leather and timber in favour of too much stark white, which only adds to the chill factor.
Image from House and Garden. Photograph by Nick Pope.
Complimentary colours to blue
I think blue gets a real perk by teamed up with its complimentary colours, gold, yellow or orange. Think of some gilt frames on a deep blue walls, or a couple of yellow cushions and accessories in a blue and white scheme. My advice is to only add a wink of the accent colour- that way you keep the look sophisticated rather than playschool.
This room designed by Sarah Moorefor The Great Interior Design Challenge features walls painted in Dining Room blue by Farrow and Ball
Patterns in blue
Blue lends itself to bold patterns very well. Typically what springs to mind is blue and white ikats, nautical stripes or a striking modern geometric. When decorating with a bold and saturated hue I think it’s a good idea to pick patterns that can muscle up to it.
Image from housetohome.co.uk
Using blue as an accent colour
Due to its distancing qualities, blue make s a great back drop, It’s a cool colour as a feature wall, if you haven’t the gall to daub it on all four walls! It can also make a great accent in a neutral scheme, as the saturated colour is just so fabulously arresting. A sumptuous velvet blue sofa looks oh so luxurious in a pale white scheme for example, or consider a really large abstract canvas in International Klein Blue. You could paint one yourself using Ultra 264by Little Greene.
Image from House to home
The Science bit
Blue is what we call a cool colour, it recedes away from the eye making a room feel a litter larger than it really is. In it’s most vibrant form it’s the perfect wall colour for a sun filled room; it will enhance the brightness and richness of the colour. If you have a dark low light room I’d maybe consider a deeper navy that will look dramatic and cosseting highlighted by lamps and walls sconces.
Bold blue positively vibrates in a sunny room, made all the more dazzling when coupled with bright white. Image from housetohome.co.uk
When we look at the psychological effects of blue on your mood, blue is a very restful colour and so great for rooms of quiet contemplation. Its the perfect choice for a place of work for example. It can also literally ‘give you the blues’ so avoid it as a wall colour if it affects you in this way. It famously suppresses the appetite which makes it a terrible choice for dining areas- and we rarely see it in used in kitchen designs- although if you do- it might be a great aid to nipping those fridge raids in the bud!