When I moved in to my current apartment a couple years ago, I had a few color options for my accent wall (which the maintenance team kindly painted for me free of charge): red, blue, green, orange, and brown. After much debate, I opted for blue—it seemed like the color that would best match my décor. Plus, it was the lightest option available, so I thought it would create the illusion of much-needed space.
As it turns out, I’m not alone in my thinking. When my city-dwelling friend, Bridget, and her husband, Travis, recently moved to a larger apartment in The Big Apple, they chose to paint the living room in their new apartment blue (see the pictures). They initially flirted with red and green, but in the end opted for blue because they figured it was a safe choice (this was their first foray into room painting), yet would still make a bold statement.
Once they settled on blue, Bridget and Travis decided to go all out with two shades of bright blue: A darker one for the accent wall and a lighter one for the rest of the walls. “I figured if were going to spend the time and money painting, we might as well make it really noticeable,” she says. And they’re quite happy with their decision: The energetic hues keep their living room feeling light and airy, and they look good with the oak and blond-wood furniture and white-painted trim.
If you’re pondering a blue decorating scheme, here’s how to make it work for you:
Boost your mood. An atmospheric hue affiliated with the sky and ocean, blue is associated with peace, tranquility, calm, stability, confidence, security, loyalty, truth, and cold, according to Apartment Therapy. This cool hue tends to have a calming, relaxing effect on people—especially the lighter shades (an overly dark blue may actually evoke feelings of sadness). That’s why it’s an ideal hue for serene spaces such as a bathroom or bedroom. Or any room, for that matter. Because it’s calming and rejuvenating, why not use blue in a room where people frequently gather? For example, the bright shades Bridget and Travis selected for their living room exude energy and playfulness—and that entices the couple to spend even more time there. “I love coming home from work and spending time in our apartment now. Even at night, the living area is so vibrant and happy feeling, and the blues make the area feel really open,” Bridget says.
Select the right shade. Navy, aqua, periwinkle, azure, robin’s egg, cerulean—the options are endless. And the specific shade you choose can really give a room distinct personality. As I mentioned above, bright blues such as cobalt or turquoise lend energy and zest. Pastel blues help a small room seem larger than it is. Deep blues such as navy impart a more formal, traditional look. Because they’re so rich, dark blues look best when used as an accent color or in patterns. This Whole Living article explains how to appropriately apply blue into your decorating scheme. For example, those of you who reside in a cool climate area are better off with a warmer shade of blue with a red undertone—if you go too pale, you might end up with something overly icy- or chilly-looking.
Color coordinate. Blue looks amazing on its own or with other shades of the same color (just see Bridget and Travis’s walls for proof—even though the paint is from the same color family, the accent wall still pops against the lighter blue walls). It also creates an alluring effect when paired with other colors. For an unexpected look, try blue and red—blue’s cool qualities and red’s rich, warm tones look striking together, and it’s an unexpected combo. Notice the red drapes in Bridget and Travis’s apartment—they draw the eye, yet are subtle enough so they don’t overpower the room. House to Home recommends adding small bright pink accents—such as fresh flowers—as an accent color (I love this idea!). Blue and yellow and blue and green also pair well together—read about how to do it tastefully here.
The shade of blue you pick affects coordinating colors—for example, bright cobalt blue looks best with equally bright hues like yellow. A lighter blue pairs well with other pastel hues. Want to know more? Hop on back to that Whole Living article I mentioned earlier.
For more inspiration, look no further than this Better Homes & Gardens photo gallery on decorating in blue.
The Home Know-It-All