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Has Your Home Got the Blues?

April 30 2010

What’s the coolest new color in homes? Blue.

If that sounds like a breath of fresh air, you may be ready to break away from the warm tone trends, and try something new.

Most people like some shade or tint of blue, but you may feel out of practice. Your color sense can be stiff after a decade of Tuscan golds, eco-greens and earth tones. And it doesn’t help that “neutrals” like beige and taupe have been pounded into your head as buyer-friendly.

Whether you’re redoing your home for yourself or the next buyer, the right blue in the right amount in the right location can be beautiful, calming and refreshing, like a dip in the pool on a hot day.

Can blues be neutral?  Yes, but they can be tricky to use. Blue can warm up a room, or make a room go cold depending on the tone. It can seem appropriate or inappropriate, depending on your home’s location and climate.

In ocean areas and lake homes, you’ll hardly find a home that doesn’t have blue featured prominently as a main color, secondary color or accent. But blue in snowy or mountainous climates may feel just a little chilly when brought indoors.

The secret is using blue correctly within the color spectrum. Like other colors, even taupe or beige, blue has tone, shade or tint. If blended with creams, yellows, and greens, blues can be warmer. If blended with white, black or reds, blue will be cooler.

Blue will stand out the most as a contrast – blue against wood tones, for example. Blue can also be
natural, and neutral in monochromatic tones with greys, pewters and greyed-blues.

The key is chroma or the amount of pigment your blues have. The more pigment there is, the stronger the blue is as a statement. The less pigment there is, the softer and more soothing blue can be.

Here are a few ideas for your color palette:

Soothing Blues – these blues are pale, muted with grey or warmed with undertones of yellow. Pastel blues can be wonderful in bedrooms and baths or wherever you seek serenity. The versatility of blue is unlimited because blue is a primary color that automatically complements other colors, just as the sky complements the greens of trees and grass.  Seek the lightest hues for a calm and neutral look.

Floral and Avian Blues – bluebonnet, periwinkle, hibiscus, iris and other floral blues can be delightful as accents to pop a more neutral color scheme. Complemented by most shades of woods and grass grees, these mid-tones bring the outdoors in.  Bluebirds, bluejays and the spectacular peacock attract mates with their beautiful plumage.

Classic Blues – these strong blues were inspired by the royal and sapphire hues of the Orient, as found in 16th century Ming dynasty porcelains. These blues made their way to the west, and are featured prominently in antique and collectible porcelain china such as Delft, Staffordshire, Blue Willow, and Spode among others, and in fabrics made of toile, moire silk, and damask. The impact of such strong blues is softened by whites, creams, and yellows.  These blues are considered classic in kitchens and dining rooms, because the coolness of the colors offsets the heat of ovens, ranges, and cook-tops. 
Stylish Blues – the lively aqua blue made famous as Tiffany blue is a modern classic. Inspired by the signature blue jewel box color of the famous New York jeweler, this shade is automatically upscale and a color you’re sure to want to breakfast with. Other stylish blues can be more of a risk, best used in places that are easily painted over or replaced such as pillows, placemats and vases. Stylish blues make a design statement that is carefully paired with other elements in the room so as not to overshadow them.  A design professional can carefully use the sophisticated blue to achieve the balance of a stronger cool color that is still inviting.  

Contemporary Blues – vivid, dark, intense blues such as navy or cobalt are so strong they automatically seem contemporary because they are most effectively used in rooms without a lot of fuss or clutter.  Best complemented by whites, blacks, reds, and grays, these blues can make an industrial, high-rise or loft palette cool in a good way.  

No matter what your room function, home location, or design preference, there is a blue for you.  If your home hasn’t got the blues, maybe it’s time for an update.