Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Paint Your House Blue

As regular readers of this blog know, I've become a big fan of blue in home decor (and not just because it's a color I can get my husband to agree to). I think blue is an incredibly versatile shade of paint color. In its paler forms it reads as a cool, soothing neutral, which is lovely when paired with similar cool tones like grays, whites, greens and other blues. These tones are ideal for bedrooms, bathrooms and any darker room that you want brightened up a bit. In bolder iterations, blue can read as happy, beachy, sophisticated or even sexy, depending on the shade and the other colors you bring into the room. I love these bolder choices in dining rooms, kitchens, studies, entryways and dens.

But which blue should you use? In the world of paint, there are an almost infinite number of color choices -- and nearly as many in shades of blue. Accept from the outset that there is going to be more than one perfect shade of white (or blue) that will work in your space and to cut yourself some slack. And remember, even if you do end up hating it in the end, just repaint it. It's that simple. Ultimately though, I find my favorite color choices have been those that scared (and excited) me a bit. Remember, great design always takes some risks. Be brave and go with your gut instinct. Don't let your brain talk your heart out of anything it loves.

I'm a firm believer in not letting yourself get overwhelmed by too many options. To help manage your options, I think it's best to start with an artificially limited selection so as to avoid a complete brain overload (and the inevitable indecision that accompanies it). You can do this by culling your favorite magazines and blogs (both of which, alas, all too frequently fall to mention which paint was used), asking friends and family members with particularly good taste, or even limiting yourself to a particular brand (some of which, like Farrow & Ball, Benjamin Moore's Affinity line and the new Glidden, have a rather narrow range of color choices). To get you started though, I've pulled together my favorite shades of blue, many of which I have used in my prior home or have already used in this house.

And because teenie tiny paint swatches on a computer screen should never be trusted, here's how the colors look on the walls (some of which were/are my own!). That said, never trust a computer image or one-inch square swatch. Invest in sample pots and test it on your actual wall, which will help prevent most forms of painter's remorse.

Feather Gray by Benjamin Moore
(my old guest bathroom)

As the name suggests, Feather Gray is predominately gray in hue, but with enough blue pigment to make it appear blue in the right light. I used this in my old secondary bathroom and I thought it was a wonderful complement to the natural slate floors, warm white cabinets and black granite counters. I used Nantucket Fog in my master bath, which had identical fixtures and can honestly say both worked equally well. If you prefer a lighter, more gray blue, go with Feather Gray. If you want a truer blue, then Nantucket Fog is your best bet.

Borrowed Light by Farrow & Ball

I like this color enough for its name alone, but I also love the softness that it gives a room. In every room I've seen it used, it manages to blur the lines between the walls, creating the perception of an endless expanse of space. When used alone, the color reads as a cool white, but when paired with warmer whites (as shown above), it takes on a lovely soft blue appearance. Use this anywhere you want to feel light, bright and positively huge.

Parma Gray by Farrow & Ball

This is the color of my current bedroom and it's a lovely blue gray. It's soft enough to be just about the perfect backdrop for any decor and any color scheme. Treat this not so much as a blue but as a neutral. It looks stunning with whites, silvers and grays but would be equally fabulous with bolder, complementary colors (like orange).

Riviera Azure by Benjamin Moore

I think this is just about the perfect tone of periwinkle. Blue enough to be sophisticated and grown up but still retaining that hit of purple that makes periwinkle so lovely and fun in the first place. This color works beautifully in a bedroom, but could also be used to great effect in bathrooms or any small room that could use a bit of lightness (and light heartedness).

Nantucket Fog by Benjamin Moore
(my old master bathroom)

Nantucket Fog is rather similar to the Feather Gray, though a touch darker and with a smidge more blue. This bathroom was originally a very dull medium gray and it was amazing how this color managed to brighten up the entire room. This color also worked gorgeously with the Philipsburg Blue in the adjoining master bedroom as they are very similar in tone.

Buxton Blue by Benjamin Moore

This is the perfect shade of Williamsburg blue, with all the green-gray undertones you'd expect that make it far more sophisticated than a "baby blue" has any right to be.

Gulf Stream by Sherwin Williams

Bold? Absolutely. But this is a real statement color. I'd use sparingly as an accent for an alcove or behind a built-in or bookshelf. Would also be fabulous in a powder room if you used a high gloss finish to mimic the look of lacquer. Another great option for a true teal is Glidden's Peacock Blue, which stopped me in my tracks the last time I was at Home Depot.

Chinese Blue by Farrow & Ball
(photograph of Beth's shed via Chinoiserie Chic)

Quite possibly the best color for a front door, no? Very reminiscent of Miles Redd's famous door. This color would also be stunning as an accent color or -- even better -- as a ceiling color. In fact, I'm contemplating painting the ceilings of our back porches out in Chinese Blue.

Philipsburg Blue by Benjamin Moore
(my old master bedroom)

I can't tell you how much I loved having a bedroom this gorgeous blue-gray-green color. It's saturated but still soothing (I'd use the term "cave-like" but that sounds derogatory and it's not meant to be). Also very sophisticated, Philipsburg Blue is a great color for people who want to go dark but are afraid to.

Slate Teal by Benjamin Moore
(Dave's new -- and then empty -- study)

Peacock blue is definitely having a moment and while it's a wonderful color for accessories or even a bold accent wall, if you're going to do it all over, I think you need to take it down a notch by adding in some gray. This color is the perfect blend of teal and gray and changes wonderfully with the light.

Drawing Room Blue by Farrow & Ball

This is actually the picture that sparked my obsession with blue and white for my dining room and it's what drove me to pick this color (and special order it -- there are no Farrow & Ball stores in Houston!). In person, this color is a wonderful royal blue, without any of the darkness that can come with painting your walls navy. And it looks absolutely sublime with white. And speaking of white, if your looking for the right white to pair with your blue, I'd suggest any of White Dove (by Benjamin Moore), Simply White (by Benjamin Moore), Blackened (by Farrow & Ball) or Strong White (by Farrow & Ball).

Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball

This Miles Redd room is downright showstopping and not least of which because Redd lacquered the walls in Hague Blue. Deeper than Drawing Room Blue, this is more of a navy, but has a hint of green in it that gives it a lovely deep peacock blue color in certain lights. This room is also a great illustration of how using a high gloss finish with a dark paint can really bring a certain brightness to the room as light is reflected off the surface rather than absorbed by it. If you don't want to go with a high gloss (which isn't recommended if your walls are anything less than perfect), even a pearl finish can achieve a similar (though perhaps less bold) effect.

So what about you, do you have any tried and true blue paint colors? If so, please share!


Unknown said...

I have used a lot of blue in my current house, which I have been in for one year.Delphinium Blue from Valspar's Laura Ashley collection (I get the most complements on this one) in the formal living room. Shore Blue in the guest room and Atmosphere Blue in the attached bath, both from Restoration Hardware. Thanks for the color suggestions and examples. I still have some rooms to do.

Southern Aspirations said...

This is a fabulous post! I am working on tweaking/changing many of our home's wall colors and am thinking exactly of something like Feather Grey for our dining room. Great suggestions and helpful hints- thank you!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Oh goodness do I have a ton of blue in my house! However, if I had the energy to repaint I would definitely think about some of the colors you suggested - I'm especially loving Parma Gray and Drawing Room Blue (love that you used it in your dining room!).

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

I am loving blue too. The pastel paint samples on the left are my favs. Although the right would sure stir up some drama in a room.


Sarah Klassen said...

These are great examples! I actually painted my bathroom in Restoration Hardware's "Silver Sage" -- which is sort of blue with a touch of green and gray. I love it! It's wonderful to wake up to, cheerful, and so fresh with white.

I also love the "Feather gray" of your old guest bath...very lovely! and the image of "Drawing Room Blue" by Farrow & Ball -- a great example of how crisp blue and white can me. Gorgeous!

annechovie said...

Love that perfect shade of periwinkle, Averill. Great choice!

Kellie Collis said...

I adore Hague blue! And Chinese blue! x

Laura@JourneyChic said...

Love all these pics of my favorite color! We have Ben Moore's "Santorini Blue" in our master bedroom and I love it. It has a lot of gray in it, and really is the color of the sky on Santorini (we have pics from our honeymoon there above our bed). It's such a relaxing color that's perfect for a bedroom.

Beth Connolly said...

Thanks for the mention of my Chinese Blue door. I love Farrow & Ball because it is such a small collection. I think paint companies overwhelm consumers with too many choices. I have used F & B Parma Gray (which as you know is blue), Skylight, and Chinese Blue, but their colors are all gorgeous.

Couture Carrie said...

These blues are gorgeous! I especially love the periwinkle. And my bedroom is painted a very similar shade to that Drawing Room Blue!


Samantha said...

I've never been too good with blue, although I like a nice ice blue or a turquoise accent.

Have you seen this blue room?


Christy said...

I do have a blue master bedroom and bathroom, and our daughter's room is a couple of shades of mediterrean blue/green - I love those colors so much. But I don't know the names of any of them. I love all the ones you highlighted - particularly your old guest bathroom - just gorgeous. Can't wait to see your NEW guest bathroom.

We brought paint names with us from our old house so a couple of rooms are the exact same color as in our last house! Since we loved them so much, we thought it was a good idea and made it feel instantly like home!!

Jody Harrington said...

This post so reminds me of your great-grandmother. She LOVED blue and everything she had was in different shades of blue.

Kara said...

I'm a huge blue fan. I wish I could remember my shade of blue that I have used over and over again. It's a lovely soft blue/grey tone. It's pretty close to the "Barrowed Light" you picked.

Anonymous said...

Draftsman Gray, which is a Martha Stewart for Sherwin Williams color. The partnership is no longer, but you can still have her colors mixed. Luckily, between my friend and I, we have most of the chips. DG is a gorgeous, light to medium grayish blue with a tiny hint of green.

Dane said...

I am in lust for the Miles Redd Hague Blue lacquered walls. I was going to do my dining room in F&B's Brinjal until I saw that room a while back!

Now if I could only learn how to do the lacquered finish...sigh. Anyone know? email me!

Anonymous said...

We just painted our foyer Feather Grey and I have to say it looks to much like a blue-purple, almost periwinkle. I was really disappointed in how it came out even after I bought a color sample.

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