Mad About . . .

Colour Psychology: Blue

4th June 2019
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Blue is the world’s favourite colour. Time after time in surveys this restful shade comes out on top. In 2017 Dulux, which sells in 80 countries around the globe, chose a soft greyish blue as its colour of the year and last year Farrow & Ball included a version in its new collection.

kws loft with velux window

hague blue walls and tiles by marrakech.se at madaboutthehouse.com

Dulux’s decision was based on an international panel of experts who look at social trends, economic forecasts, fashion and food to see what direction the world is heading in. The answer was Denim Drift – a colour of our everyday, said the company. It’s the sky above, the clothes we wear and it unites all the other colours.

wordpool rug and eye cushions by Quentin Jones for Habitat

wordpool rug and eye cushions by Quentin Jones for Habitat

Pantone also announced a strong cobalt blue as one of their colours of 2017, so it doesn’t matter which of the many variations of this shade you prefer, there’s going to be a lot of it about for some time to come. Farrow & Ball, who only produce new colours every three years included a soft Denim (De Nîmes) in their latest collection and I understand that when the magazine Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms post a navy blue kitchen on their feed, their likes shoot up.

rug on seagrass at sophie robinson

rug on seagrass at sophie robinson and her own secret linen store bedding collection

The Victorians thought that blue kept flies away so their kitchens were often painted blue for hygiene reasons in the pre-refrigeration era. Other research, since slightly debunked, but worth a go if you’re desperate, found that serving food on blue plate makes you eat less.

cobalt blue hall (lapis by zoffany) at Sophie Robinson

cobalt blue hall (lapis by zoffany) at Sophie Robinson

It has also become the colour of communication. Colour theory says that’s yellow, but if you look at the logos of both Facebook and Twitter, it would seem that blue and white has taken over in the online world at least.

Shaker Kitchen by Devol

In its darker form – navy – blue has long been a fashion favourite and there is barely a house in The Hamptons which hasn’t made a nautical reference in its décor somewhere with a soft blue and white palette.

This is a colour universally associated with conservatism and a sense of old fashioned reliability. Looked at from the other side, blue also conveys a sense of authority and trust. It is not a colour that likes to be rushed, but to reflect and analyse. There is nothing spontaneous about blue.

farrow and ball inchyra blue gloss and matt

farrow and ball inchyra blue gloss and matt

But what about the feelings it evokes? As with all the colours on the wheel, there is both positivity and negativity.

Blue is also a shorthand for feeling slightly down in the dumps. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly refers to feeling blue “because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all”.

On the other hand, blue is a deeply calming colour, one that evokes thoughts of reliability and responsibility. Think of lying on your back staring up at the sky and letting your worries drift away. Or sitting on a beach and watching the waves wash away your problems.

light by houseof

When it comes to interiors, blue tends to make decorators nervous as it is a colour that can appear cold. While there are many shades that are from the cool end of the spectrum – and should help to avoid heated arguments and to lower blood pressures – it can also be a strong warm colour.

Navy blue has been gathering momentum in interiors recently as the fashion for dark neutrals is growing. Dark colours on your walls make everything else stand out.

blue cupboards in the home of Philippa McFarlane @sandrock

blue cupboards in the home of Philippa McFarlane @sandrockhouse

Pale shades of blue with their calming attributes work well in bedrooms. A stronger blue, as the colour of communication, might encourage a spot of breakfast chat in the kitchen which might be handy if you have teenagers.

As for what to pair it with? Well yellow is its opposite on the colour wheel so that will always work. Move slightly round and you get to dark blue with orange – think of the spicy colours of North Africa. A more watery blue with natural floorboards will evoke the idea of sand and sea – a more relaxing combination would be hard to find. And while the old adage – blue and green should never be seen – might hold true for many, there are plenty of shades of each that do work in harmony.

In other words, using blue doesn’t need to make you feel blue.


Extracted (and updated) from Mad About The House, How to Decorate Your Home with Style

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  • Mandy Winters 7th June 2019 at 7:47 am

    I always look to nature. The peacock shows us how to do blue and green. Just look at the decor of Leighton House too ( Alma Tadema’s House).

  • Anna 5th June 2019 at 3:32 pm

    Of course blue is a favourite, from blue glass to blue patterned china.
    I have discovered that whilst pale blue in a north facing room can be most uncomfortable…inducing the feeling that you are in a fridge! Dark blue in a north facing room, especially one leaning towards royal blue can look fabulous.
    There is nothing to beat a blue sky!

  • Nicola 4th June 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I like blue but really feel that partnering it with yellow has been so overdone it now sets my teeth on edge!

  • SFord 4th June 2019 at 11:02 am

    Planning F&B’s Oval room blue for our main bedroom

  • Corinne Twining 4th June 2019 at 7:55 am

    That’s right, blue doesn’t have to be a cold colour. And remember the old adage “Blue and green should n’er be seen”?(depends on how old you are!) That’s been knocked on the head as well

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