Tuesday, July 14, 2009

BLUE + GREEN. A Question Asked and Answered.

Among the comments on my last post, The Bluest Blue, was a question regarding accenting blue with green. I asked "Anonymous" to get back to me with more details... how the room is to be used and by whom, is the blue in question the same bright cobalt I was featuring, how should the room feel i.e. calming, energizing, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't get any more information about what 'Anonymous' is really looking for. And since there are so many questions to be asked and answered, it's difficult to make a real recommendation in this format. I can only attempt to answer in a very broad way with a bunch of photo examples. Here is my response. I hope it helps.

Dear Anonymous:
You are in luck! You could not have asked this question at a better time. Right now, the summer issues of shelter magazines are full of images combining all shades and hues of blue and green. I suggest that you run! immediately to your local bookstore or newsstand and buy these three: August House Beautiful, July/August Veranda and July/August Southern Accents. Here's a sampling of what you will find inside each.

This photo from House Beautiful is my favorite image from all three of these issues. It's a painting by Sarah Graham in the room designed for the Kips Bay (NY) Decorator Show House by the incomparable Bunny Williams. The jewel tones of the art and the wall it's hung on could inspire so many beautiful rooms. The thing is though, this room isn't really all blue and green as this photo might suggest.

Here's another view of the same room. Leading me to say that if you love the idea of using blue and green together but not to the exclusion of any other colors, I don't think I've ever seen a prettier, richer example of how to do it. The caramels and browns and bright tangerine balance the intense turquoises and greens on the walls and in the artwork. You really must see all the photos and read the text to even begin to understand how beautifully well this room works. Bunny is the best.

This next series of images show rooms that do use blue and green exclusively. What you should notice is how the use of neutrals around the blues and greens helps set the tone of the room. This summery beach house bedroom, for example, uses bright white to accent the yellow-greens and watery blues which keeps the room bright and happy... perfect for young children.

This more grown up bedroom also uses white as the neutral background and accent but here it's a softer white and there are some creamy off-whites and golden accents on picture frames and such to warm the space. The combination of periwinkle blue and apple green doesn't lose it's fun punch though.

This third blue and green bedroom is more sophisticated. There are fewer and more subtle patterns. The blues and greens are more subdued and far outweigh the white accents thus lending a darker, cozier feel. The golden tones of the carpet have a grounding influence and relate to the brown undertones of the olive green walls.

In other rooms, blue and green are used in ways that might not make them the star of the show, but certainly they play an important role in tying things together. This tiny photo doesn't begin to do justice to this room designed by Joe Nye, also in the current House Beautiful (an outstanding issue this month!). In what initially looks like a jumble of objects and patterns, you'll notice the unifying colors of blue and green: screen, end tables, lamps, lampshade, pillows, and little bits here and there among the books and art.

In Southern Accents, designer Juan Montoya used blues and greens and creams in the upholstery and carpet to great effect. Not only do they accent the fantastic textile art on the wall, I think they also serve to cool down the golds and coppers that, alone, might read a bit too warm in this Florida home.

Artwork is a great place to find color inspiration. And it doesn't have to be art that you actually have in your home. A photo like the one below of the Apalachicola River, found in Southern Accents, might inspire a room like the one that follows.

The variety of blues in the sky and water can all be found in this room designed by Janie Molster, also featured in this month's Southern Accents. The strip of gold/green/brown land between water and sky can be found in the wood paneling and green upholstery and accents. You might also notice that the river photo and the room both feel much more masculine than feminine.

Here's a photo I used in a previous post. It doesn't get more summery than this. Blue skies, sandy whites and the mixed up blue/green/aqua of the ocean.

And here's the room, from Veranda, I think it could inspire. Furniture that looks like driftwood, sandy travertine floor, airy space-expanding white all around and just enough watery seaglass-colored accessories to perfectly mimic your memories of a day at the beach.

Finally, two images from House Beautiful's "The Home Book" that are not for the faint of heart or commitment-phobic. If you really love blue and green and are willing to go all the way in a big way, follow the example set by these two rooms. The first is a super mod living room with a wall mural straight out of a Southern Colonial mansion... if it weren't for the overly vibrant hues. The second is a kitchen... quite probably the biggest remodel investment you might make in your home. This is a blue and green combo you're going to live with for many years and, if it pleases you, I say go for it!

So, Anonymous, there you go! I hope this post at least sets you on your way to discovering which blues and greens you like together and which ones you might want to use in your current decorating project. The only thing I'll add is "keep your eyes open". Look everywhere for inspiration... books and magazines of course, but also notice the artwork you pass in a hallway, the colors in your neighborhood gardens, clothing and window displays at the mall... color inspiration can come from anywhere. Good luck and have fun!

All photos from the three magazines and the book specified in the text with these exceptions: first and third bedrooms are from countryliving.com, second bedroom from House Beautiful April 2009, and beach photo is from an unknown site on Flickr.


Sharon Colaco D'Souza said...

Loved the images. just goes to show that with the right things on hand, green and blue are gorgeous together. I keep going back to your first image - the fabric print looks so Indian!:)

Do stop by to participate in a lovelypendant light giveaway!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

One of my absolute favourite colour combinations ever! I often wear it as well.

Maria Killam said...

Another stunning post, I'm glad I've discovered your blog, I'm going to add you to my blogroll next!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Excellent post, Tracy. Love these photos, too. Makes me want to put some blue and green together somewhere! :-)

Anonymous said...

What a great post! I LOVE these colors and these photos are awesome. Thanks for stopping by to visit me today!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I am not a blue person at all...I would never use it in my own home and try to avoid it in the jobs I do. However when teamed with green I do find it quite beautiful. You have some great photos too. Thanks for visiting my blog as it brought me here. I am going to go look around a bit now...

Michelle said...

Great Post! Blue and Green should be seen!!! Lovely and cooling in hot weather.