Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Bluest Blue

July's flower is Larkspur. A favorite in cottage gardens, larkspur is an upright Spring and Summer blooming annual. Also known as delphinium, the flowers on its long stalks range from bright white to soft lavenders and periwinkles to the more vibrant cobalts and indigoes you see here.

An al fresco bouquet of delphinium and cosmos via Martha Stewart Living

As July's birth flower, larkspur is said to symbolize an open heart and ardent attachment and to convey the feelings of lightness and levity. I would have to agree with the lightness and levity part. My Spring garden wouldn't be the same without the delphinium I plant each year. The bright blue color fairly leaps out of the garden and makes me happy every time I see it. It's not a shy color but it doesn't necessarily steal the show either. It seems to play well with all the other colors in my garden. So saturated are the deeper darker blues of this flower that Native Americans used them to make blue dyes.

This is not my garden but I'm sure you can see why I love that blue!

Color psychology tells us that blues are associated with serenity and calmness. Physical responses to the color can include a lowered pulse rate and body temperature. Blue is seen as "dependable" and "traditional". Americans have a deep connection to the rich, primary blue found in our nation's flag. It's the color of clear skies and open oceans. It's the color most often chosen by men as their favorite. While I can't say that I have just one favorite color, I will say that the bright, happy hue of the flowers in my garden each Spring is probably my favorite blue. And it's long been a decorating favorite too, especially this time of year. In the Summer months, shelter magazines and catalogs are chock full of this gorgeous color. Inspired by the larkspur, here is a bouquet of beautiful blue interiors I found to share with you; some brand new, some pulled from the archives.

In the short life of my blog, I've already used this Barclay Butera living room once before, but it's just too perfect for this post... and I love it so much, I'm happy to see it again!

A more traditional living room designed by Patricia Wood, mixes it up with multiple patterns on fabrics and porcelain accessories, via Beautiful Homes magazine.

The UK's Country Homes & Interiors featured this comfy indigo denim chair in their recent study of what they called "new country colours". Also note the bright painted floor, blue trim on the roman shade and fun rug with just enough of the same blue in simple, happy flowers. More flowers, delphiniums no less, fill a striped ceramic pitcher on the side table.

A great big blue armoire makes a statement in this otherwise neutral room, via our dearly departed Country Home magazine.

This Veranda cover story from September 2008 features a too-beautiful-for-words Jamaican getaway home designed by the fabulous Charles Faudree.

An outdoor living space overlooking the Arizona desert. Presumably, the blue upholstery was chosen to cool the Summer heat. Photo via

More inky blue upholstery on dining chairs via The floral drapes are fun too and notice how the designer tied the window treatments in the next room to these with blue trim on the valances.

Beauty industry heiress Aerin Lauder's East Hampton dining room as featured in Elle Decor. I'm torn about this one. Does the blue wall complement or obscure the heirloom porcelains?

Michael S. Smith designed this gorgeous tile and used it as wainscoting in the living and dining rooms of a Portugese Colonial-style home near Santa Barbara, CA. Photo via Smith's book "Elements of Style".

Those in the know about color theory say that blue is the least appetizing color. It is sometimes suggested that dieters should eat on blue dishes in order to quell their appetites. And yet, blue remains a popular color for kitchens. Recently brought back into production, England's T. G. Green Cornishware, as seen in the collection below, sets the stage for a traditional scheme in the country kitchen of a renovated Pennsylvania schoolhouse. Photo via

Historic blue and white: Claude Monet's kitchen at his home in Giverny, France, was undoubtedly inspired by his beloved gardens and is as striking now as it was 100 years ago.

Fast forward to the future: a bright cobalt blue enlivens this modern kitchen via Domino's "The Book of Decorating".

Blue is a natural for the bath. The color of water is said to represent calm and serenity. This vibrant bath, via, might not be so calming if you don't really love a lot of blue. But I'll bet it would be really energizing on a busy morning.

More relaxing perhaps is this contemporary spa-style bath. Lots of white, a paler blue on the walls, chocolatey brown woods and then just a pop of cobalt in those vessel sinks and a few accessories. Photo via

Clearly, I have no control over my love for Barclay. Wouldn't it be wonderful to step out of that spa bathroom above and into this beautiful bedroom? I think they look great together.

More bedroom blues, from a special-interest publication featuring French country decor, in a layered, multi-patterned, country-style bedroom.

A contemporary bedroom, via, also uses a playful mix of patterns. The cool blues are warmed and grounded by the wood headboard and nightstand.

Count on Pottery Barn to bring on the blue and white in heavy doses every Summer.

Now this is what I call serene. Cloud white walls and linens. The variety of blues and patterns on the bed, floor, at the window and on furnishings is very pleasing, not at all busy. And can you see that there are four different blue and white upholstered chairs in this one room? I don't know what I'd do with all of them--or when I'd have four people seated in my bedroom--but I love that they're there. And how can you not love that vaulted, beamed ceiling and a fan to keep the cool breezes blowing? Heaven. Every bit of it.

photo of the most perfect bedroom ever via

Can't get enough of blue and white? You need this book by tastemaker, trendsetter and lifestyle expert Carolyne Roehm.

In it, you'll find images like these: a collection of fine porcelain ginger jars and vases and lamps... well as this lovely, casual tablescape...

... and this blue and white ensemble dressing an eighteenth-century Chinese chippendale bed in a guest room in the author's own home.

If you love blue and white and doing your own home decorating, you'll want to get this book too... as much for its pretty cover as for all the great ideas and how-to advice inside.

In last month's post about roses, I finished up by saying that I wondered if I would be able to find a larkspur tattoo as easily as I had found the rose tattoo I featured there. Guess what! Within minutes, I found two. On the left, below, is the ankle of a woman who adorned herself with her husband's birth flower. On the right are the feet of another woman who goes a little further than a single birth flower. The flowers on her left foot represent family members. You can just see a bright blue larkspur bloom on the far right of this arrangement. And, in case you're wondering, the fish on her right foot are meant to represent herself and her two sisters. I don't remember why. Why fish. Why those colors. Why any of it.

I hope you're enjoying these monthly posts because I'm having a lot of fun putting them together! Next month: the gladiola. Should I try to find another tattoo?

** Here's a fun coincidence: the lovely Maria Killam at "Colour Me Happy" is talking about this color too. As an expert color consultant, educator and interior designer, she talks about color all the time and illustrates her theories with brilliant examples. Go take a look. You'll learn a lot. I always do.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love blue in the garden. It's always so special.
And blue and white rooms always seem so cool and fresh for summertime, no mater the temperature outside.

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I love the blue flowers, my favorite hue for the exterior, but I have to admit, it is not for me inside...thanks for visiting, loved your comment.

Maria Killam said...

Hi Tracy,
This colour is the exact shade of blue of the post I just wrote so I included a link to yours at the bottom of it! Beautiful! And I love the name of your blog! I'm glad you posted a comment on my blog!

Anonymous said...

Do you have any suggestions or pictures of a green accent color with blue?

Tracy @ comfortandluxury said...

Hi! and thanks for your questionp. If it's this vibrant cobalt, bright periwinkle type blue you want to pair with a green, it's important to know how your room will be used and how you want to feel while you're in it. That's where we'd start anyway! I'll find some examples of blues and greens that work together and put together a quick post in a couple of days. If you get back to me here with more details about your space, I'll be happy to address your needs more directly at the same time!

KayEllen said...

Love all your blue inspirations Tracey very pretty!

Have a blessed Sunday:)


Content in a Cottage said...

Tracy...I enjoyed all of you photographs featuring blue. Blue and white checks have always been a favorite of mine. Love the blue flowers too. Thanks. ♥Rosemary

Arianna Belle said...

Love it! Especially the blue walls in the bathroom -gorgeous!

Rebecca@Harmony and Home said...

Hi Tracy,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet comment. I like your post! The blue dining room and that tile in the Michael Smith pic are my favs.


Blushing hostess said...

Yes, that is a great book. And so many pretty pics, thank you so much. I just tripped into this blog, it is lovely. Thank you for having me, I will read along!

sallymandy said...

Thank you for all these many photos of lovely uses of blue. I found your blog from Maria Killam's blog. Very nice!