Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unexpected Warmth

No, I'm not complaining about the too warm weather again. But, for the record, it is finally beginning to cool enough here to believe that it really is fall. Rather, this post is about the unexpected warmth that can be found in a blue room. Most often, we think of blue interiors in terms of crispy cool blue and white beach houses, watery blue bathrooms, little boy's bedrooms and very traditional spaces along the lines of this

and this.

But use less vibrant though still cool blues and substitute creams for the bright whites above and right away you get a warmer look like this

and this, below. Still light and wide open like the best beach houses, but a bit warmer and a little cozier. Notice too the references to fall in the photo below: a gourd on a shelf, rustic basket on the table, and an arrangement or golden-hued flowers. Sometimes it's the smallest details that make the big difference.

Bring back the vibrant blues of the first two photos but balance them with warm woods, creams and tan on walls and fabrics and lots of layered accessories and textures and you can have your blues and cozy too. Warmer still.

Warmest of all, the following spaces feature ample doses of gold and orange on floors, walls and ceilings. Textural fabrics like wool, velvet and chenille are warm to both the eye and hand.

There are warm blues, of course, but more often it seems the temperature of the blue used in a room is less important than the colors used around it. Set off by bright whites, pastels or citrus shades, blue takes on the perceived coolness of swimming pools and oceans. In other spaces, the blues below might appear icy and cold, but here, because of the other elements in the rooms, the overall look warms up.

The room below, by the incomparable Phoebe Howard, may be my favorite blue room ever. Notice how prominent the blue wall is. A periwinkle shade that could read very cool if treated differently, becomes a beautiful counterpoint to all the browns and golds and dusky greens. Texture is also important here. Warmth is found in weathered woods, glinting gold on picture frames, carved and patinaed accessories, the fireplace mantel, the velvety fabrics.

The image at the top of this post is an entry vignette by designer Jeffrey Bilhuber. Everything about it says warmth and welcome.
Countless studies have confirmed that blue is America's favorite color. I imagine that's in some part because true blues are happy, energizing and very familiar. Blue is, after all, the color of the sky and water we see all around us every day. Familiar is also comfortable. And much comfort can be found in a warm, blue room.

DON'T FORGET: I'm hosting Mood Board Monday this time! Go to this post to see the inspiration items and get your mood board ready for the McLinky party on Monday, November 9th. Go to Room Remix, where PK started Mood Board Mondays, to see all the creative results of the last challenge. Please come play with us! No competition—just fun.


Jennifer, Inside Out Colour and Design said...

Isn't the weather weird. It's meant to be warming up here and the last few nights I would've liked to be in that room with the fire blazing. I do like blue but funnily enough haven't any in my house at the moment - not in decor anyway. I love the 4th image. I could see myself sinking into that sofa with a good book - if only!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

I love the pictures you used as examples, Tracy. I really like how you can see the blue warms up with the wood tones, a cream color and that one picture with the stone fireplace {and striped couch}.

Anonymous said...

Loving the muted blues with the creams and beiges.

Had to LOL at the pic of the 80's blue gingham sofa. My mom had that SAME SOFA!! Finally convinced her to update- and she went to red gingham...ugh.

Melanie said...

All the pictures are so pretty and I love blue in everyone else house but not mine. I just can't go there. I will see something that I love but for some reason it is just not me. Maybe it has to do with the BLUE carpet I put in my house 22 yrs. ago:) LOL It scarred me for life.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that it's finally cooling down for you! Great post. I like all of the examples that you used. I don't have any blue in my house right now. Maybe someday?

pk @ Room Remix

Sarah said...

Oooh, awesome post, Tracy! Well thought out and explained brilliantly with all those pics. I definitely think a blue room can still be warm. And I am always sad when someone thinks they can't decorate for fall because their rooms aren't orange and brown. I hadn't heard of Phoebe Howard before I started blogging, but I looove her now. Can't wait for Mood Board Monday:) And thanks for the tip on vacuuming floors!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Love Phoebe Howard. Her rooms always look so comfortable and inviting to me. Great collection of rooms here--thanks for the eye candy! :-)

TheCluelessCrafter said...

Not surprised blue is America's favorite color. Glad to know this tidbit.

I think I need to incorporate darker blues into my sky blue mix.

Windlost said...

Oh, I love these bits of blue. It is my favorite colour and I am always drawn to blue rooms!

Thanks for your long comment on my "I am tired" post. I wasn't going to post what I was feeling, but I decided to be "real" and talk about how I was actually feeling on that particular day. I think we all have those overwhelmed or "I'm not enjoying this" days. It happens at this time of year. i am a struggling perfectionist and trying to learn to accept that my house/body/stuff may not always be perfect and that that is totally FINE!

Self-acceptance and peace with the world around you, just as it is, is a lesson we all should strive to learn. So many of us push ourselves too hard. I remember my Grandmother always sat down when you came in and never seemed busy, although she had 12 kids and a chaotic house full of grandkids half the time. I never heard her talk of "too busy" or stress once. I am sure she had it, but she always seemed to have her priorities straight. A modest house, moderately clean, good home cooking but never too fancy, and TIME for visiting. It is people not things, after all, that this is all about!

Thanks for sharing!
xo Terri

Things That Inspire said...

What a beautiful post! I love the color blue - to me, it is the most tranquil, calming color. I have had a blue bedroom since I was 18 and went to college, and for the first time was able to make a decision about my color all started with a Laura Ashley blue and white ticking stripe comforter, which I still have and my daughter takes to camp with her!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I love the combination of blue and brown. I did a client's bedroom in those colours a couple of years ago and I was so restfully pretty. Lovely images here, as always!

High-Heeled Foot in the door said...

Lovely, lovely post! So happy I found your blog today! I picked a good day! What amazing images! One more beautiful then the next!

Struggler said...

I love those warmer blue rooms you found - it's a great color and when paired with golds/tans I think it's a lovely year round option. Otherwise, I'd worry about doing the paler/crisper blue shades as to how they'd look, and feel, on a bleak January day.
Great tour of the blues!

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Hi Tracy! I was given the Kreativ Blogger Award yesterday and I'm passing it on to you. Just posted on my blog.

Manuela@Pleasures of Homemaking said...

Those are beautiful rooms you've chosen! I'm not much of a blue person. My bedroom is is robin's egg blue but other than that, I really only like it in other people's homes.