Whether you’re a do-it-yourself interior decorator or you plan to hire professionals, you want rooms that reflect your taste and style. Every design decision you make starts with the color scheme you choose—and that can be the most difficult selection of all. Rather than give up and go back to white walls, think blue, and use these ideas to organize and simplify your choices.

Modern Blues

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Centering your interior palette around blues gives your rooms a fresh, clean look that appeals to any eye, adds a rich, elegant touch, and elevates the look of your living space. From deep tones that transcend pink-and-blue gender stereotypes to glowing turquoises that invoke beautiful jewelry, the blues can build a library of color that you carry throughout your home, all with a cool sophistication that gives your rooms a relaxed style.

Once you decide on blue as your focal tone, the rest of your decor decisions must harmonize with it. Alongside a dominant motif, your color scheme needs other hues to provide accents and invoke special moods. How you choose these additional shades determines whether they add interest and excitement or introduce a jarring note into your peaceful home scene.

Seek and Find

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If you’re redecorating but not replacing every item in your home, you can choose specific blues and look for accent colors in the prints and patterns on large items such as rugs, furniture, and artwork. Upholstery patterns and other textiles, paintings and prints, vases and sculpture, even favorite flowers can contribute to your decor scheme.

Color Theory

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When you look at color, think of it in terms of the three aspects that determine how it appears. Its hue defines whether it looks blue, red, orange, or some other shade. Saturation ranges from vivid to dull, with fully desaturated colors turning gray.

The final component, brightness, expresses the lightness or darkness of the color. To build a library of blues or find variations on an accent color, modify one of these three components at a time to produce related shades that work well together.

As you select colors, remember the color wheel that expresses the rainbow. Adjacent colors on the wheel can convey a casual, relaxed mood that works well in a bedroom. Opposite colors can add tension that fights with the purpose of a room.

Start Formal

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Look for interesting ways to use blues in the large, formal spaces in your home, including the living room, dining area, entry or foyer. Add a contrasting accent that moves through these spaces and can carry into other smaller areas, including family and media rooms, home offices, and bedrooms.

Use this accent in its brightest form in your largest rooms, and implement a darker, desaturated version of it elsewhere. This way, a scarlet tone from a treasured vase becomes a muted merlot in media-room pillows or bedroom trim.

Follow the Earth

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Think of your home’s interior as a miniature version of the outdoor world, with the darkest colors in the earth underfoot, the midtones at eye level in trees and shrubs, and the lightest shades overhead in the sky. Follow this simple planning recipe to make any room attractive without wracking your brain to choose interior design colors.

The results translate the vertical balance you see around you every day and avoid the top heavy, compressed look of dark ceilings looming over a light-colored floor. To carry blues into this nature-based plan, your ceilings become the sky.

Watch Your Wardrobe

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The clothes you wear feature the colors that make you feel comfortable and attractive. For example, if your skin includes olive tones, you probably avoid wearing yellows, and if your wardrobe swings away from brights or pastels, you can take further cues from these elements of your personal style.

To make your rooms comfortable and enjoyable, pay attention to your overall preferences as you select interior color schemes. If you really want to replicate a color from a favorite sweater or a prized bracelet, bring the item to the paint department. New color-scanning technologies make it possible to sample an object digitally and produce a custom paint formula to match it.

Translating Swatches Into Reality

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Paint swatches help you build a real-world reference to a color scheme. Virtually all paint manufacturers create color sets ranging in brightness from a jewel-like or dark dominant color to nearly sheer pastels. To build your own color set, cut the shades you want out of the multi-color strips.

Despite the fact that these swatches accurately reflect the paint colors they represent, they don’t give you the full picture of how they’ll look on your walls.

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The small rectangular sample on a swatch can’t convey how overwhelmingly bright a vivid tone would look on a large wall area, or how muted a desaturated pastel would appear in the same place. Take advantage of home improvement stores’ sample-size paint containers, and take home a small amount of the shade you think you want so you can apply it to a test area.

Think Moods

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Individually and in combinations, colors can bend your mood and change your outlook. Some people feel rested and relaxed amid the cool, dim look of darker tones. The same shades make others feel gloomy and depressed without the addition of light colors to invoke sunlight and add brightness.

Likewise, interior color schemes that stay entirely within a monochromatic palette give some people a sense of harmony and order, while others find them too matchy-matchy and conservative. Always take personalities and mindsets into consideration when you select blues or any other interior design colors for your home.

The Magic Ratio

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The rule of 60/30/10 provides you with an easy formula for deciding where to place each of your interior design colors. In this planning scheme, 60 percent of an interior represents the dominant color, typically on walls, which constitute the largest decor area in most rooms.

A secondary color appears on 30 percent of the space, including upholstery, curtains, carpeting, and rugs. Apply an accent color to 10 percent of the space, using pillows, small paintings, vases, and temporary decor items such as fresh flowers.

Bedroom Specialties

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How you decorate your bedroom goes a long way toward determining how you feel in it. Pull blues from your upholstery or bedspread into the rest of the space to accentuate the bed, or (if you’re deep into a full-room redo) go the opposite direction and select bed covers that echo your dominant colors.

To advance your blue color scheme further, consider shape as well as tone, and build or commission a custom headboard to center the room around special shapes, fabrics, and textures. A one-of-a-kind bed makes a strong statement about your originality and taste, starting with curved forms and adding metal trim, inlays, leather, and exotic woods.

Beside your bed, tables add elegance and practicality in one item of furniture. For a conservative look centered around symmetry and balance, select two matching tables, one for each side of the bed. To add a carefree charm, use reclaimed objects as stands, reupholstered and refinished to suit your blue decor.

Look for interesting pie safes, end tables, small chests, and ottomans at a thrift store or auction, and redo them to suit your interior color schemes.

Ready, Set, Go!

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Experiment with your favorite blues to produce a lively but relaxing set of interior design colors that suits your personal style. Got a problem or question? Use the comments below to get our professional input, or give us a call for a full consultation.