Decorating with the color blue

When decorating my home, I always begin with a neutral base. I paint or wallpaper in pale shades. I lay light-color area rugs over the dark hardwood. I arrange the larger furniture pieces, which are mostly solid and off-white. Then I start adding color.

My relationship with most colors flips from hot to cold and back again, depending on the day and my mood. But there’s one color that I have never grown tired of, and over the years, it has become my constant decorating companion: blue.

Not only does blue pair especially well with all the off-whites and creams in my house, but the color combination reminds me of the ocean, which makes me feel soothed, relaxed and content whenever I’m at home.

(What’s your favorite accent color? Let us know in the comments section.)

Blue can be found all around my house. It’s the ceiling color on the front porch (Buoyant Blue by Sherwin-Williams), the trim color on the curtain panels in the living room, the background color of the wallpaper in the dining room and the wall color above the white wainscoting in the guest bathroom (Oxygen by C2). I have a light blue leather-bound dictionary on my bookshelf, and during the winter months, a blue cast-iron cook pot can usually be found sitting on the stove.

When the interior side of my front door needed to be repainted, rather than going with white again, I chose a pretty shade of pale blue (Enamelware by Martha Stewart). Later, I had a Roman shade made with blue-and-white fabric I had leftover from a previous project.

It turns out that I am not the only one with a major crush on blue.

Last fall, AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paint company and maker of the Glidden brand, conducted a color survey spanning 30 countries; it concluded that blue was the most popular color around the globe and the least disliked by most cultures. According to the survey, 42 percent of men and 30 percent of women chose blue as their favorite color.

I contacted Barbara Richardson, the director of color marketing at AkzoNobel, to get the lowdown on blue’s far-reaching appeal and the best ways to incorporate the color into a home.

“Blue is a beautiful, clean color that’s grounded in security and in nature,” she says. “It’s a confident color that you just feel very secure in.”

While blues evoke a sense of security, Richardson said, different shades elicit other feelings, too. Light blue, for instance, feels innocent; navy, stately and authoritative; bright blue, playful and fun; and blues with gray undertones, more refined.

And the robin’s-egg blue that I always fall head-over-heels for?

“That’s a very confident and classic kind of blue,” she says. “It also has the essence of nature to it. As blues become more green, they become more complex, they take on a bit more sophistication.”

Richardson said the blues in my home probably work well because I use them as accent colors against a sea of off-whites, camels and creams. The color might not have the same effect, she said, if I used too much of it in a single space. Not only can an overabundance of blue come across as cold, she added, but too much of a good thing can have the opposite desired effect.

She told me about a beautifully painted gray-blue house near her home that she admired. The color was so stunning that neighbors decided to paint their house blue, too.

“It was horrible,” she said. “It wasn’t exactly the same shade of blue, but one just took away from the other.”

While I silently seethed on behalf of the original gray-blue homeowners, I asked Richardson what my affinity for blue says about me.

“People who like blue are very confident,” she says. “They make great friends. They want everything to be peaceful and harmonious. You probably like a sense of orderliness. In a world of craziness, you probably want serenity.”

That’s exactly what I want, and exactly how my blue door makes me feel each morning when I open it to greet the day.

Chat Thursday at 11 a.m.

Join staff writers Jura Koncius and Terri Sapienza for our weekly online Q&A on decorating and household advice.

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Read previous columns on redecorating with what you have and finding the ideal paper planner.

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