How to Design with Blue

written by:
January 25, 2013
Blue: the color that helped catapult the careers of artist Yves Klein and musician Miles Davis, the most-prized and most-expensive hue in the Renaissance. We also think it makes for striking design accents, from vibrant cobalts to soothing navys. Click through the slideshow to see inventive applications of the color.
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  The owner of a Brooklyn apartment got her hands dirty during the rehabilitation of the 19th-century duplex. She glazed and fired bright blue scalloped tiles to cover the walls and ceiling of the bathroom, giving the space a soothing, undersea vibe.  Photo by: Paul Barbera

    The owner of a Brooklyn apartment got her hands dirty during the rehabilitation of the 19th-century duplex. She glazed and fired bright blue scalloped tiles to cover the walls and ceiling of the bathroom, giving the space a soothing, undersea vibe.

    Photo by: Paul Barbera

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  The plush blue sofa in architect Lucy Marston's Suffolk farmhouse adds an electric pop of color and contrasts nicely with the bright orange pendant lights that hang above the adjacent dining table.  Photo by: Damian Russell Courtesy of: Damian Russell

    The plush blue sofa in architect Lucy Marston's Suffolk farmhouse adds an electric pop of color and contrasts nicely with the bright orange pendant lights that hang above the adjacent dining table.

    Photo by: Damian Russell

    Courtesy of: Damian Russell

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  Architect Matali Crasset transfrormed a centuries-old French farmhouse into an idyllic country getaway. The updated interiors include children's rooms cast in blue. A playful pencil-themed desk and stool combination by Pierre Sala complements the blue of the walls (courtesy of the French paint brand Zolpan) and curtains.  Photo by: Jonas Ingerstedt

    Architect Matali Crasset transfrormed a centuries-old French farmhouse into an idyllic country getaway. The updated interiors include children's rooms cast in blue. A playful pencil-themed desk and stool combination by Pierre Sala complements the blue of the walls (courtesy of the French paint brand Zolpan) and curtains.

    Photo by: Jonas Ingerstedt

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  In the bathroom of a space-saving Brookyln renovation, almost every surface is covered in square blue tiles. The resulting space feels roomy and relaxing.  Photo by: Gile Ashford

    In the bathroom of a space-saving Brookyln renovation, almost every surface is covered in square blue tiles. The resulting space feels roomy and relaxing.

    Photo by: Gile Ashford

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  The cabinet system in a minimalist California kitchen features a pair of custom-built blue sliders, which turn cooking into a playful game of Tetris.  Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

    The cabinet system in a minimalist California kitchen features a pair of custom-built blue sliders, which turn cooking into a playful game of Tetris.

    Photo by: Eric Staudenmaier

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  In a Brooklyn brownstone renovation, a mostly white bathroom receives some pops of blue color from a series of towel hooks, a step stool, an under-sink storage unit, and a large frame around the mirror.  Photo by: Matthew Williams

    In a Brooklyn brownstone renovation, a mostly white bathroom receives some pops of blue color from a series of towel hooks, a step stool, an under-sink storage unit, and a large frame around the mirror.

    Photo by: Matthew Williams

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  In a renovated apartment in Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park urban renewal project, floor-to-ceiling glass makes for ample natural light in the eating area, while the Vitra wall tiles spanning a spectrum of blues provide a contemporary touch.  Photo by: Raimund Koch

    In a renovated apartment in Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park urban renewal project, floor-to-ceiling glass makes for ample natural light in the eating area, while the Vitra wall tiles spanning a spectrum of blues provide a contemporary touch.

    Photo by: Raimund Koch

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  Color is important in architect Dieter Van Everbroeck’s work, and he was eager to apply his color theories, derived from modern artists like Yves Klein and that most color-oriented of modern architects, Le Corbusier, to his own home. “I always suggest using bold colors to clients,” he says. “It gives more clarity, it means you can focus on certain parts of a building." The cloakroom/bathroom block at the main entrance has been painted in blue and green on alternate walls (according to Le Corbusier, blue and green negate and dissolve space.  Photo by: Hertha Hurnaus

    Color is important in architect Dieter Van Everbroeck’s work, and he was eager to apply his color theories, derived from modern artists like Yves Klein and that most color-oriented of modern architects, Le Corbusier, to his own home. “I always suggest using bold colors to clients,” he says. “It gives more clarity, it means you can focus on certain parts of a building." The cloakroom/bathroom block at the main entrance has been painted in blue and green on alternate walls (according to Le Corbusier, blue and green negate and dissolve space.

    Photo by: Hertha Hurnaus

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  Maggie Treanor opted for charcoal-blue accents in her rural Ontario home.“In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials," says architect Lisa Moffitt. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” The house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold moments of green and blue.  Photo by: Derek ShaptonCourtesy of: © Derek Shapton

    Maggie Treanor opted for charcoal-blue accents in her rural Ontario home.“In contemporary construction you have a layered approach to materials," says architect Lisa Moffitt. Everything is on top of something else. We tried to avoid that.” The house’s materials are few and hardy: polished concrete, maple, and Douglas fir, and white walls with a few bold moments of green and blue.

    Photo by: Derek Shapton

    Courtesy of: © Derek Shapton

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  Dieter Rams’s modular 620 Chair Programme, Artemide’s classic Tolomeo floor lamp and a rich blue Portofino Bergère chair that was designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for Minotti hold court in the Balcones House's living room.  Photo by: Brent Humphreys

    Dieter Rams’s modular 620 Chair Programme, Artemide’s classic Tolomeo floor lamp and a rich blue Portofino Bergère chair that was designed by Rodolfo Dordoni for Minotti hold court in the Balcones House's living room.

    Photo by: Brent Humphreys

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  Inside iconic designer Jens Risom's Block Island prefab cabin, a relatively new Rais wood-burning stove is next to a Risom Rocker from Design Within Reach, a 2009 piece from the designer. The green-blue shelf offsets knickknacks and books displayed in the rustic interior.  Photo by: Floto + Warner

    Inside iconic designer Jens Risom's Block Island prefab cabin, a relatively new Rais wood-burning stove is next to a Risom Rocker from Design Within Reach, a 2009 piece from the designer. The green-blue shelf offsets knickknacks and books displayed in the rustic interior.

    Photo by: Floto + Warner

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  Pieces from B&B Italia's Metropolitan line outfit the living room of a recently renovated Joseph Esherick house in the Berkeley Hills.  Photo by: Caren Alpert

    Pieces from B&B Italia's Metropolitan line outfit the living room of a recently renovated Joseph Esherick house in the Berkeley Hills.

    Photo by: Caren Alpert

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  Designers Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama kitted out their London guesthouse with many of their own designs, including this sky-blue bench and storage rack.  Photo by: Ben Anders

    Designers Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama kitted out their London guesthouse with many of their own designs, including this sky-blue bench and storage rack.

    Photo by: Ben Anders

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  The traditional facade of Doug Skidmore and Heidi Beebe's Boise home reveals little of the modern addition in the back.  Photo by: Lincoln BarbourCourtesy of: ©Lincoln Barbour - All Rights Reserved

    The traditional facade of Doug Skidmore and Heidi Beebe's Boise home reveals little of the modern addition in the back.

    Photo by: Lincoln Barbour

    Courtesy of: ©Lincoln Barbour - All Rights Reserved

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  In keeping with Jaime Hayon’s goal of creating a serene and airy home, the master bedroom and sticks to a mostly neutral palette of whites and grays. The blue bench by the bed is a custom piece designed by Hayon and his wife, Nienke Klunder, and fabricated by their carpenter friend Josep Joffre.  Photo by: Nienke Klunder

    In keeping with Jaime Hayon’s goal of creating a serene and airy home, the master bedroom and sticks to a mostly neutral palette of whites and grays. The blue bench by the bed is a custom piece designed by Hayon and his wife, Nienke Klunder, and fabricated by their carpenter friend Josep Joffre.

    Photo by: Nienke Klunder

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  The eye-catching blue of the modest 1,690-square-foot vacation home owned by Montrealers Yves Bériault and Diane Decoste is very much of a piece with the rest of Havre-Aux-Maisons’ vibrant residences. “We wanted something lively for the house, something spectacular but not vulgar, so we looked at yellows and reds,” says Bériault. Decoste and architect Marie-Claude Hamelin, of Montreal firm YH2, settled on a cerulean blue inspired by the sea, the sky, and, as Hamelin puts it, “a child’s chalk. The architecture on the islands is rather naive, so we wanted to evoke that childlike quality in the color.”  Photo by: Matthew Monteith

    The eye-catching blue of the modest 1,690-square-foot vacation home owned by Montrealers Yves Bériault and Diane Decoste is very much of a piece with the rest of Havre-Aux-Maisons’ vibrant residences. “We wanted something lively for the house, something spectacular but not vulgar, so we looked at yellows and reds,” says Bériault. Decoste and architect Marie-Claude Hamelin, of Montreal firm YH2, settled on a cerulean blue inspired by the sea, the sky, and, as Hamelin puts it, “a child’s chalk. The architecture on the islands is rather naive, so we wanted to evoke that childlike quality in the color.”

    Photo by: Matthew Monteith

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