There's a reason why a blue is always in style: Depending on the shade, it's a hue can come off as evocative and moody, serene and calming, or bold and energetic—plus, it pairs beautifully with an equally wide array of colors. Since choosing the right one can be a daunting task, we've put together a list of designers' favorite tried-and-true blue paints, from palest powder to deep navy. Whether you're uber-traditional or super-modern, there's a perfect blue for you!
Use this chart as a reference guide before you head to the store.
Icy blues bring clear skies indoors. “For a client’s library that opens to a garden and pool, we chose this beautiful blue-gray to give the illusion of bringing the outside in," says designer Paloma Contreras, who matched Benjamin Moore's Water's Edge 1635 to a high-gloss lacquer for a mirror-like finish.
"There's a kind of clarity in the air after a rain, and this color has the same feeling. It suddenly makes the ceiling of a room seem taller, and the space somehow becomes larger. It totally changes the room's energy and makes you feel like you can finally take a big, deep breath!" says designer Katie Maine.
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"This icy blue has a cool crispness that's refreshing. I'd add fabrics in different tones of the same shade, like navy and slate, to create a layered, monochromatic look. Or you could bring in contrasting colors, like brown and red. The warmth and coziness of all the textures and tones make the room easy to be in," says designer Robert Stilin.
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"This has the coolness of a long, tall drink of water on a hot day. I use it frequently for ceilings because it's subtle. It catches your eye but doesn't yell. Or, if you want to dazzle, do it in high gloss on the walls, and the space will be electrified!" says designer James Howard.
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"I used this in the study of a Manhattan apartment with panoramic views out to the Hudson River. It blurred the edges of the walls and seemed as if the sky was lulled inside to wrap the room in one fell swoop. And the blue of the sky was reflected in the river. Spike it with shades of green, inspired by the treetops and lots of white," says designer Raji Radhakrishnan.
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Painting an office? Try blue. "Studies have shown that blue helps your ability to focus," explains Sheila Bridges, who used Farrow & Ball's Oval Room Blue for this room. "This particular shade has a little gray in it, and that makes it even more soothing."
"Some people would call this pale gray, but it actually has blue and purple in it. To me, it's the color of the fog out here in Seattle. I used it in a living room with massive windows overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and at certain times of the day, you couldn't tell the difference between the sea and the sky and the walls. They were all the same color," says designer Brian Paquette.
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"When you think of the color of a lake, you have to think about trees and shadows and clouds. It's muddled, like this gray-blue. It's not a clear jewel tone, like the ocean. The ocean, with its breaking waves, is all about energy. Lake water is more soothing. It laps at the shore. This gray-blue kind of washes over a room, and you don't see the clutter," says designer Susan Ferrier.
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"This is a romantic and charming blue with soft undertones of gray. For me, it embodies Paris in the rain — the silvery reflections on the streets, the misty sky, the coat-grabbing wind. It's a very soothing color, so I see it in either a bedroom or a breakfast room. Pair it with yellows and oranges to make the blue look even richer," says designer Ryan Saghian.
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Walls lacquered in in Pratt & Lambert’s March Wind help brighten this north-facing room in an apartment designed by Nick Olsen.
"I like real colors, as opposed to those that are just a hint of something. I love clarity, and this is a clear blue. Anything you put against it — a black bamboo bed, a bright abstract painting — will pop. And the light in the room takes on a wonderful atmospheric quality. You feel good in it," says designer Harry Heissmann.
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"Certain shades of blue immediately take me away to a tropical island, and this is one of them. Even though it's a medium-bright tone, it's still calming, yet vibrant enough to make me feel happy as soon as I enter the room. Add accents of tangerine and lime green to enhance the tropical flavor," says designer Debbie Viola.
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"In Turkey, the sea is so clear and so bright — a true ocean blue, like this color. You see the same blue in the tiles in the Blue Mosque. It has endless depth, and that makes it very calming. I'm imagining it in a high-gloss finish in an entry or a library. After all, it's only paint. Take a risk and go for it!" says designer David Phoenix.
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"This sitting room was inspired by the ethereal blues found in Kandinsky paintings hanging in the Hermitage Museum," says Kirill Istomin of this muted turquoise hue, Benjamin Moore's Thunderbird 675.
"Aqua is a calming color, which balances a fiery red-head like myself and makes for a pretty room. Actually, most people look good in aqua, and when you look good, you feel more confident. I often like to use a range of one color, so I might add a darker teal or Prussian blue. Red or pink would punch it up and give it more pizzazz," says designer Lindsey Coral Harper.
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"On vacation in the Caribbean islands, I was walking along a street and stopped to sit on a ledge so I could look down at the water, which was exactly this color. And suddenly, just three feet away, all these tropical fish were swimming by in the most amazing purples, yellows and greens. We humans can make many beautiful things, but nothing is more beautiful than what's already here in nature," says designer Erinn Valencich.
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When it comes painting to pint-sized rooms, designers often reach for a deep, dark blue, like perennial favorite Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball. "Because the library is small, it lent itself to a rich jewel-box treatment," says Jeanette Whitson of this stunning space.
"This is the deep, almost Prussian blue of the ocean in the Bahamas at low tide, and when you combine it with coral-colored fabrics, it's amazing. It vibrates in a wonderful way. I've also used it in a bedroom with blue-and-white toile. If you're doing a home anywhere near the sea or you simply want to remember the sea, this is the color to go with," says designer Alessandra Branca.
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"This painterly blue proves a color can be tranquil and exciting at the same time. You almost sink into the calmness, but it's still confident," says designer Mary Douglas Drysdale.
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"I'm a big blue-and-white freak. It says nautical, crisp and timeless to me. I painted my kitchen cabinets this great blue — almost a navy but with some periwinkle thrown in — and did white statuary marble on the countertops," says designer Dan Barsanti.
BUY NOW Farrow & Ball Pitch Blue No. 220
"A deep, dark blue in a dining room will evoke the deep, dark Atlantic. The paint finish is matte to absorb as much light as possible and let the objects arranged on it shine," says designer Tom Scheerer.
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