Designer Palette: Aqua

Aqua Palette

This energizing palette soars. Conventional yellow and blue get a twist with pale aqua standing in for a more saturated hue. Poppy red ratchets up the interest. This youthful color combo turns fairly simple fabrics into something really special.

Designer: Khristian Howell

Getting Started:

Use a ratio formula to help you put together a color scheme. Choose one main color to serve as 40-60 percent of your color palette, then one to two supporting colors to comprise 30-40 percent of your color palette, and fill the remainder with one to two accents. Thinking of color this way can help you determine how much of each color to use. Go to the next slide to see how this scheme breaks out.

The Colors

For a color saturated look, apply aqua to your walls or a piece of upholstered furniture. Yellow is a sunny complement to the aqua and can be used on window treatments and smaller upholstered pieces. To ground these bright colors, accent with peacock (a more saturated version of aqua) and ruby red, and give the eye a rest by incorporating a soft grayed white.

Keep in mind that this scheme can also be used with neutrals as the foundation. Where you plan to apply color, utilize aqua in the most predominate way (such as on window treatments or small upholstered pieces). Incorporate yellow on a smaller scale, such as on throw pillows and decorative accessories, and fill in with the supporting peacock, ruby, and gray-white.

Aqua: Cool vs. Warm

To determine if a shade of aquamarine is warm or cool, designer Khristian Howell recommends holding the paint chip next to something yellow. When they are side by side, you’ll see the yellow (or warm) undertones come out in the aqua if the shade is warm. A cool version of aqua lends more sophistication and serenity.

Aqua in This Space: Green replaces yellow as one of the accent colors for a beach-inspired look. Leafy green draws out the cool green tones of the aqua walls.

Aqua: A Bit Green

Aqua is simply a shade of blue that leans green, and it can give a fresh update to a classic yellow-and-blue color palette. Pairing aqua with a sunny yellow helps retain a bit of the tried-and-true scheme.

Aqua in This Space: Leaning into green territory, this aqua shade also has a bit of gray in it, which plays well with the wood tones.

Aqua: Finding Balance

“Being bold is all about balance,” designer Khristian Howell says. In other words, don’t use aqua on every surface in the room. It doesn't take much to make an impression, especially in a room full of grays, creams, and whites.

Aqua in This Space: In a light-filled breakfast nook, aqua is still the starring color, even though it is used spairingly. To give all of the colors in the palette play, consider adding them as temporary elements, such as napkins and dinnerware that will work with the aqua but not overpower the light space with color.

Get the Look!

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Yellow dots and squiggles fabric: #21009-610, Eileen Kathryn Boyd

Use for: Chair

Yellow trellis fabric: #15430-268 (in Canary), Eileen Kathryn Boyd

Use for: Poufs and pillows

Cream-and-blue burst fabric: Seaglass #15361-619 (in Aqua), Eileen Kathryn Boyd

Use for: Poufs and pillows


Ikat fabric: Seaglass Elements book #2676, Duralee;

Use for: Poufs and pillows

Striped fabric: Clementine #180931H-652 (in Tangerine), Duralee;

Use for: Bench


Aqua paint color: Tame Teal SW6757, The Sherwin-Williams Co.;

Use for: Walls

Red paint color: Gladiola SW6875, The Sherwin-Williams Co.;

Use for: Painted furniture

Give a room a new look by decorating in blue. A blue room can take on different styles and looks, depending on what hues you use. See how to create a blue color scheme and start crafting a blue look for your own space.

More Tips

Watch and learn more tips for decorating in blue.

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