Designer Palette: Watercolor Blue

Watercolor Blue

A room decorated with this peacock, ivory, and yellow palette can't help but feel happy. Trendy fabric motifs such as trellis and ikat feel timeless in blue and white.

Designer: Elaine Griffin

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

Start this scheme with a base of soft gray -- maybe on your walls or upholstered furniture. Then incorporate two different shades of warm blue, “a blue with lots of yellow undertones,” designer Elaine Griffin says. These blues will avoid giving off a chill. This scheme uses a pale sky blue and a peacock shade.

Apply one blue to an upholstered chair and the other to a painted piece of furniture (such as a desk or cabinet).

This scheme uses dusty lime, and a bit of buttery yellow as accents to contribute contrast and brightness. Use these colors on trims, accessories, and pillows.

For a more colorful scheme, select one of the blues to be your main colors -- the lighter shade for mellow look, the darker for drama -- and use the gray as a supporting color.

Watercolor Blue: Cottage Style

A blue-and-white color palette can exude cottage style. To emulate this style, include beaded board, wicker, and timeworn finishes.

Watercolor Blue in This Space: More subtle shades yield a softer look where the colors will read like neutrals. If you choose a lighter blue, be sure to dial back the other colors in your palette.

Watercolor Blue: A Classic

For a classic look, you can’t go wrong with blue and brown. Update the palette with green, ivory, and yellow. “Every room needs a bit of citrus for pop,” designer Elaine Griffin says.

Watercolor Blue in This Space: Instead of yellow, this room uses brown as an accent, which lends a more traditional look.

Watercolor Blue: Make It Eclectic

Give a classic palette a modern spin with clean-lined furniture, abstract art, and minimal accessories.

Watercolor Blue in This Space: Blue takes over as the main color, white shifts to the supporting-color status with dark blue, and green and yellow take up residence as the accents, proving that the colors work together in different proportions.

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Maple flooring: Olde Mille Autumn Leaves #866, Shaw Flooring;


Solid blue fabric: NY/Basics #30036-313

Use for: Large upholstered piece, such as a sofa

Cream textured fabric with blue and green stripes: Kravet Design collection #331416-35

Use for: Pillows

Blue-and-white geometric fabric: SC/Design #31201-1135

Use for: Curtains (with a lighter wall color) or pillows (with a darker wall color)

Ikat fabric: Kravet Design collection #31016-13

Use for: Pillows or ottoman

Solid cream fabric: Kravet Basics collection #30444-1116

Use for: Curtains (with a darker wall color) or small upholstered pieces, such as chairs


Trim with wood beads: Cabana tassel fringe #985-41249

Use for: Curtain or pillow trim

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