Decorating with blues

With the welcome arrival of beautiful blue skies this week I have been inspired to write about the merits of all things ‘blue’. So, whether you prefer your blues ‘warm’ or ‘cool’, I hope you will find my insights and tips useful.

I am frequently asked the following questions:

Can I use blue fabrics in a living room and bedroom as well as a kitchen and bathroom?

Which of your blues are cold and which are warm?

The answer to the first question is yes, blues are incredibly versatile and are suitable for any room as long as you add in an accent of a warmer colour for instance, yellow, terracotta, peach, a warm green or red.  Alternatively, a cushion, flowers, painting, sculpture or floor rug in these hues would be enough.

True to all colours, there are of course many different shades of blue; from the cool shades of Cornflower and Indigo to the softer Sky Blue and Speedwell. I consider my warmest shades to be Duck Egg, Teal and Powder Blue. And, we mustn’t leave out our prettiest blue, Forget-me-not!

Blue velvets and tweeds bring their own unique depth of colour and texture to rooms, especially when used on sofas and cushions. From Lake and Tarn velvets to beautiful Sea and Sky Harris Tweed. Please read on to hear more about these gorgeous fabrics later on in this letter.

The second question takes a little longer to answer… here it is…

WARM BLUES

DUCK EGG 

Duck Egg is my best selling shade of blue, inspired by Farrow and Ball’s ‘Light Blue’. I created my first ‘Duck Egg’ living room curtains 25 years ago, hand mixing the dyes and printing metres of fabric on my table tennis table. I was so charmed by this colour that I included it in all of my collections over the next 22 years, it has definitely stood the test of time.

The shade of this blue is not easy to describe…neither just blue…nor green, nor grey… but a blend of all of them. It is a colour that never dates in my view and is very easy on the eye; great in busy kitchens and living rooms, creating a serene feeling of calm.

My favourite fabric designs in Duck Egg are Cow Parsley, Acorn and Leaf, Swallow Dive, Down to Earth and Up the Garden Path to name a few. Many of my designs co-ordinate harmoniously with them from stripes and spots to plains…see my French Ticking, Stockholm Stripe, Pretty Maids and Plain Dotty in particular.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Up the Garden Path – Pumpkin

Plain Dotty – Cornflower and/or Duck Egg

Stockholm Stripe – Duck Egg, Pumpkin, Winter

Pretty Maids – Duck Egg, Pumpkin, Winter

      

Plain Dotty / Acorn and Leaf / French Floral

   

Flora & Fauna / Cow Parsley / Stripe and Dash

    

Gypsy garland /  Pretty Maids / Up the Garden Path

    

Pretty Maids / Cockerel & Spot / Stockholm Stripe

 

Cushion: Stripe & Dash in Duck Egg and Cornflower. Honeycomb Blanket – The main blanket colour is a light blue, with a stripe coloured edging available in the following two colour options: Saffron and Charcoal. With the screen, I re-covered it in 2001 using a different Duck Egg fabric on each panel. I still have it and all the fabrics are still current!

TEAL

Teal is a stronger shade, it is a rare combination of strength and quietness in one. There are few colours that you can use throughout a whole room and not feel utterly overwhelmed and this is definitely one of those. With such a breadth of tones it can cheerfully be employed for upholstery fabric, underfoot as rugs and on the walls as the backdrop. Teal takes its name from a bird named the ‘Common Teal’ which has a Teal stripe on its head. It’s essentially a mixture of blue and green.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Bird Hop – Tomato

Pretty Maids – Lime Green, Winter

Pretty Maids – Lime, Teal, Winter

Simple Ticking Detail – Teal

Stockholm Stripe – Teal, Tomato, Winter

   

Cow Parsley / Life & Eternity Ground / Pretty Maids

   

Branching Out / By the Sea / Up the Garden Path

   

Stockholm Stripe (left & right) /  In Full Flight

 

One of our useful cubes upholstered in Teal Branching Out & a melee of Teal and Lime green – so perfect for a hallway.

 

This vintage Danish sofa bed on the left is an eBay find and looks smart covered in Stockholm Stripe in Teal, Tomato and Winter. On the right, a home office in a spare room…with wonderful long Teal and Pigeon Cow Parsley curtains.

POWDER BLUE

My newest blue is called Powder Blue: a wonderful warm blue, making it a good choice for bedrooms as well as living rooms. One of my most popular Powder Blue fabrics is Fruit Garden along with its coordinates May Blossom and Sepals & Petals.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Acorn & Leaf – Straw

Espalier Stripe – Charcoal

Dainty Daisy – Charcoal

   

Espalier Stripe / Fruit garden Detail / May Blossom

    

Pretty Maids / Fruit Garden / Apples and Pears

 

In Full Flight / Sepals & Petals

  

My Powder Blue Apples and Pears blind looks so right in this wonderful traditional country kitchen. The May Blossom curtains soften the feel of the space. The Straw in Sepals and Petals warms up the room. Powder Blue In Full Flight, makes a stunning single door curtain here…

 

My wall covering in Fruit Garden Detail – Pigeon, Powder Blue and Straw, gives this room a Scandi feel. The tablecloth is made from Powder Blue Sepals and Petals, edged in Plain Linen Union in Mushroom. Here we have also used May Blossom in Powder Blue as pop of colour to jolly up this sofa.

COOL BLUES

CORNFLOWER

This is a denim blue, the perfect tone to go with Raspberry, Terracotta and Peach.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Fruit Garden – Peach, Smoke, Winter

Wild & Free – Terracotta, Charcoal

Plain Dotty – Cornflower

Lapland Stripe – Cornflower, Terracotta, Damask

   

Gypsy Garland / Fallow Deer / Cow Parsley

    

Lapland Stripe (left & right) / Plain Dotty

 

See how these yellow flowers warm up this scene. A Plain Linen Union Cornflower blue cushion with simple ties.

 

Again the Raspberry red pleated edge to this bed quilt warms up this blue attic bedroom. As do the small pouffe in raspberry red Simple Ticking Detail, red geraniums and red spots on the jug in Rose’s small painting! The red piping on the bolster cushion is another opportunity to add some warmth.

SOFT CORNFLOWER

 

INDIGO

Indigo is another dark blue, a little warmer than Cornflower and one which works beautifully when teamed with Kale or any green.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Sepals & Petals – Light Kale

French Ticking – Field Green, Charcoal

Plain Linen Union – Kale

 

Japonica / Shibori

 

Both Origami designs

 

A wonderful dining room decked with my favourite Kale and Indigo fabrics. Just such a great colour combination…there is nothing cold about this playroom. A very arty cushion in Origami Charcoal and Indigo on a Sweet Pea Plain Linen Union sofa.

  

Blues, greys and orange…very contemporary and the Japonica on the roller blinds makes the space light and airy.

SPEEDWELL and SKY BLUE

Speedwell and Sky Blue are both soft, delicate blues: Speedwell is warmer than Sky Blue as it contains a little dash of yellow pigment.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Acorn & Leaf – Duck Egg

Branching Out – Lily Pink

Shibori – Light or Dark Pigeon

May Blossom – Pigeon, Charcoal

   

Up in the Air / Fern and Dragonfly / Swallow Dive

  

Hand Printed Stripe / Tea Time

 

A speedwell Blue Swallow picked out of Up in the Air to make this patchwork cushion, along with a solitary Speedwell Fern and Dragonfly cushion, adding pattern to this room.

  

Speedwell teamed up with Lily Pink, Damson and Charcoal to make this fun and quirky Tea Time design. Sky Blue in all its glory here in the Feather & Egg design. This very simple one coloured print depicting many different feathers is one of my old favourites…

FORGET-ME-NOT

This is such an incredibly pretty blue so if you are looking for a fresh subtle fabric then this is the shade for you.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Plain Dotty – Duck Egg

Plain Linen Union – Duck Egg

Plain Linen Union- Cornflower

   

Shibori / Simple Ticking Detail / Momo

    

Little Leaf / Stripe and Dash / Down to Earth

 

My Sapperton Chair in Duck Egg and Forget-me-not looks so calm and gentle. Spot the Forget-me-not…it’s on the Swallow Dive cushion!

 

Little Leaf In Forget-me-not and Denim edges this Swallow Dive roman blind. What could be more useful than a Simple Ticking fabric: it goes with everything and is easy on the eye. Here in Forget-me-not and Kale.

LAKE and TARN VELVET

You might be surprised to learn that velvet isn’t actually a material at all; it’s a weaving technique which creates a soft, dense pile that covers the base cloth, forming the sumptuous, plush surface we all know and love.

Our velvet fabric transcends trends and styles beautifully. I selected a range of jewel-like colours that I think work wonderfully in any setting. Their luminous sheen makes them especially fitting for a glamorous room, but equally at home in relaxed or modern spaces.

A surprisingly practical option for any home, our velvet fabric feels and looks more luxurious than most textiles and just like leather (or fine wine) it only gets better with age.

Velvet is sumptuous, yet durable, oozes style and luxury and instantly adds texture, warmth and comfort to a room.

Here are two beautiful, blue velvets which I have chosen to complement my patterned fabrics.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Velvet – Marigold

Velvet – Honey

Gypsy Garland – Saffron

  

Velvet – Lake Blue & Tarn

Such a sumptuous mix of my two blue velvets…with a contrasting cushion in Honey Velvet.

SEA and SKY HARRIS TWEED

‘Harris Tweeds are the embodiment of the perfect natural woollen product.’

How do I incorporate Harris Tweed into my room?

My earthy range of Harris Tweed is woven exclusively for me on the small islands of Harris and Lewis. The tweeds are woven using 100% Scottish Wool and are soft and beautiful. These colours are amazing, seemingly singular, until you look closely and see that they are made from many soft colours all reflecting the natural Hebridean landscape.

My tweeds are a good weight, making them suitable for large curtains, blinds and cushions.

Please ask for fabric samples to see the colours in your rooms. If you order a half metre returnable sample you can hang it near your window and see how it looks and feels.

Suggested coordinating fabrics are:

Pretty Maids – Saffron, Winter

Pretty Maids – Duck Egg, Winter

Acorn and Leaf – Duck Egg

In fact many of my printed and plain fabrics!

 

Harris Tweed – Sea & Sky

 

A pile of tweed cushions including Sky and Sea. Sky Tweed makes a really warm bed quilt as you can see here.

BEAUTIFUL BLUES AT A SPECIAL WEDDING

My son, Ned married Kitty last weekend in our garden… the bridesmaids and pages, Ned and I all wore indigo blue by chance!

The sun shone and opened up a beautiful warm, calm world of cow parsley, aquilegia, hawthorn blossom, clematis, alliums and peonies…

A very talented local florist called Pearl from Millefleur made this amazing wreath for my front door, created bouquets like you have never seen before and decked an arch with wild and foraged flowers.

The flowers were grown in our next door village, Chedworth and supplied in buckets by Karen from Pancake Hill Flowers

Have you ever seen anything so natural and understated?  They are works of art and I will never forget them!

  

Bunches of garden and hedgerow flowers for the brides maids…Cow parsley and clematis welcoming guests into our house.

This looks so much a part of our wild garden…it was a wooden arch with absolutely nothing on it before Pearl got her very creative hands on it….the flowers at the sides look as though they are growing out of the ground. Ned and Kitty got married here. By the way, the arch was made by Ned over 11 years ago for a DT project at school, it was once a hammock support!

Decorating Tips, Advice, Styles and Inspiration

Want even more interior design tips and advice for your home? Check out our decorating guides to help you find your perfect style:

Decorating with yellows

Decorating with greens

Decorating with pinks

Decorating with patterns