For years, interior design has been in a color-conservative period, with only the strictest non-colors being considered neutrals — and a cool gray or “greige” being king. However, people lately are rediscovering the joy of adding color to the home with “near neutrals,” versatile colors that can act as neutrals yet still inject some energy into a color scheme.
The hottest of them all? One could argue it’s sky blue. This timeless color has become a trendy yet classic choice for adding life to decor of any style, without clashing with other colors or overloading the senses. If your home is feeling a little ho-hum, maybe sky blue is the new neutral for you.
Stephen Graver Ltd, original photo on Houzz
Sky Blue and White
A blue sky with white fluffy clouds is a classically beautiful sight we could stare at all day. One of the reasons sky blue and white are such a powerful pair is that bright blues help white appear extra-white, meaning white cabinetry or porcelain will look simply striking.
Another reason is that the combination looks so natural that the blue can almost go unnoticed. The supersaturated sky blue shown here isn’t overbearing, and the room still ultimately feels like a coveted “white kitchen.”
Try Benjamin Moore’s Breath of Fresh Air for a breezy sky blue that you can almost never use too much of.
The whitening effect of sky blue is especially noticeable in a bathroom with a classic white sink and tub. The porcelain will pop, as will other accents like baseboards, trim and frosty glass lamp shades.
And since it’s sky blue, why not use it overhead? Colored ceilings are a tempting trend that some are wary of trying, but nature has already trained our eyes to expect this color overhead. It feels so natural, in fact, that you might not even immediately notice a blue ceiling when you walk into a room.
It can also be effective for giving a bathroom without windows the feeling of having a skylight, making this a great option for condos and apartments. Plus it’s a very doable one-day DIY project.
AM Dolce Vita, original photo on Houzz
Sky Blue With Neutrals
Mixed with a diverse palette of neutral hues (such as taupe and gray), sky blue injects a sense of color without drawing so much attention as to break up the breezy atmosphere. In fact, the way it contrasts with a warm neutral like sandy beige helps bring out the hidden undertones. Notice how the slightly off-white sofas and thin golden bar cart pop against the soft blue curtains in this photo. The overall effect is subtle and peaceful but not drab.
Sky blue also holds up to dramatic modern patterns. Try mixing it with high-contrast black and white and moody grays.
Sky Blue With Bold Color
The real magic of sky blue, however, is in how it can mix with bold hues as well as with quiet neutrals. Like a great pair of jeans, a blue wall can disappear into the background when used with more colorful pieces, so the overall look is color-rich but not clashing.
Country Kitchen, original photo on Houzz
As I’ve written about before, blue is strikingly beautiful as a tone-on-tone look, with contrasting shades coordinating easily even if some have hints of differing undertones. This kitchen eschews super-safe navy for a mix of two bright blues, yet it doesn’t feel loud or busy.
Mitchell Berry Architects, original photo on Houzz
Because blue is a near-neutral rather than a true neutral, it can actually help bridge the gap between the neutrals and the vivid colors in a room, making the entire space feel more harmonious. If this room had neutral walls and upholstery, the Persian-style rug would be a major contrast, but here the many elements keep the eye moving without things feeling overwhelmingly eclectic.
The adaptability of blue makes it a great choice for areas that are sometimes filled in and sometimes empty, such as a coat nook or the back of a shelving unit.
Bigtime Design, original photo on Houzz
Sky Blue With Cool Materials
Midcentury modern chairs in cool plastics and funky forms can sometimes come off as a little too cold. Ironically, the natural vibe of a sky blue goes a long way toward making these forms warmer, more welcoming and a little less serious. For a fun twist to any space, try a blue molded Eames chair or some airy blue-tinted glass pendants.
So go ahead, dream of a blue-sky world — and make it happen at home.