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Getting the “blues” is generally considered a bad thing. But I have to admit, any mention of the word blue makes me smile because blue is my favorite color. Up until a few years ago, my heart belonged to green. And while green and I are still the best of friends, I am now head over heels in love with blue and use a liberal amount of it in my decorating. If you would like to sing the blues with me this winter, here are some ideas for working this wonderful color into your décor.  Paint up a Blue Streak

I adore blue walls because blue typically looks terrific with just about anything you put with it. When I was developing my custom line of interior wall paint, I wanted to come up with a shade of blue that reminded me of my mother in law, Mimi, who was also a big fan of blue. Mimi brought a bolt of light blue fabric with her from Ireland that she used to make all sorts of things for her home. Dan and I dubbed the shade Mimi Blue. Front Porch, a wonderful light blue in my Mary Carol Artisan Paints line, is a close cousin to Mimi Blue. I adore this shade because it is so versatile it goes with just about everything, like camel, cream, red, pink, brown and navy.

If you don’t want to paint a room blue, why not a ceiling? When Dan and I moved into our historic fixer-upper, we had to pace ourselves with all the renovation projects we needed to complete to get the house up to snuff. The kitchen was among the last rooms we remodeled. By then, I had been living with someone else’s bold color choices for far too long. As a result, I was hungry for a soft, neutral palette so I painted the kitchen Garrity Cream, a warm, buttery off white. But I couldn’t stand to not have some color in the space, so I covered the ceiling in Front Porch. Similarly, I painted the ceiling of my screened porch Amelia Blue, a punchy shade of blue that’s also in my custom paint line. Having blue ceilings makes me feel I’m under sunny skies all year long.

If you are crafty, there is no end to what you can do with a can of blue paint. Why not give a dated piece of furniture a new lease on life by painting it a hip shade of blue? I like the blue wicker desk and chair pictured above because it’s times and feminine yet a bit funky. It would make a perfect bedside table or a space saving solution for a small home office. Scout in your basement, at estate sales or flea markets for great old pieces that need some TLC, like frames, bookcases or chairs, then zip them up with your favorite tone of turquoise, robin’s egg or periwinkle.

Fun with Fabric

The girls who work with me in the fabric room at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff like to tease that every one of the blue fabrics we get in is my “favorite.” They’re right! But how can you chose just one, when you know that just a few yards of blue fabric, whether it’s a playful floral or a sophisticated damask, can do so much to elevate the design of a home?

For instance, right now I’m upholstering lots of furniture in dark blue because this rich color is wonderfully dramatic yet versatile enough to act as a neutral. On the sofa pictured above, we picked a deep navy fabric that would hide soil, so it’s perfect for kids, dogs and men. Then we brightened the overall look of the piece by adding light colored accent pillows.

I’m over the moon about accent pillows. I think of pillows as the jewelry of your home – that small but mighty final touch that pulls together the look of an ensemble. Right now at Nell Hill’s, we’re selling tons of accent pillows in a bold blue ikat pattern. This ancient pattern that’s super hot right now looks wonderful on contemporary sofas and chairs. Or, use blue toile, floral and paisley fabrics to give your pieces a more romantic, classic feel. Or, do things the Nell Hill’s way – throw together a mix of modern and traditional fabrics in a range of blues.

If you’re thinking about remaking your bedding ensemble this spring, consider going with a blue and white color palette. You can’t go wrong with this timeless combination, which looks great in all four seasons. In the bed pictured above, we went for a romantic look using a divine lace dust ruffle, a floral coverlet and polka dot pillows, all in shades of blue and white.  But you could just as easily go with a bold, masculine look with these colors by instead picking stripes, plaids and paisleys.

Dish it Out

I have gone on the record as a confessed dishahaulic, and come clean about my obsession with the color blue. So, can you imagine how I feel about blue dishes? Blue and white transferware are one of my all-time favorite dish patterns because I love how these stately pieces of dish art are decorated, perhaps with a village scene or a still life. I use my blue and white transferware year round, remaking its look every season by adding appropriate touches. For instance, in spring, I like to pair my blue and white transferware with apple green accents. In the fall, I often mix it with orange.

This season’s line of whisper soft blue dishes is also to die for. Featuring just a hint of color, they look wonderful with white pottery and zippy turquoise accents.

Accentuate the Positive with Blue Accents

While only one room in my entire home is painted blue, you’ll find pops of blue throughout my entire house, thanks to a wide array of blue accents I like to mix in and around. I love to use a gamut of different shades of blue so each space has a unique personality, yet together, they still feel like a cohesive whole.

Blue and white Asian pottery is a bedrock of my decorating and a cornerstone of the Nell Hill’s look. These vessels are usually alarmingly inexpensive, yet are very dramatic and powerful. Without investing much cash, you can get a trio of beefy Asian urns to give life to the empty space above your TV armoire or the shelf above your two story foyer.

For a more contemporary look in your home, you might instead opt for blue pottery that features a different finish, like these unique pieces. In the Nell Hill’s style, you can mix these transitional pieces with something more traditional, like the small transferware plates you see stacked next to the vase in the picture above.

Next Week … I just got back from the huge home accent market in Atlanta, and I’m itching to tell you about this year’s hot new looks and some of my favorite finds.

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25 Responses to “Celebrate the Winter Blues”

  1. Linda Says:

    Love, love , love this week’s blog ! ! I also am a “blue person”. Every room in our home has a touch of blue in it – - different shades of blue – but none the less – - BLUE ! Wish you had more blue items for sale on your website for those people like me that do not live close to one of your stores. Thanks for celebrating the “winter blues” with us. Keep the good information coming to us.

  2. Lisa Fernandez Says:

    Can’t wait to visit your stores in September. I love everything you post. Lisa

  3. Patti G Says:

    Amen, Lisa! Everything she puts up is so worth reading and then looking
    at your home sweet home to incorporate somehow, somewhere.
    I still look at at the book with a list of “foot soldiers” MCG loves.

    Blue and white always speaks to a decidely clean, feminine, but not over the top girl.


  4. Merit Hellman-Funk Says:

    Mary Carol, Blue,,,,,,the blues,Since the Snow being crisp white, the blue of the Colorado skie are light like antique Swedish lightest of bluish grays. The blues of the ocean tha blends so well with your other best friend the greens. Being Swedish, I too love blue and together with blue a most delightful and cherry color like the sun of Sweden would be yellow. We love to set our sail boat on the bluest of waters looking up on the sheets( sails) and enjoying so many beautiful blues. You have the talent to make the best of all colors.
    Thanks, Merit Nothing like American Jazz and the fabulous Blues.

  5. Connie Bost Says:

    Mary Carol. I was in your Briercliff shop on Sunday Jan 30 and we spoke briefly. I’m in Lexington, MO and have a lovely collection of blue and white 1824 Staffordshire that I must depart with and thought it would go well with your collection of blue and white for others to appreciate. My home is up for sale and people ask me where I get my ideas and I recommend Nell Hills. Thank you for being there for us and shaing your many talents.

  6. Sue Tamulonis Says:

    I love blue also. My daughter is getting married in August and having navy blue bridesmaids dresses. We decided to use blue/white porcelan pieces for the flowers on the tables. We are so excited to incorporate our love of blue ware with her wedding. I would love to buy/find some Staffordshire blue/white to add to my collection. I too wish you had some blue/white ware on your website to purchase. I enjoy your books, don’t know when I will get to your stores. Love your site and blogs. Thank You.

  7. Bridget Says:

    Seeing pictures of that fabric room are calling me up to Briarcliff! Can’t wait to check out all of the new things. Blue is my all time favorite :)

  8. Pat Says:

    Hi: I was not a “blue person” per se, but then I found several pieces of Singapore Bird dishes and I was a goner. In summer, I use robin’s egg blue linen curtains in my living room and the dishes in my off white hutch. And I painted my master bedroom ceiling pale robin’s egg blue. Love, love it. Now, I’m hooked! Love you and your books and your ideas, keep it up. Pat

  9. Richae Says:

    Mary Carol,
    I am a Texas girl who LOVES her blue and white!! I moved to CT 3 years ago when I got married. We plan on moving back “home” in a couple of years… Until then I am stranded in the NE with limited Mary Carol!! Shopping here is scarce. I would L-O-V-E for you to carry more of your art, BLUE & WHITE, lamps and your many silver trays and boxes online. My best friend and I flew in last year for your fall open-house. We loved it and would love to come back – but until then online shopping is essential for me…
    Thanks again for all of your tips and fabulous taste!!

  10. Marilyn Says:

    I agree with all above who expressed an interest in buying blue-and-white on-line, also silver items, lamps, and pillows. We who don’t live in Kansas but love the Nell look would be so very happy! I’m a “green girl”, and have been since my first apartment (pink and green), but I recently redid my LR in greens and blues. Taupe walls, pale blue ceiling. Lots of blue-and-white ginger/tobacco jars.

  11. Debbie Says:

    Mary Carol

    I spent a week in Key West this winter (wonderful change from the Missouri snow we have been having) and loved how the porch ceilings were all a beautiful shade of blue or a minty green and lots of creamy yellow walls. My sunporch is separated from my kitchen with french doors. My kitchen is painted a dark rich red and I am wanting to paint the sunporch in the Key West colors. Am I crazy to try to mix light blue ceilings and creamy yellow walls off a room that is so dark?

  12. Cathy LaCount Says:

    I have been to your Atchison store numerous times and Briarcliff only once. I love your style! I have brown leather chairs and sofa in my living room along with two wing chairs. They were, 15 years ago, covered in navy chintz and are now covered in a forest, navy and rust plaid. I am ready for a change. I have wood floors and burgundy,gold and green rugs throughout. I have thought about slipcovers for the chairs. Any ideas for a color? Thanks so much.

  13. Claire Says:

    Hi, I too enjoy your blogs with your the beautiful furnishings you offer.
    I love blue, but found myself questioning how I could use it because my
    home is oklahoma wheat (creamy yellowish) (benjamin moore) with green, (all different shades) and perisimmon, brick
    Can you incorporate blue into a room that doesn’t have any?

    Avid reader, Claire from Long Island

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Debbie–You are totally NOT crazy to add some light walls off of your kitchen in your sunroom. If I could change it just a little bit, I would do a white or white wash on the walls (we have a beautiful ‘farmhouse white’ color in our Artisan paint line) and make the focus on the ceiling and paint a robin egg blue (our ‘amelia blue’ would be lovely). Have fun, it is always great to add new color.

  15. sondra Says:

    I’m told the reason porch ceilings were always painted sky blue was to trick the flies into thinking there was no reason to “land.” It does work.

    I visited Nell Hill’s last year and redid my bedroom. I just love it!!! Thanks to all.

    Love from Texas

  16. Alexandra Says:

    Blue and green are also my favorites; they are the colors in nature so we never tire of them. I have blue and white throughout my home as accents. Love this classic, British look!

  17. Brenda Thompson Says:

    Please add me to your email list……..can’t wait to make a roadtrip for a visit
    to Nell Hill. We have the winter blues in Denver and could use a little inspiration for spring! Great Work Mary!

  18. Mary Carol Says:

    Sue–In addition to our online shopping, make sure you look at our Facebook pictures everyday. You do not have to be a member to view, just go to our website, nellhills.com and click on Facebook at the bottom of the page. We post new pictures everyday from the stores and out of town folks are free to call the store-877-746-4320 to place and order.

  19. Mary Carol Says:

    Cathy–I am hoping you are able to come in the Briarcliff store and view all the many fabric options available to you. If you stay with your same rug it may hold you somewhat hostage to those colors. Hope to see you soon!

  20. Mary Carol Says:

    Claire–Blue is a great neutral. It’s always fun to throw in an unexpected color in a room-and blue definitely blends with your colors.

  21. Martha Says:

    Richae-I used to live in CT and know some of the haunts; but now I am down in Virginia. You and I agree, the trip to Nell Hill was awesome. I flew out there for the fall open house. It was lots of fun. I hope that I see you there at the next open house. Mary Carol and her staff do a great job and make it look easy.

  22. Pinky Says:

    I follow you on Facebook, now how do I follow the blog????? I can’t find a place to sign up to follow??? Thanks!!!!

  23. Safety equipment Says:

    Hey such a great blog it is well i like the colour Blue.And i like all the arrangements of all things like pots,Cushions,sofas with the blue colour.Its such a great work.

  24. Barb Says:

    Blue ceilings!!!! Always!!! It is so natural to have blue ceilings just like the sky! My home has had blue ceilings in the bedrooms for 20 years. I need to go with the palest of blues for the public rooms and just do it…..

  25. why is the sky blue Says:

    trying to find you, what is your myspace?

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