Betty Bluper thought she had chosen a fantastic pale blue wall color. Please read what she had to say.
I only discovered your blog a few days ago. I think I was up until 3:00 AM the other day because I couldn’t put it down. Thanks.
I hate you, now.
Seriously, I’m joking. The truth is, I wish I had found you a month ago. We just painted our living room. I wanted it to be one of those soft silvery, calming light blue wall colors I see all over the place.
I chose what I thought was one of the best light blue wall colors I’ve ever seen. It looked amazing on the paint chip.
The painters came. I went to work, and nine hours later, I returned home. And, well, the light blue paint color was a lot more BLUE-BLUE than I was expecting. But, there wasn’t enough time to do anything about it. You see, in three days, my husband’s sister and husband were coming for a visit.
And, I had to ensure that everything was dry and put back. Did I mention that S-I-L is having her first baby in six months?
They arrived right on time. (Always.)
However, I was so busy mopping up the glass of chocolate milk my four-year-old had just dumped all over the dog, the cat, and himself. The rest of it resided in a splatter radius of eight feet.
Fortunately, my DH arrived home from work an hour early and was there to greet and entertain the inlaws until I could make myself semi-presentable.
I like my S-I-L. But, for some reason, I’ve never felt that I quite measure up as she’s super beautiful and talented. Yes, that’s my problem, I’m sure. However, she looked quite happy to see me.
And, then she said, with a beaming smile in our freshly painted LIVING ROOM, “Betty, this is absolutely the perfect shade of BABY BLUE for our new nursery. I just found out that we’re having a baby boy! Oh, please be a dear and tell me what is this baby blue paint color?”
I tried so hard to smile, but I had a pressing urge to slap that happy grin off her face.
However, God came in to rescue me as, at that very moment, I realized that the roast was burning and ran into the kitchen.
Oh, Laurel, I wouldn’t have slapped her; I was just embarrassed. And, that’s because she’s right.
Even more depressing is that the color is even worse during the day. In fact, my sister-in-law never mentioned wanting to know the color again.
How could this have gone so horribly wrong?
The color looked so beautiful when I saw it online.
And, I worked really hard to find out what it was, too. I asked the designer on HOUZZ and was so thrilled when she let me know the name of the paint color. It was one of the best light blue wall colors- ever. In her room, that is. Maybe she lied? I don’t know.
Oh, just so you don’t think I’m a complete idiot, I did check out the color before bringing the two gallons home. As I said, it looked beautiful on the chip– in the store, that is.
Maybe you could turn this into a blog post if you think there’s a lesson here.
Please tell me that others have made this mistake.
Thanks so much,
Not only have others made this mistake, I’m sure that I have too, at some point. But, I’ve probably blocked it out. Believe me. I’ve made 100s of mistakes when decorating. If it makes you feel any better, you can read about some of the more hideous ones here. However, that’s how we learn. Hopefully. :]
And, for 21 common decorating mistakes, click here.
Okay, this IS a great topic and for numerous reasons.
Actually, there was more than one mistake made. But, please don’t beat yourself up!
Gosh, they don’t even teach this stuff in design school. They should, but they don’t. And, they don’t teach it anywhere else, either. Well, except for here and maybe some other interior design bloggers. So, how are you supposed to know the pitfalls of choosing paint colors, particularly the more tricky light blue wall colors?
Below are the three main problems I will address when selecting the best shades of pale blue paint colors, or any color, for that matter.
- One – selecting a paint color from a magazine, website or book, brochure, etc.
- Two – understanding that the paint color doesn’t stand alone.
- Three – not understanding how to select a color. Here’s a very good post that goes over that in detail.
Above is an image I’ve shared on the blog before from Pottery Barn. I Adore that Covington Faucet! The last time I posted this image, at least a dozen people asked me for the paint color and the wallpaper.
This is another topic, but I hope you’ll understand that unless it’s my room you’re seeing, I almost definitely won’t know the color or anything else in the room without researching it.
Now, I’m going to demonstrate the problem, aside from the fact that this is not my room, and I have no idea what the ACTUAL color is.
And, even if I knew the name of this pretty light blue paint color, I can pretty much guarantee that it’s not going to look the same in your home.
Let’s look at the space below.
Let me ask you. If I shared this image on the blog, would you be frothing at the mouth, dying to know what this wall color is? Most likely not.
BUT wait! It’s the SAME pale blue wall color as in the Pottery Barn bathroom.
So, why is it that you aren’t jamming my inbox wanting to know what it is?
Does anyone want to tell us why?
Okay, don’t all shout it out all at once. ;]
Alright, I realize it’s disgustingly hot and you’ve had a tough day. So, I’ll just tell you what most of you already know. ;]
You far prefer the boy’s room pale blue paint color in the Pottery Barn bathroom because the bathroom is gorgeous and charming. The boy’s room is nothing special.
Will the room become more special with a different paint color? No, the paint color will not do much to make it more memorable. The reason is that paint colors are only one aspect of creating a beautiful room.
Okay, haha, after saying I don’t know what the wallpaper is, I accidentally discovered that the wallpaper is Atelier Oiseaux Et Fleurs by F. Schumacher.
You can purchase the paper here if you’re not in the trade.
But, let’s bring down that image from Pottery Barn again.
Right. This is another problem. The wall color in the image above is not a good match for the wallpaper sample. When doing wallpaper, you must have the sample of the paper AND, if possible, a CFA (cutting for approval) of the current dye lot.
And, that is BEFORE you select your perfect pale blue wall color.
Above is a color-corrected version of the bathroom. I based the new color on the sample I found online.
Above is a third version of the Pottery Barn bathroom I found. Will the actual light blue paint color please stand up?
The reality is, I could’ve posted any one of these three images of this lovely bathroom, and, I’m quite positive, I would’ve gotten the “Laurel-what-is-that-gorgeous-light-blue-paint-color-question.
Which one? As you can see, there are three variations of light blue paint colors. However, as I hope I’ve demonstrated, it is not the wall color making you swoon.
Therefore, the precise wall color is irrelevant.
I repeat. The precise wall color is irrelevant. What IS relevant is how a color looks in your space and with the other givens surrounding it.
Do you think that this is an isolated example?
No, it’s a prevalent issue.
Above is an exquisite entry to an award-winning home by Suzanne Kasler. Suzanne, one of my favorite interior designers, is the queen of pale, watery ethereal light blue wall colors. And, BTW, I’ve met her a couple of times, and she’s exceedingly lovely and humble.
However, I found another image of the same room.
The lovely furniture is Suzanne’s design for Ambella Home.
But, do you see that this image differs from the one on top?
The first pale blue room came from Suzanne’s website. The bottom one the internet. I imagine the one on Suzanne’s site was color corrected as images straight out of the camera tend to have some color distortion.
Did you know that?
And then, there’s the situation of our computer monitors. The colors vary there, too. So, when we see an image online, most of us don’t know if the image has been color corrected or not.
***Therefore, if you see a color somewhere that you like, try to find a paint color that matches WHAT YOU SEE. And, looks the way you’d like it to in your space.***
I can’t stress this enough. It would be best if you did everything as close to how it’s going to live in real life as possible.
And, even then, please test your color(s) before it goes all over your walls.
One other thing. Please do NOT take the wallpaper to the store to have them computer match it. I did that very early on in my career. It did not match. Fortunately, the clients were either color blind or didn’t care. Phew! I dodged that bullet. It wasn’t horrible, but it could’ve been a lot better. Coincidentally, it was a wallpaper from Schumacher.
So, now we’ve addressed problems one and two. Please bookmark this post. It’s super important. Most mistakes are made when we try to take shortcuts. It’s not advisable.
This brings us to the third issue: selecting which of the light blue wall colors is best for your room. Pale blues are more challenging to choose if you’re inexperienced and only looking at a small paint chip.
The best light blue wall colors frequently look drab and dull on the paint chip. But, when they go on the wall, the blue really pops out. That’s why some blues can go quite intense even though they don’t appear that way at first.
And, then it’s important to remember the following when selecting all paint colors:
Please do not put any size sample flat on a table unless it’s the table you’re going to be painting. It needs to be FLAT against the wall.
Do not select a paint color IN the store. The lighting is going to be different than in your home.
Also, please resist the temptation to look at the paint chips on the way home.
For rookie designers out there:
Please do not select a paint color while looking at it in your own home. Believe me. I can’t tell you the number of times I had it “all figured out” in my home, where I worked. However, it was not good when I got to the client’s home!
Now that I’ve scared the living crap out of you, ;] I’m going to share some of my favorite light blue wall colors.
Some of these are in the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collections and some are not. And a few others in the collection are not listed here.
I’m also going to share some images. None of the photos are mine, and in almost every case, I don’t know what the actual paint color is. Therefore, it might look like the color name underneath, but I can’t guarantee that.
There is a chart coming up with the paint colors to pin to your Pinterest boards.
Here are some beautiful Benjamin Moore Pale Blue Paint Colors
GRAY SKY 2131-70
LOOKOUT POINT 1646
GLASS SLIPPER 1632
HEALING ALOE 1562
Click here for a home I did a while back with Healing Aloe.
QUIET MOMENTS 1563
This is one of my all-time favorite go-to colors and is especially lovely in bedrooms. In addition, it is a color loved by both men and women.
ICE CAP 1576
For more terrific bedroom ideas, click here.
And some more terrific bedroom paint colors you’re probably not using.
SEA FOAM 2123-60
More furniture by Suzanne Kasler for Hickory Chair. The fabulous Chinoiserie wallpaper panels are by De Gournay.
SILVER CREST 1583
I don’t think the walls are actually blue here, but this has to be the most beautiful eating area I’ve ever seen! I would be the one who would slobber marinara sauce all over the settee and, while I was cleaning it up, would knock the coffee over.
If this were my dining area, I wouldn’t serve my guests anything but saltines and seltzer. ;]
By the way, those gorge chairs, I recognize as one of my faves from Hickory Chair by the wonderful Suzanne Kasler. Love the floral fabric on the back. Really smart.
Another fabulous Suzanne Kasler for Hickory Chair vignette. Gorgeous wing chair.
I designed some wing chairs for a client and myself that were almost identical about 19 years ago.
And, don’t forget the ceiling! A pale blue-green-gray is fantastic on the ceiling.
Another Suzanne Kasler beauty with furniture for Hickory Chair
For more wonderful ceiling colors, click here.
Suzanne wrote a beautiful book that came out a few years ago. Click the link for more info.
I adore these Pagoda Lanterns.
They are the Mykonos Medium lantern from Visual Comfort. There is also a smaller version available. But, the medium is pretty significant.
PICNIC BASKET CSP 730
We used this Benjamin Moore light blue wall color in a master bedroom, and it’s quite lovely. Picnic Basket has a lot of green and gray in it.
A wonderful blue-on-blue Bedroom by Alexa Hampton
This is not a representation of Picnic Basket; just a beautifully done blue-on-blue bedroom.
CRYSTAL BLUE – 2051-70
This isn’t Crystal Blue, but not too far off. It’s a strie of these two colors, MYSTICAL BLUE 792 glazed with FADED DENIM 795. Actually, this looks nothing like those two colors!
WOODLAWN BLUE HC-147
Woodlawn is the bluest of the light blues here, but it’s a definite winner!
Please pin to your Pinterest boards for reference.
Please pin to your Pinterest boards for reference.
If you’d like to see a post about some deeper blue paint colors, click here.
This post has some even deeper blue colors and shades of navy.
Also, this post on cool gray paint colors has some colors that read more blue than gray.
PS: Please check out the newly updated hot sales One Kings Lane surprised everyone with a one-day-sale of 25% off!
You’ve probably mentioned this before somewhere, but color is like music! If someone held down a solitary C-note on the piano, you probably wouldn’t say “wow, what a lovely note!” But if that C was played in a simple melody, you’d wonder what the notes were so you could play it, too. 🙂
Thanks for a lovely posting, as always. Have I missed a beat? Your nine fabulous BM pale blue colors–are they identified?
I used BM Gray Owl in my south and west facing living/dining room combination. In the space, it’s a beautiful barely there blue. I loved it so much that I used the same color when painting my bedroom, which has smaller windows and faces north. Huge mistake, the color looks like a drab gray with green undertone. Always test color in the specific space. Natural light can change a color dramatically.
Renovating my kitchen with indigo cabinets what color should I paint the inside of the cabinets ?
Indigo to match the outside ?
Great point on the design work making the biggest difference on why the same color works in one room, but not the other. Those are also very pretty blues to recommend. Thank you!
Thank goodness I found you before I painted our newly remodeled bedroom. I have loved Wythe Blue (HC-143)
For a long time and thought that was it. THE color for that space. I got the sample and we hated it in the space with the afternoon light. It looked weird. So I looked at other light blues. Nope. But Beach Glass 1564 looked great in that space. If you had not stressed time and time again to see the actual paint in a decent sized sample I might have had to live with something we didn’t like instead of getting something we love.
Loved this post! I’ve made my share of paint mistakes, but now when I’m looking for very pale colors, I start with the Benjamin Moore white charts. My favorite is Patriotic White. People swoon when they see it and I caution them. The rooms is bright and has extensive trim work painted in the highest gloss BM in cotton balls. It’s such a lovely soothing space.
When I had to select paint colors for my new place I panicked. I have to not only sample paint colors but live with them before I can make a decision. I have to know how they’ll make me feel. How they work with other elements in the room. Out of desperation I chose the same color for my living room as I had at my old place. I knew it would work with my existing furnishings. And since my new living room gets more light than my old place I love it even more.
That color is Quiet Moments. It has never let me down.
I even found a new rug at Crate & Barrel that works with it perfectly.
Laurel, do you find that pale blues fade over time? Or because they’re pale to begin with, is any fading just not noticeable?
I ask because of my experience with blue paint. I had our bedroom painted a pretty blue from Ellen Kenton’s line of paints, and over the years it has faded to an ethereal gray blue that is really lovely. When we replaced the existing ceiling fixture with a small chandelier, the area around the new light had to be painted. At first the area looked much darker, but after a time it faded and now looks exactly the same as the rest of the ceiling.
I had a similar experience with the stairwell down to the basement, which was a horrid pinky brown that made me feel I was descending into Hades. I tried samples of blue paint and chose one that, when it covered the walls and ceiling, was so bright it practically made people reel. But over time that too has faded and now looks cheerful instead of eye-popping.
Yes, blue pigmented paint can fade and go “fugitive.” That’s when the blue, over time and most likely due to UV rays actually changes color. Depending on the shade of blue, it can go lighter and a muddy green or even turn a weird shade of mauve. That happened to my beloved Greek Key pillow. However, I love it just the same.
I recommend windows with UV protection built-in. Or failing, that there is a film that can be applied that will do the same things. This is for windows facing south and south-west.
In my old bedroom in NY, the walls were originally a bright indigo. However, where the previous owner had put up pictures, the color was darker and more blue. The rest of the walls looked more purple. So, in this case, the red was brought out.
Hello and thank you for another lovely post. Please would you post the name of the color under your “ pinnable” screen of all of your favorite blues? You usually do that, and somehow it wasn’t showing up on this post.
I’m sorry. I made that graphic a while back and no longer know which is what color. The names of the colors are in the post, if that’s any help. And again, it doesn’t matter all that much because the color on that chart will most likely look significantly different in your home.
Hi, I had the same problem with blue – either to bright or too blue. I did discover how to remedy the problem though. If I had already bought the paint and it turned out not to be what I thought. I would add brown (craft paint) to it. (You would think the opposite colour on the wheel (orange) would be the one to use, but that’s not the case with blue.) I kept playing with the colour until I got it where I wanted it. So with other colours, just add the opposite colour on the colour wheel and that should subdue it. I have a blue in my kitchen that countless people have asked about and it was something I mixed up myself so I have no paint sample or number that I can give them When I need more paint I go to the paint store with a sample of my concoction and ask them to match it. It doesn’t always come out the same, but usually close enough.
You’ve hit my hot button here! Oh, how I wish everyone would read this post before selecting a paint color. You’ve highlighted all the pitfalls of color selection, which is the most difficult part of decorating a room IMHO.
When I start the search for a wall color I tend to gravitate to muted colors, those that are “grayed down” with low chroma notations. Highly saturated colors are quite bossy in a room and work when the goal is to create a very dramatic room, usually achieved by experienced designers.
I always order multiple paint samples from the manufacturer and view them in the room at various times of the day and night, with natural and artificial lighting. Color is a function of light, and when you change the light you change the color.
Another problem arises when viewing paint samples next to each other, as they will appear differently than they would if in isolation.
Very tricky indeed!
Useful reminders here, Laurel. Your post sent me looking at my earliest F&B colour cards to try to find the colour they suggested if you wanted a blue bedroom. The colour on the chip didn’t look blue at all — rather grey, but as F&B pointed out, a little blue pigment goes a very long way. A lovely pale blue on a chip can look ghastly in large quantity on the walls. I didn’t find the description — it must be for a colour that is now archived. But I’ve always remembered the lesson.
Not that I put it into practice: I have no blue walls, only two blue ceilings! And yet the rooms “read” as blue rooms because of the rest — it’s getting the whole right that counts, and exact matching is less crucial than we tend to think.
Gosh Laurel, I wish I had known and engaged you years ago when we were building our house – but we were so house poor at that time that I had to rely on high end books for help. Your post described ALL the costly painting mistakes I made early on. Yet I did learn one important lesson from all the DIY painting and later when using professionals. That was to get big sheets of poster board. Paint each in the color considered and put them up in the room. Leaving them there to see how they looked in the changing light of morning into evening. By the way I have yet to be successful with the color blue – so I gave up and went with more neutral shades.
I chose Woodlawn for one of our bedrooms when we painted last, and it’s great. Although in the room it looks a bit more gray than it does in this post.
Yes blue paint colors can be challenging. My husband and I purchased a home two years ago that is almost perfect. One of the bedrooms is painted a very bright baby blue. I purchased more than a few Samplize paint samples in Farrow and Ball colors. Samplize has a removable adhesive film on the back so they can be placed on a wall. Currently thinking of painting the bedroom de Nimes blue. Most of the first floor is painted Benjamin Moore sleigh bells and it is a lovely soft silver blue.
I confess, I cannot stand baby blue. It’s so icy and cold. Or it looks like a schlocky beach house to me.
We just bought a historic home that the previous owner slathered baby blue paint all over — including the kitchen cabinets. She wanted a beach house look. (And left sea shells inside the cupboards.)
I’m stuck with the kitchen, but I killed the blue paint elsewhere.
I love Wedgewood blue or duck egg’s blue (green) — but baby blue… it’s the worst pastel ever. I wouldn’t paint an Easter egg that color. Rant over.
PS — every picture in this post is tasteful and gorgeous. Nothing like the blue horror I inherited.