Everyone has a favorite color, right? Or at least they did when I was young, and that was the question du jour when meeting new kids in my kindergarten class. Some of us hold onto these colors for life, and they become a woven fiber in our identity. Others move on to the next color of the week with abandon or give up on the idea of finding a color to convey their personality altogether. As an interior designer, I think about color more than most. I have moved on to other color combinations that I find pleasing, and blue has not been one of those colors for a long time. Of late, I have been reevaluating my complicated relationship history with blue.
Twee Love: The Color Blue & Me
My relationship with blue began as a twee love story. My little Baptist kindergarten class was planning our end-of-year graduation. I was on to bigger and better things at my local public school. At this age, I loved taking the spotlight. So, I couldn’t stop dreaming of the day when we’d line up on stage, sing songs, and receive our “diplomas.” I was beyond words excited.
We gathered around as a class in the sanctuary to plan the theme for the big event, and the chosen palette was red, white, and blue. I was elated. These were my top three favorite colors, and I’m still a sucker for this classic American palette. The next moments were pivotal. The teachers lined us up and counted us off, calling out our assigned color based on our line placement. Red. White. Blue. It was all dumb luck which we’d get.
Even though I wasn’t a religious kid (my mom chose the school on location rather than denomination), I prayed and prayed that I would get paired with my color crush — blue. I loved being asked my favorite color as a child because this simple question opened up a world of conversation. After all, blue was the best answer anyone could give. Blue. Blue. Blue. I was all about it, and we just had to be matched. It was destiny.
The teachers were coming up to my place in line. Red. White. Blue! I got it! We’re a match, blue and I. The heavens were on our side that fateful day. Looking back on photos of the ceremony, it’s pretty clear I’m wearing hand-me-downs in various faded tones of navy. However, the grin on my face is ear to ear.
During art time, I loved to color with blue. I would peruse the box of enticing shades — periwinkle, cornflower, teal, pacific blue, blue-green, denim, and sky blue. They were all marvelous… save periwinkle, which was a big disappointment. It was barely a color at all! It was mostly clear wax. What a bummer.
Roses are Red, Violets are…
Blue and I continued our close relationship through middle and high school with a new interest — the Laura Ashley Home line. I visited the store almost once a week in their Highland Mall space here in Austin. Then, when my mom took us on a surprise trip to London when I was 17, I got to go to their store in Covent Garden! My favorite pattern for bedding and wallpaper was a blue and white floral print. My mother surprised me one year by redesigning my room in that exact Laura Ashley pattern. I still have a small swatch of the wallpaper that used to cover the switch plate for my bedroom light fixture.
It’s Not You, It’s Blue
Somewhere along the way, my love and devotion to blue waned. Gone were the days of blue and white Laura Ashley florals. In my early 20s, I moved on to more “grown-up” colors. I gravitated to rich greens and deep reds. Black was a favored color for a time during my NYC days. As I was starting my own Austin interior-design firm, I embraced my new go-to favorites of chartreuse and lavender, and eventually darker and moodier design schemes. I seldom reached out for blue anymore. Instead, I eyed browns, greens, creams, pinks, and even golds. My clients would still bring up blue, though. After all, blue is one of the most popular colors out there. I’d run across blue often, especially on the magazine racks in grocery stores. Did you know they put blue on the cover (alongside the equally popular yellow) because this color power couple sells more copies?
The Devil Wears Blue
It’s been a while since blue was at the forefront of my mind or paint deck. But sometimes, our old favorites have a way of sneaking back into our lives — giving us a chance to reconsider our feelings toward them. I was going through tiles for movie night, and The Devil Wears Prada came up. A classic favorite of mine that I also hadn’t watched in a while. There’s this scene where Miranda schools Andy on design. She delivers the line, “What you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue. It’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean.” Watching this scene reminded me of the days of carefully picking out just the right shade of blue for a wall, sofa, or accent chair. Maybe I still had an eye for blue.
Finding My Blue Period
It’s funny how things start to pop up again and again once they’re on your mind. Shortly after that movie night, I began working with a client with a marvelous blue and white ceramics collection. I’ve been reconsidering my relationship with blue during this project, as my love for the color is being rekindled. I’m reminded of other classic blue and white patterns during the design process, like my favorite Laura Ashely bedding and Delft tiles. These blue and white tiles are instantly recognizable when you see them. They feature little blue paintings of everyday life — things like flowers, birds, and flowers — on white ceramic backdrops. They’re delightfully classic and will transport you to a charming English cottage in seconds.
Now that I’m working on a project with so much blue, I’ve looked back to my favorite painter Vermeer and his work for inspiration. His paintings of interior spaces are miraculous! He often used blue, specifically ultramarine — the most expensive color at the time, to create a deliberate mood in his work. In Girl in With the Pearl Earring, ultramarine is heavily featured. Clients are always inspiring me, and this one has challenged me to use my favorite shades of blue again and artfully mix them with the other colors in my repertoire.
Blue isn’t limited to navy, teal, and periwinkle. Farrow and Ball Paint has some amazing options for my new grown-up Crayola box. I’ve gotten more sophisticated with my shades, like Parma Gray, Lulworth Blue, Oval Room Blue, Hague Blue, Stone Blue, and Pavilion Blue, to name a few. It turns out I still have a spot in my heart for blue. It is a beautiful color with a wealth of shades.
Feeling Blue Again
Blue and I have made peace and are slowly reconciling our relationship. After all, blue was my first love! Part of me thinks we fell out of favor because it’s such a popular color, and I tried very hard to set myself apart from the crowd. However, this year is about connection for me. Connection to others, connection to the past, connection to nature, and connection to the things that make me, me. And blue is a part of that. This color was there throughout my childhood and adolescence. While it’s a cool color, it brings up very warm emotions.
It’s time to allow myself to love blue again.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.