Colour theories in interior design and lighting: Blue

How, where and why to use the colour blue in your interior design. Plus a guide to blue table lamps, blue lampshades and all things to do with blue lighting…

Colour is one of the foundations of interior design: colour choices affect mood and atmosphere, and reflect tastes, identities and changing fashions. Our series looks at different colours in interior decor: their history, what they mean, how to incorporate them into your home, and how to use them in relation to lighting.

Following our posts on white and black, here’s Pooky’s guide to blue…

Ask a random group of people to name their favourite colour and you can bet that a fair few will opt for blue. It’s consistently at the top of colour popularity polls – and when in 2017  Marrs Green was named as the world’s favourite colour in a huge survey,  aficionados were quick to point out that despite the name, this lovely deep teal was actually more blue than green.

There is no doubt that interior designers love blue for its versatility, from the deepest tones of navy blue to the lightest of sky and China blues. (Our friends at Little Greene sell almost 40 different shades of blue paint.) You can find blue of all shades, tints and tones in settings ranging from royal palaces to coastal cottages, in every type of room, and in many classic and contemporary interior design styles. 

So, this is Pooky’s tribute to blue and we have, of course, included some fine lighting and accessory examples in celebration

The unmistakable coastal look, featuring strong blues and white, as in this cottage on America’s Maine coast. Image: Wikimedia creative commons

Blue – a brief history

Studies suggest that it is blue’s association with clear skies and clean water that underpins our love for the colour. Humans have always looked to the natural world for inspiration and have been decorating with blue for the past 6,000 years, thanks to the Ancient Egyptians who found a way to create a permanent blue pigment. 

The Greeks and Romans loved it, as did the Buddhist artists of Bamiyan in 6th century Afghanistan, who used the deep blue of lapis lazuli to create ultramarine. Italian traders brought the pigment to Europe, where it was snapped up by Renaissance artists. But, given the rarity and high price of lapis lazuli, ultramarine featured only in the most exclusive and important commissions, such as the Virgin’s blue robes in religious paintings. Vermeer’s love of uber-pricey ultramarine tipped his family into debt…

girl with pearl earring

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665; Mauritshuis, The Hague. Image: Creative commons

History, like interior design, can sometimes come full circle; it was Napoleon’s global ambitions and the ancient artefacts brought back from his Egyptian campaign that contributed to a steep rise in the popularity of Egyptian Blue (so-named in 1809) for interiors and decorative arts. Blue certainly held deep significance for Napoleon – take a look at his Throne Room in the Palace of Fontainebleau.

napoleon palace

Throne Room in the Palace of Fontainebleau. Image: Creative commons

Advances in paint production and synthetic colour creation across the 18th and 19th centuries saw a wider range available to decorators and architects, such as the Adam brothers. Pale blues became a popular choice for grand town and country houses and are still in favour today. Nineteenth century designers in the UK, Europe, and beyond also loved blue—in all its shades. 

The Blue Room, Fischbach Castle, Luxembourg; water colour by Friedrich Wilhelm Klose, 1846. Image: Creative commons

Back in the early 20th century, Ejnar and Johanne Flac-Bundegaard, who lived at Lille Molle, Christianshavn, in Denmark, were on a tight budget and asked for the cheapest paint with enough in stock to cover the walls of a bedroom.  The answer was “blue” and what a marvelous blue it was. They were brave enough to go with it—and how right they were. If you are a fan of vintage or retro, this is an approach definitely worth considering.

Ejnar and Johanne Flac-Bundegaard's Blue bedroom. Photo: Karen Mardahl


And today, blue is as popular as ever; in July 2022, House & Garden reported that duck egg blue, in particular, was “having a moment.” Don’t be surprised to find a discreet duck-egg blue throw or blanket, even in the most neutral and minimal of interiors.

Blue in interior design – never out of place

Blue goes with virtually anything (forget the maxim that “blue and green should never be seen” - they often work wonderfully together.)

A solid blue wall makes a highly effective backdrop and can be calming too. So, a good choice for an uncluttered workspace or office. You could even go one step further and add a blue floor or ceiling.

Office by Alex Gardner. Image: Interiordesigned. 

If space is very tight, perhaps in an attic room or study, a touch of light duck egg blue against a pale neutral palette makes the most of natural light and adds comfort and interest.

Attic room by Anna Haines. Photo: Andrew Steele

Given its association with water, blue seems a natural choice for a bathroom but be prepared to pay close attention to natural and artificial light sources.

amara bathroom
Bathroom by Amara of @thepajaamahub

And in an eclectic space, furnishings and fixtures in a variety of blues can make everything hang together in a cohesive whole.

astman taylor

Blues bring cohesion to this eclectic living space by Astman Taylor

Lighting and the colour blue

Lighting is a great way to get blue into your home. Given the versatility of blue, Pooky offers you a host of blues and styles, from classic to contemporary – lampshades, lighting, and accessories.

Blue lampshades

You can choose from an enormous range of blue lampshades, patterned, edged, block colour and in many different sizes…you’ll have no difficulty finding one (or more) that you love. 

morris and co indigo rosehip shade

This empire shade in Indigo Rosehip linen, one of our collaborative range with Morris & Co., is taken from a tile design, with the interlocking pattern creating a strong impact. The motifs were hand cut and hand printed from lino, which gives the linen shade its hand block printed look, all finished with velvet tape.

For a solid, saturated colour, try something like this fabulous drum lampshade in peacock Dupion silk. Not forgetting blue’s aquatic links, how about our Ocean Arrows empire shade? It’s hand painted on card so each one is unique. A miniature work of art that punches well above its weight.

ocean arrows20cm empire shade in Ocean Arrows hand painted card

Browse all blue lampshades here.


Blue table lamps

This is our larger Bobcheck table lamp in a vibrant, rich blue. We took a classic ceramic lamp shape and added mirrored tracks of tiny embossed pebble shapes, for added but subtle texture. Bobcheck is handmade and exquisitely glazed.  

larger bobcheckLarger Bobcheck table lamp in blue ceramic

And to prove that blue can make you smile, we present our Tiddly Pomme table lamp: a little glass apple-shaped ball of scrumptiousness.

tiddley pommeTiddly Pomme glass table lamp in blue

See all blue table lamps.


Blue floor lamps

Pooky’s Coronet floor lamp is bold and contemporary, with a touch of ceremonial elegance. Made of polished resin, this is the aquamarine version. If you’re wondering about that stunning shade, it is our 45cm drum in Liberty’s Hera Plume in jade; you can find all sizes here.

coronet in aquamarine

Pooky make beautiful lights for beautiful interiors - find inspiration on our blog and shop our huge range of affordable designer lights and shades.


Image top: Blue Room, Vorontsov Palace, Alupka, Crimea - via wikimedia creative commons.


See also:
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: Black
Colour theories in interior design and lighting: White