Blue and grey is a versatile but easy-to-incorporate colour combination that’s perfect for living rooms. Get inspired
Houzz UK deputy editor. I’m an interiors journalist and editor, previously for the… More
Your living room is the place in the house where you want to feel calm – but not catatonic. To this end, the elegant colour combination of grey and blue couldn’t be more perfect. Whether you go for indigo and charcoal or mix in bare wood or glossy white, there are various ways to present this palette so that it will work for every style – and state of mind. Tell us which you prefer in the Comments section at the end.
Mix with lashings of light and white
If you want a bright, fresh look in your living space, a reflective white background is a lovely foil for a blend of blues and greys. Add wooden features and a dash of brass and you have a subtle nautical feel, too.
In this kitchen/living space, the soft grey of the sofa and gentle blue in the rug and teal cushions help to take the edge off the gloss white units as well as providing a layered, sludgy backdrop for the brighter blue accents which, on their own combined with white gloss, could easily create a rather cold, unfriendly effect, as could using one of the other primary colours, or adding more hard, shiny surfaces.
If you don’t have kitchen units in this material and colour, consider a few living room storage units or a TV console in glossy white or, if a less contemporary look is your thing, paint some vintage wooden furniture white – a painted glass-fronted cupboard would be ideal, as it would provide reflection without the need for a gloss-finish paint to bounce light around. Add an antique mirror or two to boost the effect.
Take note of tones
If you hanker after deep, inky blue walls like these and are pondering a sofa colour to go with them, be inspired by how well this mid-grey number works here.
One of the many rules about pairing colour is that if you pick two hues of a comparable depth of tone, you’ll be on the right track. Here, however, a super dark sofa would get lost (the dark blue cushion looks great as a cushion but wouldn’t work as a piece of furniture that shade). But to connect the two tones, the designer has chosen a sofa fabric with streaks of very dark grey on a mid-grey background. A smart move.
For a cosy effect, lots of different textures work really well, as you can see, and the streaky sofa adds to that by not being a completely flat colour.
When sofa shopping, take paint swatches with you to hold up next to potential purchases – better still, paint larger sheets of paper using tester pots so you can stand back and get a good look.
Start with art
An artwork is often a good starting point for a room’s colour scheme. And this blue/grey painting really sets the mood for this snug, seaside living room.
Designer Rebecca Leivars wanted to give a subtle nod to the cottage’s location, focusing on stormy greys and blues. “I wanted an emphasis on lazy, rainy days – sitting there with a hot chocolate or a nice glass of wine in hand while the wind’s howling outside,” she says.
The palette builds out from the painting, but not too literally – blue is central to the artwork, but only picked up in one cushion in the room. Instead, what dominates are the neutrals – a soothing wash of pale biscuity walls and several shades of grey. The spikes of golden yellows add warmth, but so, perhaps surprisingly, does the blue. Certain blues’ warming powers are one of the reasons it can be such a good partner for cool greys.
See the rest of this cute Cornish cottage
Go au naturel
With a view as leafy as this, it would be hard to resist adding in lots of bare wood accents to this airy living room. A pale wood like the oak that features all over this room perfectly complements the dark walls and fairly dark sofa, adding a pleasing lightness to the combination.
Talking of which, part of the reason the navy walls and grey sofa don’t visually cancel each other out is that each has a distinct texture. Try this yourself if you’re pairing colours that could otherwise risk running into each other – here it’s wood panelling and a flecked fabric, but you could pair wool with stone or a matt, one-colour patterned wallpaper with glossy, foil-wrapped furniture.
What goes with dark blue?
Channel the New England look
Another light and bright way to use tones of blue and grey in your living space is to tap into the classic East Coast American beachside style. But rather than going down the super crisp and pretty route this look can favour, cut out the red accents you’ll often see and let grey and sky blue be bridges between your crisp stripes and smart navy and white.
The marl-style grey curtains are particularly effective: note how they are hung – if you’re tempted instead to go for a modern eyelet fixture, bear in mind that this would introduce a stand-alone (and potentially chilly) chrome feature in the eyelets themselves, and also the hang would not undulate as softly.
Deep greys are known for their cosy-making abilities and often a small room, or an already-light-starved space, can be given a new lease of life by embracing its cosy feel by using charcoal-y shades to emphasise it.
Certain greys (with more blue in them) can be on the cool side (the more yellow in the mix, the warmer a grey will be). So a rug like this one, featuring stripes of blue, pinks and red, adds a large-scale shot of heat. Now it’s just about lighting that fire…
Pick a pattern
If you have a lively feature you love, but which you don’t want to dominate your scheme, then a cool, mid-grey is a useful shade.
Here, two highly patterned and vibrantly coloured chairs in shades of teal and turquoise look classy rather than lairy. To see how much this has to do with those grey walls, try picturing the chairs against a bright white background or a yellow one – they’d be much more in-your-face.
Vouch for velvet
Because of the way it catches the light, velvet can really highlight the richness in certain blues – especially this almost regal hue.
Blue velvet sofas are a growing trend (hot on the heels of, you guessed it, grey sofas) and so if you are considering one in this kind of luxurious hue, be prepared to let your walls complement rather than compete with your statement furniture. Here, the delicate grey of the walls and footstool ensure the effect is stylish, not overdone.
The balance between opulent and elegant in this room is fine, but just right. To that end, there’s also something lovely about how the velvet emphasises the matt paintwork and footstool, and vice versa, with those details boosting the glow and glamour of the sofas. So if you’re drawn towards a spangly wallpaper or glimmering silk curtains, a competing velvet sofa may not be for you unless you’re a confident maximalist.
10 décor ideas to go with an on-trend blue velvet sofa
Look to nature
When picking the perfect greys and blues to pair up, you might find the answer in the great outdoors. Here, cerulean blue – essentially the sky on a beautiful summer’s day – and pebble grey are perfectly complementary. And you’d only have to find a shingle beach on a hot July day to come up with the combination.
As expected, the pairing does conjure up a little bit of a seaside feel, but to keep that subtle the owners have steered the design away from the informality of classic coastal style and gone for polished rather than driftwood or sun-bleached timber. Symmetry is frequently a shortcut to a more formal style, too – note, here, the lamps, cushion arrangements and matching armchairs.
Do blue and grey feature in your living room décor? Show us your photos in the Comments section, or tell us which of these rooms you love best.