Sunday, February 8, 2015

New-Found Love for Navy

It's been ages since I posted on my blog and I'm feeling rather embarrassed about it.  The truth is, I've been in what feels like "survival mode" since the birth of our third son last May.  He's an easy baby to be sure, but when you add new baby to a full client load, two older siblings, a house that needs constant cleaning, massive amounts of laundry, teaching an evening class once a week, what feels like a full social calendar, and a husband who understandably wants some time with his wife....well, something has to give.  For me it's been the blog.  Now, eight months in, I'm trying desperately to sweep out the cobwebs, whip my life back into shape, and get back to the old me.  That's hard to do with a baby who up 'til now hasn't been a very good sleeper at night, but we're working on that too!  I am determined to get back to a healthy balance of kids, family, clients and the things that I love.

Here is Anders, my little kitchen helper.  At 8+ months he is crawling and into everything!
One of the things I love about my my job (among many!) is the interesting people that I get to work with.  Every project brings new personalities, new tastes, new lifestyles and new challenges--it's never dull!  With every client, I get to explore and enjoy some new idea or aspect of design, all the while living a bit vicariously through their home renovations or new-builds.  Often times, those same clients influence what I am most obsessed with at that point in time, be it a style of furniture, a color palette, a type of light fixture, or a particular material.  I love to dive in and sort of become "my clients" for the duration of the project, immersing myself in their world.

I have a current client who recently told me, when I showed her a wallcovering sample, "Oh good, I LOVE anything Navy!"  I got to thinking about it later...I've had lots of clients that request the color blue, but I don't think I've ever had someone come to me and say, I love Navy Blue and I want to use it in my home.  And come to think of it, Navy isn't a go-to choice for me when I'm pulling together color schemes for my clients.  Maybe I've always shied away because I've been afraid of the overly predictable Blue and White "Nautical Look."  It's classic to be sure, but it's been done so many times; I get nervous about anything that can start to feel cliché.  The funnier thing to me is that one of my favorite decorative elements in my own home happens to be predominatly Navy: a pair of off-the-shelf drapery panels from Crate in Barrel that I bought several years ago when we moved into our house.   They have a deep Navy background color, layered over with huge, green, yellow and white tropical-looking flowers.  They hang in my kitchen in our breakfast nook area and when I look at them I always feel happy.  So why am I not using more of this color?

My kitchen drapery panels that I love so much.  
It's certainly not that I don't like the color Navy.  A quick perusal of my Pinterest and Houzz folders quickly showed me that I've been attracted to it all along.  It's there, but I've never paid attention to how often it appears in the inspiration photos that I collect.  And looking at these images for the second and third time has confirmed that I've been seriously overlooking the great potential that Navy offers!  So here we go--thanks to the help of my fun and amazing client Amanda, a new-found love for Navy and a handful of inspiring photos that have me determined to use it more often.

One of the first emerging patterns that I noted in my photo collections was built-in cabinetry painted in the color.  Navy makes ordinary cabinets look A-mazing!  Here are some of my favorites:

Navy Mahogany Built-In Bar With Coral Decor
High-gloss Navy cabinets in Sue De Chiara's Connecticut home, designed in collaboration with Lauren Muse
of Muse Interiors.

navy cabinets, pearlescent tile, wire screens on upper cabinets
Source: Décor Pad.  "Small, chic butler's pantry features navy upper cabinets accented with chicken wire doors over navy lower cabinets paired with white marble counter and white iridescent grid tiled backsplash."

The space appeals to the wine enthusiast, featuring two Thermador wine columns and custom cabinetry designed for ample storage of stemware.
A gorgeous party-prep kitchen in the DC Design House, by Aiden Design.
Notice how they've paired the Navy cabinets with white in each of the rooms, whether it be the tile backsplash, a tile floor, or simply white accessories.  There's just no getting around it--white makes Navy pop!  Does that automatically make these rooms feel nautical?  I don't think so.  However, it does give them a classic, rooted-in-history feel, while at the same time being modern and fresh. What I love about the first example is the high-gloss finish on the cabinets.  Now that is gutsy!  And the way the deep, shiny finish makes those handsome, nickel bin pulls just jump off the page.  By comparison, the second example seems a bit more subdued, with what appears to be a Satin finish on the cabinets.  It's equally handsome though, with the rich, dark wood flooring, the classic white wall paneling, and the iridescent mosaic grid backsplash.  And the third example...oh my, I think I am drooling!  That Calcutta Marble herringbone floor, the rustic wood prep-table, the sleek, brushed brass hardware, the way the cabinetry panels extend to the ceiling and frame out the pass-through into the adjoining room.  Everything here is perfection.

For similar reasons, I love the use of Navy on wainscoting or wall paneling.  It feels rich, luxurious, and oh-so handsome.  I notice that even Pottery Barn has shot of lot of their most recent catalog images against just such a backdrop.  Maybe Navy is the "It" color of the moment!Sherwin Williams Articles  I am convinced that Navy paneled walls add instant masculine appeal and grab you in a way that traditional white paneling just can't.  When I see paneling done like this--and I love just about any kind of paneling--my heart skips a beat and I can't help but stop and stare!  Something about it mesmerizes me and I can't take my eyes off of it.  It makes the other elements in the room look even better, provided there are enough white or light tones in the room to balance the depth and darkness of the blue.

obsessed w. this paint color - farrow & ball hague blue.
Image found on  Paint color is Farrow and Ball Hague Blue.
This bathroom takes my breath away. Stunning and elegant. The rich, dark color on the wall is regal in every way.
Here bathroom designer Robert Moore has painted the walls in a deep blue, 'Basalt' by Little Greene
 And in my book, a close runner-up to Navy-hued wall paneling, is Navy grasscloth wallpaper, especially when paired with a crisp, white wainscoting.  It's unexpected, bold, and feels very "current" yet refreshingly non-trendy.  I would do this in a heartbeat in an old, traditional-style home.  Or, a new home that you want to give instant, historic-feel.

again, dark wood against the dark blue, but balanced by white... that's why it doesn't seem overwhelmed by the dark... note the lighter mirror over the dark dresser
Found on BHG blog.

Peacock blue grasscloth & lacquer cabinet
Lovely little bath, found on Pinterest.  Notice how amazing Navy grasscloth  looks against gold fixtures.

But if all this wall paneling, fancy cabinetry and grasscloth wallcoverings just aren't in the budget, and they aren't for a lot of us, a Navy coat of paint on a wall or two can go a long way.  These rooms have serious design-cred, even with a simpler, less costly application of the color.
Modern living room, Medici Sectional Sofa with Track Arm | Hudson's Bay
Image from Cote Maison, via Pinterest.
nursery idea. Make it a room you can hang out in as well. Decorate it for the baby later when he/she is older
Nursery by LeSueur Interiors.  (I am a big fan of Meg Lonergan's work!)
Do Navy walls still seem like too big of a commitment?  Okay, then working our way down the list... How about a piece of Navy furniture?  I love older pieces, re-painted and repurposed.  After seeing these images, I think Navy is going to be my go-to color for painted furnishings.  I am going to be scouring Craigslist for some tasty furniture finds then making my way to my local paint store!  Okay, maybe not today, but in a few months when the baby is sleeping through the night and I feel ready to tackle a project in my "spare time."
ENTRY  navy dresser- antique store (paint is polo blue Benjamin Moore, pulls from House of Antique Hardware)  gold mirror- craigslist  W mirror- Pottery Barn Kids  black lamps- Target  white shades- Target  greek key trim- Walmart  gold Asian bust- antique store  zebra wood frame- Pottery Barn  blue bowl- World Market  silver plated bowl- One Kings Lane  navy rug- One Kings Lane (Thom Filicia)  drum shade- Andrews Lighting in OKC  bird box- Anthropologie  Callies home tour on LGN
Simple, Navy chest of Drawers.  Image from 

I love the salmon-ey pink inside...thinking I should paint the inside of my built in hutch this color.
Hello Gorgeous!  Love the Coral interior!  Found on

This last point brings me to another great question: "What colors are best paired with Navy?"  Ha ha, that's actually a trick question.  I think you can put just about anything with Navy, similar to the way denim blue jeans seem to look good with everything in your closet.  Pondering this brings to mind the sage advice of style maven, Stacy London, on the show "What Not to Wear" (yes, I was addicted to that show ages ago, before the kids arrived), who said something to the effect that Navy is one of your neutrals, just like gray or black, and you can wear it with anything.  The same goes with interiors.  A bit of Navy works just about anywhere you want to put it.  However, here are some of my favorite pairings:

London home of interior designer Bunny Turner of  Turner Pocock. The walls are painted in 'Squid Ink' from Paint & Paper Library.
Lovely and serene, a Green, White and Navy spare bedroom, belonging to Bunny Turner.

Caitlin Wilson | Navy Fleur Chinoise, Pink City Maze, and Gold Dot styled by Jana Bek Design
Navy, White and Bubble-gum Pink!  How pretty and fun! (Pillow textiles by another favorite blogger, Caitlin Wilson.)

HGTV Dream Home 2015 on Martha's Vineyard - Cuckoo4Design
Navy, Pale Blue, White, and Orange.  Notice how there is color hierarchy?  The strong orange accent only appears in small doses and is surrounded by a calming sea of White.  Love it!  (From the HGTV Martha's Vineyard Dreamhome)

Orange and navy decor in a living space... the complimentary colors work well in this room without bogging it down from too much color or the brightness. Good ideas! /ES
Is anyone else out there scared to try Red, White and Blue...afraid of being cheesy?  Here one can see that it is all about choosing the right shade of those colors.  This orange-ish hue of red, one that I would call "Tomato-Soup Red,"  looks very sophisticated here, when paired with White and Navy Accents.  I also love the fun blend of textiles and patterns--all by Thibaut, but of course!

I could go on an on, but by now most of my readers are probably snoring, so I'll just wrap things up by saying that besides favorite color pairings, I've also decided that I have a favorite material/texture pairing when it comes to using Navy.  Can you guess what it is?  Here are some visual hints:

Rustic kitchen island
Image from Williams Sonoma.

Wooden window frames and furniture add a rustic touch to this room.
I can't quite tell if this wall color is a deep Navy or Black, but regardless, I love how it makes the soft, honey tone of the wood window casing and chest pop!  So much character!  Found on Pinterest and 

I dig everything about this and still roll my eyes that my bedroom was this color for years and folks went "AGH" and now its all *that*, gheesh...but its a rockin moody color!
Maybe more of an Indigo, but still lovely!  Found on Pinterest and DesignSponge.

Navy distressed but on nightstand!

The answer is natural or distressed/reclaimed wood.  I love distressed wood in general, but somehow I think it looks even more incredible against a rich, dark Navy.  The two seem made for each other.  Come to think of it, they would be wonderful in a little boy's room!  Which gets me back to my first point.  I have a few boys to chase around the house tonight, so signing off, and hopefully not for 6 months like last time.

Yours truly,

Sheila boy-am-I-tired Mayden.  

PS In an effort to be honest and transparent, let me just say that it only took me about 3 weeks and 10-12 logins to actually get this post up and running!  Clearly, I am a long way from being back to the "old me."