Prized for its dramatic presence and classic appeal, navy blue is among the most versatile hues – one that can be adapted to suit a wide range of colour schemes and decorating styles.
Deep, rich and recessive, it makes the way for brighter colours to pop and is a trademark complement for interiors boasting coastal, classic, and contemporary character. Although navy blue's benefits are many, it is a colour that needs to be balanced to ensure it doesn't overwhelm or result in a space that feels closed-in rather than the cosy and cocooning hero hue we know it to be.
Mood board: Background in Resene True Blue with A4 drawdown paint swatches in (from top to bottom) Resene St Tropaz, Resene Red Red Red and Resene Bianca, painted accessories in (clockwise from top) Resene Bianca, Resene True Blue, Resene St Tropaz, Resene Red Red Red and Resene Smokescreen and DIY geometric artwork in Resene Midnight Express, Resene St Tropaz, Resene Red Red Red, Resene Smokescreen and Resene Bianca. Lounge: Wall and shelf in Resene Midnight Express, floor in Resene True Blue, rectangular coffee tabletop and console tabletop in Resene Midnight Express, vases, bowls and dishes (from darkest to lightest) Resene Blackjack, Resene Midnight Express, Resene True Blue, Resene Kashmir Blue, Resene Smokescreen, Resene Breathless and Resene Bianca (plus Resene Red Red Red and Resene St Tropaz in alternative version) and drum coffee tables in Resene Red Red Red (large) and Resene St Tropaz (small) with tops in Resene Bianca.
Overall, navy colour pairings should be clear, crisp, and bright. Blackened purples, hunter green and maroon such as Resene Violent Violet, Resene Eternity and Resene Spitfire all share navy's intensity and are likely to get lost when paired with the dark blue hue, but there are plenty of colours, including mustard yellow, bright pink and metallic gold such as Resene Pirate Gold, Resene Smitten and Resene Gold Dust that work beautifully without being swallowed up. For a complementary colour scheme, look to blue's opposite on the wheel: orange. The fiery hue introduces warmth that balances the cool depth of navy blue. A mid-range tone is often enough to establish a bold, colourful look, such as pops of tangerine or papaya like Resene Ecstasy or Resene Roxy, while lighter shades like coral or cantaloupe such as Resene Florentine Pink or Resene Tacao make for beautiful accent colours to complement coastal décor.
Two other sure-fire schemes that work wonders with navy blue are a layered tonal palette or the classic combination of red, white and blue. Even with the same wall colour, floor colour and major furnishings, each palette will result in a completely different overall vibe for your space while still looking fresh, contemporary and sophisticated. To demonstrate this, we’ve shown how the same deep navy room – with walls in Resene Midnight Express and a floor in Resene True Blue – looks dramatically different simply by swapping out the accent colours through a change of artwork, coffee tables and small accessories.
Moodboard: Background in Resene True Blue with A4 drawdown paint swatches in Resene Kashmir Blue (left) and Resene Bianca (right) and vases in (clockwise from top centre) Resene Smokescreen, Resene Breathless, Resene Bianca, Resene True Blue and Resene Kashmir Blue. Accessories: Velvet sofa, rug and blue cushion from Nood, striped circle cushions from Freedom, coffee tables, console table and house/dock canvas print from Kmart, gold dish and gold edged tray from H&M Home.
While tonal colour palettes were traditionally limited to a combination of strengths of a single hue (for example, pairing Resene Duck Egg Blue with Resene Half Duck Egg Blue and Resene Quarter Duck Egg Blue), today’s tonal schemes typically include a broader range of tones within the same colour family. In the case of navy blue, not only is it okay to bring in a variety of other dusty denim blues or cool watery hues, it’s also completely permissible to mix in a range of blues that have both warm and cool undertones – and even encouraged. In our tonal version of this cocooning living space, we’ve painted simple, understated coffee tables in Resene Midnight Express (the same colour as what’s on the walls) and layered in painted vases and plant pots in warmer/deeper Resene True Blue and Resene Kashmir Blue as well as cooler and paler Resene Smokescreen and Resene Breathless and a few touches of warm white with Resene Bianca and black with Resene Nero. The addition of five accent hues may sound like a lot, but it’s helpful in representing the full chromatic transition from very light through to very dark and visually softening the gap between them.
A truly timeless trio, red, white and blue work together wonderfully with a wide range of styles from nautical and Hamptons looks through to mid-century modern and Bauhaus-inspired designs. To balance the depth of the Resene Midnight Express walls and Resene True Blue floors, we used eye-catching Resene Red Red Red and Resene St Tropaz to bring energy and vibrancy, Resene Bianca and Resene Nero for contrast, as well as toned down blues, Resene Smokescreen, Resene Breathless and Resene True Blue to round out the look. Because these accent hues pop so much against the navy blue base, we’ve created further connection by also repeating circuluar forms and motifs throughout the space – which adds to the cohesion of the overall look and solidifies the palette in the process. These are repeated in the cushion, the circular coffee tables in Resene Red Red Red and Resene St Tropaz with tops in Resene Bianca and the DIY artwork, which was created with testpots of Resene Midnight Express, Resene Red Red Red, Resene St Tropaz, Resene Bianca and Resene Breathless.
Styling by Laura Lynn Johnston. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2021
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