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Cool Blues: Summer Sea-Inspired Shades


From turquoise to cobalt and every shade in between, nature’s most spectacular tropical waters offer an unlimited palette of cool blues.

 Beat the heat this summer with cool blues.

Sea-inspired shades bring a touch of tranquility into your home.

If you’re looking for a way to cool off this summer, nothing beats decorating. From gathering inspiration to room planning to shopping online, it’s our favorite way to been the heat. And if you’re in search of design inspiration, we highly recommend these fabulous, ocean-inspired shades of blue.


Blue skies meet blue waters at Thailand’s Railay Beach.

We’ve collected some of our favorite beach scenes and paired them with designs they could easily inspire. So take a look at these idyllic tropical locales and find your favorite shade of blue—and possibly your next vacation spot.


The perfect interpretation of water and sky, the Sanctuary Rectangle Accent Table features a distressed finish in a cool shade of ultramarine. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


Whether you vacation as a family, couple or with friends, take time to capture the moment with a special photo-such as this one taken at Trunk Bay, St. John Island.


A reflection of Caribbean blue waters, the rich aqua finish of the Melange Tiffani Chest will complement nearly any room’s color scheme. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


The softest shades of aqua can be found in the waters of Thailand’s Koh Tachai beach.


Easy finishes in time-worn, beachy tones of sea and sand distinguish the Sunset Point Fretwork Panel Bed and Bachelor’s Chest. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


The clear turquoise waters of Bora Bora are enticing and unmatched.


An easy way to give life to a room full of neutrals is to add a bit of turquoise into the mix with a small accent piece, such as the Melange Starling Pedestal Table. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


Boasting a coastline of blues melting from cobalt to aqua, Sicily’s Isola di Capo Passero is simply stunning.


The Melange Semblance Chest in teal features distinctive detailing and combines shades of blue as masterfully as nature. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


King of amazing coastlines, the Hawaiian islands offer unlimited shades of blue–such as these on display on Oahu.


The Hoffman Wing Chair from Sam Moore is a plush, sumptuous example of touchable-soft blues. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.


A deep blue sky merges with an even deeper blue sea at Shipwreck Bay in Zakynthos, Greece.


Not all ocean-inspired shades of blue are casual and beachy–as illustrated by the powerfully sleek, deep-sea blue of the Melange Greek Key Console. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


Timeless Tropical Summer Decorating

Diva Leopard Chest

Leopard pattern can be urbane, but if you surround it with baskets, exotic plants and other tropical elements, it finds its jungle-inspired home. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

The latest dinosaur epic may thrill you this summer, but you don’t need a jungle-covered island to be lured by tropical-style decorating.


Simply dramatic, this chest with ebony-hued, crocodile-textured drawer fronts makes a splash in any room. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

English 18th and 19th Century Colonial Style brought traditional elegance to exotic locales, where local artisans refreshed classic looks with native materials and designs.

Today, global influences are even stronger, and tropical elements look more at home than ever.

Tropical, rattanaccenttable

This silvery rattan table in a large-scale weave is one I crave. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Channel that Jurassic-era vibe with reptile-textured leathers, rattan, bamboo, cork, ferns as houseplants and other tropical elements.


Exotic textures are rustic and elegant at the same time, and they’re so distinctive, they make a range of neutrals exciting. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

You’ll transform any room, traditional or modern, into a languid vacation getaway.



Natural rope’s texture and color gives this shapely modern accent table from the Studio 7H Collection a relaxed air. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

B-Y Croc chair

Wild and wonderful, croc-patterned leather makes a fearless fashion statement with vivid solid colors and coordinating prints. This brilliant turquoise is just the color of the Caribbean seas. Photo: Bradington-Young.


Spice-gold leather sparked with python-embossed pillows creates a look that’s lavish, yet lighthearted. Photo: Bradington-Young.


OK, you know you want this chaise to lounge in your tropical lair. It’s available with the back on the left or the right side; your preference. Personally, I’m craving one of each since my husband is left-handed. Photo: Sam Moore Furniture.

Croc tray cropped

This croc-embossed serving tray brings a fresh, luxe look to summer entertaining. Photo: overstock.com

lady fern in pot from tnnursery.net

Ferns have been around since the dinosaurs, and they’re not only beautiful, they help clean your indoor air. These are from TNnursery.net.

abstract green gator pillow overstock

When you want to bring the Jurassic look home for the kids, invite accents featuring today’s dino descendants: alligators, crocodiles and snakes like this one from overstock.com.

michael aram gingko gold dish

Gingko trees, like ferns, date from the age of the dinosaurs, so no wonder they’re an Asian symbol of longevity. Their pretty leaves have always inspired artists, like this one from today’s renowned Michael Aram.


A basket of blue and white hydrangeas is the perfect touch alongside white rockers–designed by editor JoAnn Barwick–and stained porch planks. Photo courtesy of Traditional Home, Jessica Klewicki, photographer.

Perhaps there are some of us born with “blue and white” genes. I suspect it is the most-loved decorating inspiration.

And if there is a high priestess of this forever-fresh combination, it is designer and former editor JoAnn Barwick. I have known JoAnn for many years and have always been in awe of how she presented  this color scheme to her clients, and to readers of House Beautiful, for many years. If JoAnn ran a magazine cover with blue and white as its theme, it sold off the newsstands.


Blue and white may be the most universally loved decorating color scheme. The combination shines in the crisp and refreshing Melange Nautical Chest. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Here is a peek into JoAnn’s summer-fresh world, as well as inspirations for you to bring this delightful decor into your home—especially when summer sun makes us long for a cool, refreshing look.


Former editor JoAnn Barwick’s home is a billboard for how delightfully blue and white combine–even in exteriors. Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.

Thanks to Traditional Home magazine for this tour of JoAnn’s Florida home and her distinctive decorating style.

JoAnn does not stray far from her Scandinavian roots in the interior design of her home. Blue and white are a favorite combination in many European countries, in contexts from painted furniture to textiles to china.


JoAnn Barwick at home. Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.


Antique china platters in traditional blue and white patterns adorn a wall above blue painted furniture. Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.


JoAnn has a wonderful collection of linens, and has also created many of her own fabrics. Blue and white fabric makes this scene especially cool and inviting. Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.


Blue and white enthusiasts like JoAnn extend their collecting to interesting accessories as well as distinctive pottery–as illustrated by the old fashioned carpet balls on the table. Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.


What better way to bring the essence of summer to a bedroom than a wonderful mix of blue and white cotton fabrics? Photo: Traditional Home by Jessica Klewicki.

Indoors: Blue and White Never Disappoint

Begin with a pure white background and gently add refreshing blues in throw pillows, as on this Sam Moore Caraleen sofa. The lines of the sofa are outlined in contrasting cording, just the perfect designer touch. Set against a floral background—as with this peelable, prepasted wallpaper available at Lowe’s—the result is quietly arresting.


Photo credit: Sam Moore Furniture sofa and wallpaper from Lowes.

Bring the essence of sea and sky to a bedroom with a pretty table at your fingertips—from Hooker Furniture’s  Sunset Point Collection. The Sunset Point Bedside Table would also be perfectly comfortable next to Sam Moore’s Penny Swivel Chair, in a blue the shade of cornflowers.


The Sunset Point bedside table in St. John’s finish brings the essence of sea and sky to your bedroom. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

Think of creating a garden in your home as you pair these two best-friend hues.


The Penny swivel chair, in a blue the shade of cornflowers, would be a perfect pair with a bedside table. Photo: Sam Moore.

When the writer Colette sat at her desk in the evening hours, she put a piece of plain blue paper around her light–and the people of Paris always knew she was at one of her masterpieces as they passed by. In such a romantic spirit, Hooker Furniture offers this home office writing desk and a darling desk chair with upholstered back.


This writing desk in creamy white finish makes a romantic pairing with the desk chair upholstered in a fresh turquoise blue. Photo: Hooker Furniture.


It may be in the dining room where blue and white can really hold court—there are so many marvelous tabletop products to carry out the theme. Use a neutral background, such as Hooker Furniture’s Sunset Point rectangular dining table.Then mix fabrics and china patterns to your heart’s content. Many of us collect the odd piece of china—all work in harmony as blue and white are always at home together.


The creamy white of the Sunset Point table legs and sideboard mix beautifully with the St. John’s blue finish of the lattice-back chairs. Photo: Hooker Furniture.

My china cupboards are filled with blue and white finds over the years–everything from the finest Danish china to a white Target pitcher. In this photo, I mix Wedgewood wedding china and a milk glass goblet, also a wedding gift.

bwsetting (1)

Table setting photo by Lindemeyer Productions.

The hydrangeas are silk–from my friend Diane James, who has made a wonderful business with her floral creations (once Diane did her daughter’s wedding with all silk flowers–all except the bridal bouquet). And the little oil painting is a favorite by a French artist. I love the blue and white check and the splash of yellow.

Don’t forget that adding a bright color to blue and white makes it even more appealing. A pure white placemat from Williams-Sonoma rests on two patterns—geometric and floral. All are friendly here, as is the napkin held in a white summer rose.

What could be better to serve for dessert in this divine setting than Bread Pudding with Wild Blueberry Sauce?


Photo by: WildBlueberries.com

Bread Pudding with Wild Blueberry Sauce Recipe


   3 cups bread cubes, crusts removed

          4 cups scalded milk

          3/4 cup white sugar

          1 tablespoon butter

          4 eggs lightly beaten

          1/2 teaspoon salt

          1 teaspoon vanilla

          3 cups frozen Wild Blueberries

          1/3 cup white sugar

          1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

          1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

          1 teaspoon cornstarch

          1/4 cup water

 To Prepare the Bread Pudding: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Soak bread in hot milk for 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, salt eggs, and vanilla. Pour into baking dish.

 Line the bottom of large roasting pan with damp kitchen towel. Place glass dish on towel and fill roasting pan with hot water. Place on oven rack and bake for 60 minutes. Remove from water bath and cool. (Best served warm.)

To Prepare the Sauce: Cook Wild Blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest in saucepan just until sugar is dissolved and berries are hot. Mix cornstarch in 1/4 cup water until well blended and stir into hot mixture. Cook until sauce is slightly thickened. 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve warm over bread pudding. Serves 6.