Decorating with color

In cooler weather, deep blues make a home feel cozy


Washington Post Service

In this darkest time of the year, after the holidays, it’s tempting to want to hibernate. So use this opportunity to make your home a warm, cozy place to indulge in some indoor reflection, with moody colors, rich fabrics and a bit of luxury.

We asked designers for their advice on incorporating our favorite winter shades — deep, dark indigo, navy and midnight blue — without getting too dreary. They spoke of dramatic blue-black lacquered walls, sensual velvets and elegant linen drapes. But they warned against going overboard: Go dark with paint or decor, not both, or your winter haven could start looking more like a cave.

“One of my favorite colors is midnight blue,” Michael Roberson, an Arlington, Va., designer says of that blue-black shade one can find in tuxedos. She likes paint colors Baritone and Espionage, by C2, or Newport, which is more of a navy.

The trick with dark paints, says Iantha Carley, a Silver Spring, Md., designer, is to use a shinier finish to reflect light. You can have your walls lacquered — a fairly intensive project best suited for a professional, both designers said — or use a non-glossy paint and add a water-based polyurethane finish. “It can be very dramatic,” says Carley, who recommends Hague Blue and Black Blue by Farrow & Ball.

If paint is too much of a project, test the waters with deep blue fabrics, furniture and accessories. Grab a cup of tea and a blanket, and check out some of our favorites:

• The bathroom might not be the most obvious place for deep hues, but “I would never hesitate to put a dark color in a small room, because it does add a lot of drama,” Carley says. “A lot of times, a dark color will make a small room look larger, because it’s harder to see where the walls meet.”

For the same boldness without the risk or hassle, try deep blue towels, which Roberson says would look especially sharp when contrasted with white tile. Fresco Towels’ African Batik towels are made of soft, plush Turkish cotton ($23-$69,

• “Velvet absorbs the light, which just makes it seem like you want to crawl into it,” Roberson says. “It’s so sensual.” Anthropologie’s Willoughby settee in navy (and matching sofa) plays up that coziness, with a cotton velvet upholstery and generously deep seating for two (settee $1,598, sofa, $1,998,

• The bedroom is perhaps the best part of the house to turn dark, Carley says. “It’s a nice idea to have your bedroom be something soothing to get you to wind down.” Anthropologie’s Indigo Washed dresser is subdued but elegant, dark without feeling heavy. Come spring, pair it with white bedding for a fresh, beachy look ($698; matching nightstands $398 each,

• For a more traditional use for navy, pair it with a crisp white, as Martha Stewart does with her Chalk Stripe rug for Safavieh ($160-$1,488, varies by size, The color combination “has been around for a long time,” Roberson says, and would make a great starting-off point for a dining room. She suggests pairing navy walls, white trim and antique stained-wood furniture for a “crisp, fresh, young look.”

• Add some drama without breaking the bank by painting an existing piece of furniture and adding some fresh hardware. If painting a dresser or buffet navy, Carley suggests using hardware that’s clear or silver. Liberty Hardware’s decorative cabinet pull, inspired by Victorian design, would be a perfect complement to a vintage piece. The acrylic insert adds some romance while the satin nickel finish keeps the look updated ($5,

• To make a bold statement without much commitment, change out your bedding for winter, Carley says, choosing heavier fabrics and deeper colors. Orla Kiely’s Giant Stem blanket puts the designer’s signature stem pattern on a navy background of soft lambswool. It would be at home at the foot of a bed or over the back of a sofa ($251,

• Roberson loves to see a kitchen with navy or indigo base cabinets and lighter uppers. For those who can’t do a whole overhaul, Target’s Carlisle metal counter stools are an easy way to add a bit of navy to the kitchen. Consider pairing them with orange or yellow accessories to brighten the room ($71,

• When it comes to fabrics, Roberson says, navy is a color that requires careful selection. Navy blue polyester won’t have the same effect as a linen, velvet or leather. She says navy leather is particularly beautiful.

To combine a bit of luxury with a more bohemian feel, try Sabatini Collection’s navy poufs, which are handmade from leather and threaded with an intricate pattern. Stuff them with cotton batting from a fabric store or reuse old blankets or clothes ($99,

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