12 Rooms in the Most Livable Shade of Dusty Blue

Cobalt, aqua, navy—there are so many different blues to love. But there’s one that crosses into neutral territory, making it among the most versatile, easy to live-with hues on the color wheel. See how top designers use soft, modern gray-blue to create a range of lovely looks.

By: Amanda Lecky

Photo By: Julia Staples

Photo By: Matt Wier

Photo By: Meghan Beierle-O’Brien

Photo By: Amy Bartlam

Photo By: Photography by Thomas Kuoh

Photo By: Miera Melba Interior Design, Inc.

Photo By: John Woodcock Photography

Photo By: Jessica McClendon

Photo By: Kyle Caldwell Photography

Photo By: Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Joe Human

Design in Depth

Outfitting a small room in white and reflective surfaces is a common designer strategy to lend the illusion of more space. But in this tight family bath designer Hannah Dee of Hannah Dee Interiors used a splash of soft blue tile in another clever technique. "The accent wall brings your eye to the back of the room, broadening and lengthening the space—visually—making it feel much bigger than it really is."

Emphasize the Architecture

In the master bedroom of a California mid-century modern home, designers Diego Monchamp and Ryan Brown of Brown Design Group took a bold approach to the asymmetrical architecture, emphasizing it with the contrasting colors of the walls and ceiling. "We used a spectrum of grays and blues, including a steel-blue wallcovering, throughout the room to make it feel sophisticated and neutral," says Monchamp. "Wood elements always complement these muted tones."

Keep it Cool

To create a relaxed yet sophisticated feel in a coastal home, designer Kara Smith of SFA design began with a palette of soft sand tones and dusty blues. "Organic accents and custom furnishings with clean lines and soft textures provide a calming atmosphere that highlights the modern and minimal design of the space," she says.

Bring the Outdoors In

Whether you have a water view or just wish you did, bathing your bedroom in shades of soft blue can create a soothing coastal ambiance. In this luxurious master bedroom designer Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs chose a darker blue wall covering for the walls and added hints of brighter blue on the bed. The natural wood light fixture and leather-seated chair lends just enough warmth for comfort.

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Layer Patterns

Although this bedroom features Niche Interiors designer Jennifer Jones’ signature streamlined style, there’s nothing cold or restrained about it, thanks to the designer’s careful use of pattern and texture. Sticking within a palette of dusty blues and white with a few pops of yellow, she layers geometric patterned fabrics, and rich natural and woven textures, for look that’s luxurious but totally unfussy.

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Create an Oasis

Choosing a unifying color—like a soft blue-gray—can help to anchor a seating area in a large, open space like this one. Here, designer Miera Melba’s choice of color is particularly apt given its tropical setting: The varied shades of blue reference the sea and sky outside.

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Branch Out

A cool color palette can help give a master bath a truly soothing, rela ambience, and it’s common to see aquatic shades of blue in the bath. But for a more unexpected look consider instead a gray-based blue like the one J & J Design Group chose for the cabinets in this bath. Mixed with natural wood, graphic patterns, and warm metals, the color looks fresh and modern, and serene.

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Get the Blues

Just as you’ll find that all the shades of green in nature "go together", so do a wide variety of blues, as designer Jessica McClendon of Glamour Nest shows in this modern kitchen. A gray-blue island sets a subtle stage for pops of bright aqua in the bar stools and the sheerest wash of blue-gray on the tiles ties the look together.

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Try Out an Accent

The easiest way to dip your toe into the "color" pool is to keep the major elements in a room neutral, limiting color to the accessories. Here, the design team at Kelly McGuill Home created a classic look in an airy dining room by choosing a mix of white and off-white for the walls and upholstery and then adding personality with the soft blue rug, curtains, and porcelain. Blonde wood furnishings match the floor, creating a cohesive look.

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Island Living

Navy blue has become one of the more popular colors in the kitchen, frequently showing up on base cabinets or the base of an island. But for a softer, more Scandinavian-inspired look, consider a dusty blue-gray. In this kitchen designed by Betsy Burnham of Burnham Design, the color helps to define the huge island in the all-white room, and contrasts nicely with the rustic wood flooring.

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Rethink Neutral

If gray, beige, and brown are the only colors that come to mind when you think "neutral," it’s time to widen your perspective. Any subtle shade can work as a neutral, as a rich gray-blue does in this living room designed by Joe Human of Designs by Human, providing a defined but serene backdrop for simple white shelving and a sophisticated (and practical) color for upholstery.

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Tweak the Tone

The shade of blue you choose can have a big impact on the look you achieve. The slight green tinge of the blue-gray paint used in this kitchen takes the space in a more midcentury direction; a cooler blue might look more traditional or coastal.

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