Why blue is such a versatile color for home decor

This spring, designer Melanie Turner released her first book, Inviting Interiors. We chatted with her about a color that appears in much of her work.

Melanie Turner
In a foyer Turner designed for a designer showhouse, color unites a bold Cubist screen with a more delicate chinoiserie pillow.

Photograph by Mali Azima

In your book, you mention that you’re almost surprised that people don’t consider blue to be your signature color. Why?
Actually, I never thought of blue as being my signature color until we put the book together, since I love neutrals as well as color. However, when we laid everything out, we realized how many blue projects there were.

One of your chapters is called “Blue is a Neutral.” What do you mean by that?
The sky and the oceans are all blue—and that’s the majority of the world—so everything naturally works with blue. I’m probably especially aware of it because I do a lot of projects at the beach.

Melanie Turner
Turner turned up the intensity in the den and a powder room, using darker blues and rich tectures like a shaggy wall-to-wall carpet, blue marble, and stained wood. Ombré art in the den reflects the home’s inspiration.

Photograph by Mali Azima

Melanie TurnerWhat are the keys to mixing different blues?
I don’t think there are any wrong ways to mix colors, but, in general, I like to keep colors similar [in intensity]. For example, I might use only pastels together. That harmony just adds subtle sophistication and elegance. There is nothing more calming and classy than a monochromatic room.

Melanie Turner
A seating area in the master suite features vintage French furnishings.

Photograph by Mali Azima

Do you think blue-and-white combinations are overdone?
Actually, for someone who isn’t a professional, it’s a smart thing to do. It goes back to blue being a neutral; it’s always a classic. It’s safe. But because we’re professionals, we’re always looking for that unexpected application—on the stove, in cabinetry, in overscaled lighting. For my clients, those bolder uses can feel like jumping off a cliff. I’m here to hold their hand. You hire a designer for amazing sources and to take any trepidation away. I’m here to raise the bar for you and your home.

Do you worry that blue kitchens will become trendy?
Most kitchens are trendy, even if you’re doing a white kitchen. You can almost always say something like, Oh, it was 2020 when you did your kitchen. So, just do what you love. If you love blue, do a blue kitchen. It gives your home personality.

Melanie Turner
A brass-and-Lucite bed in the guest bedroom makes a bold statement but is, ironically, also subtle.

Photograph by Mali Azima

Tell us about the blue beach house (above).
The moment you step into this home, you feel you are on vacation. At this house, all you can see is ocean and sky, and the owners love blue. The original idea was to do an ombré house—either starting dark at the top and becoming lighter as you go down or vice versa. We planned for different blues on every floor. It did not turn out as a true ombré by floor, but the light fixture in the living room and artwork in the den are literally ombré.

What’s your favorite color of blue?
The sky on a perfectly clear day—what skiers call a bluebird day.

This article appears in our Summer 2021 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.