Designers love indigo for its rich and complicated qualities
Indigo. Even the name sounds moody, inspiring the likes of Duke Ellington to choose this hue above all others for his jazz tune "Mood Indigo." The color, like the song, is a hit--and a classic. Long associated with exotica thanks to the indigo dye's ancient origins in India, the color indigo continues to inspire designers with its rich and complicated quality, which is somewhere between a true blue and a violet on the color spectrum.
And, man, can it sing! Look what happens to a stack of hand-carved Louis XV and XVI fauteils and bergères when their curvy French frames are painted indigo and their soft places are covered in Dedar's "Tabularas" shiny cotton satin. The result is sensuous, vibrant, and incredibly chic.
Amazing indigo injects richness and depth when the occasion calls for it. And that's exactly what is called for by the "Donald" sofa from Roubini. The Prugna silk velvet in indigo is a lush answer to the shapely sofa's demand for luxe.
In Traditional Home's Hamptons designer showhouse on the beach in Montauk, New York, designer Amanda Nisbet drenched walls, floors, ceiling and furnishings in indigo to strike the right dramatic note for a space that was otherwise, hmm, not terribly interesting. Too much of a good thing? No way. The abundance of indigo compensates for a lack of architectural detailing and transforms this room into a moody hangout for watching old movies. Indigo over the walls, the floor, and most of the furnishings wraps the room in an especially rich and unexpected cocoon.
The biggest splash of indigo is at the walls, which are covered in indigo faux shagreen. This wall covering's sheen steps up the design's glitz and adds visual interest with the subtle pattern of its stripes.
An area rug from Tamarian brings its own jazzy rhythm to the room with a white-swirl pattern on an indigo ground. We love this rug because its wavy movement suggests the sea, without being too in-your-face literal. Plus, any whiff of seaside cliché is removed by the indigo hue itself, which is more complex than the lighter, clearer blues usually chosen for beachfront living.
Who knew blue could be so forgiving as a furniture fabric? This indigo on American Leather Ultrasuede sofas is as much about easy living as it is about easy-on-the-eye style.
When you're slathering on the indigo as Amanda did in this media room, it's important to create a few light, bright spots for visual respite. The sexy silver-upholstered cocktail cube breaks up the blue. And look up: Amanda covered the ceiling in silver paper for a heady dose of glam. The funky glass chandeliers and cloverleaf mirrors also add finishing touches of transparency.
Don't be intimidated by indigo's complexity when pulling together a palette. Even though it's a complicated color, between blue and violet on the spectrum, it's not difficult to work with. In fact, it fits right in with its next-door neighbors on the color wheel. The indigo fabric on this gilded chair looks completely at peace next to the much different blue-green paint on the French commode.
Designer Madeline Stuart pulled together the indigo chair fabric and the teal paint on the Bombay commode with ample accents of gold--the indigo fabric is sprinkled with elegant gold designs, and the painted commode sports gilded edges.
Now see how the designer carried the unusual indigo hue into the master bedroom, where it's articulated in the embroidery of a behind-the-bed tapestry.
At the opposite end of the same bedroom, designer Madeline Stuart continued indigo on the soft velvet covering a bergère.
Indigo is an especially nice hue for bedrooms, with its soothing not-true-blue, not-quite-lavender nature. Expressed in a classic toile from Hinson & Company, it appears on the walls, headboard, and bedding of the master bedroom in this Indiana lake house. And there's no danger of overkill. Subtle and restful to start, indigo retains a delicacy that refuses to overwhelm, no matter how many surfaces it covers, thanks to the toile's white ground.
If toile is a little too precious for your taste, maybe this more modern interpretation of indigo will offer some appeal. The geometry of the area rug is contemporary, and it prevents the room's comfy seating from feeling frumpy.
A small amount of indigo can make a big statement, as proven by its presence on the pair of Vaughan pendant lights and fabric on the barstools shown here. The otherwise all-white kitchen clearly resonates with indigo accents.
For creating an atmosphere of sheer elegance, indigo remains one of the most effective hues. Designer Jamie Drake, known for his fluency with color, brought indigo to the windows and the walls in this stately Greek Revival parlor. Painting the walls solid indigo created a deep, dramatic backdrop. To make it work, Drake painted the millwork bright white. And instead of covering the windows with puddling indigo panels, he went minimal yet majestic with indigo swags that make the color pop. Then he integrated indigo into the furnishings, using it on the pillow fabrics. To liven things up, he introduced its neighbor, violet, on the lamps, and another neighbor, blue-gray, on the sofa. Accents of gold are the crowning touch to this regal palette.