Blue makes stunning backdrop

Let adventurous spirit shine

King Features Syndicate

Our reaction to color occurs without conscious thought and is caused by a complex physiological system of how we see and process visual stimuli. But more easily understood is the link between color and memory. Our collective and personal experiences are connected to certain colors; this association is why we favor one or two shades over others.

Deep blue radiates an extraordinary power. We associate sapphire blue with wealth and beauty; this sparkling gemstone shines from within as though it is holding a precious secret. Royal blue is the color of kings and connotes regal attention woven into robes and banners, and applied to the rims of fine china. Navy blue signifies discipline and order; think of uniforms and service.

Midnight blue is the color of dreams and adventure. Our memories of gazing into a vast, star-studded midnight sky trigger the imagination to thoughts of travel and romance.


It takes an adventurous spirit to choose such a strong blue for a wall color, but it makes a stunning backdrop for furnishings and artwork. In this living room, white paint and furnishings lighten up the space and heighten the dramatic mood. A few well-chosen accents, such as the lush green floor plant and lime-green candle on the mantel, add another dimension of interest, but in this minimal atmosphere the mind is free to wander.

Rather than paint an entire room dark blue, you may choose a focal wall in the living or dining room; this is definitely a modern touch. If you would like to build some continuity, which is effective but not necessary, then carry splashes of blue throughout your home with accents found in fabric, china, a grouping of vases or candlesticks, artwork or a carpet pattern.

The sheen of the paint will change the way light reacts to your wall surface. A high sheen will reflect light and show shadows, but it will also magnify imperfections on the surface of the walls, so be selective.

It may seem an unlikely choice, but a dark blue is a fitting color for a family entrance hall. Apply two coats of varnish, and you have a durable surface that can take the bumps and smudges of a busy hallway. Hang a handsome mirror, add a table, and you have a space that’s as modern or traditional as the shade of blue you choose.

Midnight blue and white is an exciting alternative to red and green for holiday decorating. Reminiscent of a winter sky and fresh white snow, try this dramatic duo when setting your table. Choose a deep-blue sateen tablecloth and napkins, and the china and tableware will become the highlight. White feathers and ribbon, colored beads, silver and gold balls, crystal teardrops and seasonal greenery will all stand out in this sophisticated, festive setting.

Buy a few yards of fabric and a gallon of paint, and you too can get in on the adventure.

Dear Debbie: I have bought an old apartment with a dreadful kitchen and bathroom and, worst of all (for me), pine floors yellowed with age. I want to paint or stain the floors a dark mahogany color. I’ve seen you do this but cannot remember the details. Thanks. — Elaine

Dear Elaine: For a long-lasting finish, you will have to sand the pine boards back to raw wood. You need to remove the dirt, wax and any old varnish. This is best done by a professional so that you don’t mar the old wood, as pine is very soft. Then choose a mahogany-colored stain and check out the variations in color when applied to different varieties of wood. To get the dark shade you want, apply two coats, building up the color until you are satisfied.


Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. E-mail your questions to

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