We're well-documented fans of designing in a blue color scheme—as much as we're partial to a bold pop of purple or a wash of muted green, there's something about the color blue that just has astounding versatility. And if we were to play favorites, we'd have to say that navy blue—one of the most iconic shades ever—is the epitome of everything we love about this part of the color wheel. It's timeless, it's versatile, it's by turns moody or muted...and it goes with everything. But that's actually part of the reason it can be so tricky to get started when designing a navy blue space—the options are pretty much endless, which can lead to some very pervasive decision paralysis. (Ask us how we know.)
If you're looking to design with this well-loved color but feeling a bit overwhelmed by the options, never fear. We've rounded up some of our favorite hues to pair with navy, and some of them definitely aren't what you were expecting. Whether you opt for a traditional pairing or go for something unexpected and bold, navy blue comes through—again and again. Which is probably why it's earned itself a spot in the pantheon to begin with.
Read on for some of our favorite new and old twists on a navy blue color palette.
Some things are classic for a reason—and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention navy blue in conjunction with one of its oldest, most tried-and-true partners in crime: clean, bright white. Though this pairing might conjure up a nautical motif in your mind, it doesn't need to—think of it as the slightly more subdued, inviting counterpart to high-contrast black and white.
Nature is full of blue and green pairings—so it's only right that a deep, earthy green would make our list. Taking cues from green fields and blue skies, or mossy ground and deep blue pools, this pairing is pretty much foolproof.
Looking to punch up navy blue's more spirited, youthful side? Look no further than light turquoise. Take a stroll up your hardware store's paint card to find a shade of blue that complements the navy you've chosen, but in a lighter, brighter formula. A wash of aquatic turquoise or teal (or even Tiffany blue) will invigorate classic navy and bring out its hidden color notes.
Jewel tones have never steered us wrong before—in fact, they're almost as surefire a hit as navy itself. Pair this stately deep blue with pops of rich Bordeaux and emerald to really up the ante in terms of drama—without straying too far from a timeless palette.
Conventional wisdom be damned. It's official: you can pair black and navy. Though the old fashion advice steers against it, we've now seen enough stunning spaces to be convinced that navy and black is a very achievable (and surprisingly appealing) combination. Just make sure to build a bit of contrast into your design with white or gray space to let the eye rest—and choose a higher saturation shade of navy, to avoid it competing too much with the black.
What does navy blue put on when it wants to cut loose? The answer may surprise you. Neon purple brings out a vibrance in this traditional shade that we weren't quite expecting—but now we're really loving it. Of course, there are plenty of wild colors to choose from in the wallpaper seen here, but now that the idea is planted, we're more excited than ever to see a color scheme comprised of navy and neons.
Another well-loved pairing that never gets old: navy and gold. With this combination, there are myriad ways to make it work—and tons of aesthetics that complement it, from traditional to midcentury to fully modern glam. Think of it as the "choose your own adventure" story of color schemes.
A quick rule-of-thumb for color pairings is to choose one hue that's deep and less saturated (think: blue gray), and one that's light and more saturated. This serves as a good example. A leafy, verdant hue brightens up classic navy and gives it a more lively feeling we love.
If you remember this pairing from your childhood Crayola box, we understand—but there's a way to do it that's much more, well, grown-up. Bringing in texture and varying shades from the same blue family keeps this primary color scheme from looking too kindergarten—and adds depth to the design. A few jolts of primary red are all you need to enliven the look.
With desert-chic colors like clay gaining popularity in recent years, it's no surprise that navy and terra cotta have become one of our most sought-after color schemes. Part of the appeal is that blue and orange are complementary colors, so muted, sandy shades bring a high-powered pop of contrast to this reliable shade of blue—and make it feel a little more trendy and current, too.
The same complementary color principle applies to orange-y leathers—with an equally enviable effect. Choosing leathers with a tinge of red or orange accentuates the contrast with navy and achieves a look that's comfortable, subtly Americana-tinged, and welcoming above all. Truth be told, this may be our favorite color pairing to date.
This is one of those "exceptions that proves the rule" spaces. Here, all the colors are muted, rather than juxtaposing in a high-saturation shade as an accent. But the space works—and beautifully, at that. Far from the moody richness of a deep emerald green, this dark sage feels natural and soothing in the context of this navy and light wood environment.