French Blue Holding images Hero (Holding) Image
Photo courtesy @Mayflower Inn

The Art Of Styling French Blue

The best French blue interiors around the world and star designer Celerie Kemble’s guide to incorporating the hue into your home.
Roxanne Robinson Jan 05, 2022
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Why so, blue? No, this isn’t an inquiry into one’s mood but rather why this color, especially French blue, continually looks good and stays fresh. To be certain, Nest Casa spoke to star interior designer Celerie Kemble about why this shade of bleu endures the test of time and for her thoughts on how best to apply it. We were especially curious about incorporating the popular pigment in a beach house, a personal favorite here at Nest Casa.

French Blue’s Majesty

Indeed, the designer, who helms Kemble Interiors in New York and her native Palm Beach, is no stranger to the color. “It still holds magical properties,” she says, recalling the cornflower blue Crayola shade that kids clamored for at the coloring table, for example. “It’s a blue you can almost see into,” says Kemble, comparing it to Prussian blue, which notably was invented synthetically by Diesbach color chemists in Berlin in 1704 and contains further green tones.
It’s a blue you can almost see into.
Certain blues, greens, and browns exist in nature that as human animals we see enough that it doesn’t jar us,” she proposes. “You can still breathe inside a blue room as a natural tone, where a bright red or purple, for example, feels too synthetic.”

However, she maintains that “this color can go anywhere because it brings its own sunshine,” though how it’s used can depend on the location. In cities with significant architectural gravitas such as New York, London, Paris, and San Francisco, Kemble prescribes keeping it simple and paired with cream. “For instance, if you are in a big, weightier city, you speak to the color of the air,” she advises.

It’s a blue you can almost see into.

Certain blues, greens, and browns exist in nature that as human animals we see enough that it doesn’t jar us,” she proposes. “You can still breathe inside a blue room as a natural tone, where a bright red or purple, for example, feels too synthetic.”

French Blue In Manhattan

Notably, one such example of Kemble’s work is the dining room/library of a Manhattan townhouse she completed in 2015. “Like many rooms in New York City, this room had to be multifunctional: for eating, reading, and passing from the living room to the kitchen,” she explains. “What I love about the French blue here is that it’s fresh but still holds the seriousness of the library.” Furthermore, she also recommends using strong colors in a balanced way; in this example, the blue dining/reading room is the most intense overall in the apartment.

Nevertheless, that isn’t to say that in an East Coast corridor a French blue must be staid. Another of Kemble’s recent projects was the Mayflower Inn in Washington, Connecticut. There, she engaged the Parisian shade through festive, lush wallpapers in the reception area and bathrooms for instance. Hence for the latter, she plucked from her collection of Schumacher paper that she designed in collaboration with the storied wallcoverings brand. To demonstrate, the style, called Bouquet Toss, uses varying shades of the color that Kemble swears you won’t get sick of.

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French Blue In Palm Beach

In places such as Kemble’s native Palm Beach, however, the blue takes on a different personality. In that tropical environment, for example, she pairs it with bright white instead of cream. While she considers this color combo ubiquitous, she also sees it as a challenge to create something unique. “I recommend pairing it with a zesty color, like bright sunny yellow, geranium pink, or African daisy orange,” she says. “Ultimately, it feels fresh and bright in this location.”

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Moreover, adding to its success is the landscaping and exterior of the property itself. “You can be sassy when you are in a tropical or beach setting because these colors go with the quality of the sunlight and intensity of greenery, and especially the colorful flowers.” Kemble describes her taste and lifestyle in her hometown. “It’s a bit sassy — think bare feet — and tastes like a glass of lemonade.” Namely, she stops herself short anything that sounds too saccharine or sappy. “I have a quick noxious meter, so I use French blue and bright colors with a bit of temperance.”

French Blue And White

Nest Casa couldn’t agree more. A vivid blue-and-white combo, even with a bright pop, can easily be tempered with natural fibers when styling a coastal home. Rattan furniture, jute carpets, and grasscloth wallcoverings all support the theme. In particular, Baker’s Bay Ocean & Golf Club in the Bahamas grounds this blue-and-white lobby and sitting room overlooking the ocean in rattan and wicker for a calm and natural atmosphere. 

Additionally, French blue and white prove popular in other wallcoverings, demonstrated by this Savannah, Georgia, showhouse using Michelle Nussbaumer fabrics or on a wallpapered closet. Simply painting dramatic architecture with this Parisian favorite — for instance, with this arched entryway that leads to a big blue painting tableau, or showing up unexpectedly in this kitchen island in a Dallas home — may ignite a lifelong love of this lovely hue.

French Blue erinsander
Photo courtesy @erinsander IG

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French Blue Complementary Color: Orange

These color wheel opposites certainly make for a winning combo. This graphic French blue kitchen by Anthony Authié of Zyva Studio Paris douses the walls and cabinetry of this kitchen, dining area, and reading nook in the soothing shade and gives a modern pop of pigment via Los Angeles designer’s Ara Thorose’s ‘soft cylinder’ chairs. Ultimately, the dynamic tones of French blue combined with this coral shade of orange are dramatic yet not overwhelming.

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Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter,, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and among others.
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