There’s something unique about watery blue-greens such as teal, turquoise, and aqua. They have great depth, and a vibrant energy while also being calming. Read more to find out how I became hooked on decorating with these colours, and how my favourites have changed over time.
Teal, turquoise, and aqua – An obsession that began with aqua
I have an obsession with all things teal, turquoise, aqua or any other delightful shade of blue-ish green. I’m not even entirely sure when it began.
I know it wasn’t in childhood, since I’m not sure I had a favourite colour as a kid. Regardless, we didn’t tend to include tertiary colours when discussing our favourites. Favourite colours were usually limited to the ROY G. BIV variety. (Well, except indigo. I’m STILL not sure what colour that is exactly.)
I do know I did not like pink. Growing up, I had particularly blinding, verging-towards-hot-pink walls with pale pink sponged overtop. My room was later repainted mint green. And when I went to university, I chose bright colours – you know, to be cool. Ha!
But sometime in early adulthood, when choosing items for our first, second, or third apartments (we moved a lot), I latched onto aqua. I would definitely call it aqua at that point in the early days of my obsession. It was a very bright, sweet, shade.
There are so many objects in our home that are aqua, turquoise, teal or other blue-green shades that it would be impossible to show them all. Therefore I’ll profile a few of my favourites over the years and in different places we’ve lived.
Favourite Bright Aqua Pieces
One summer, we purchased a really neat window frame from an architectural salvage place in the country. I painted it a bright aqua. Then we turned it upside down and added a chalkboard behind it. Here it is in an earlier apartment, displaying the menu for a dinner we hosted.
We haven’t hung this chalkboard up yet in our new home, but I have plans to. I might repaint it a slightly different shade though, and the chalkboard surface could use some TLC.
When we moved into one rental apartment, the kitchen was the most intense golden yellow. I like yellow, but sunglasses were required. The landlord agreed to let us paint, and I chose a light aqua colour of course, Diamond Blue (CIL 10BG). I believe this was our first time ever painting a room ourselves. Here is an old (poor-quality) photo of this tiny kitchen.
One of my favourite early aqua purchases was a single lamp from HomeSense. To me, it’s just the perfect shade and shape and I’ve been very careful to make sure it never gets knocked off a table and that it safely survives every move. I think these lamps were quite common though because my husband’s cousin had a pair of the same lamps. And I was very excited to see an identical one in Olivia Pope’s living room on the show Scandal.
A red and aqua vintage wedding
When we got married, we knew instantly that we wanted a vintage wedding. We chose a vintage ring together, and I selected a knee-length dress. At first we considered pink and grey for colours, but I don’t actually like pink or grey, so that idea didn’t last long.
And then I hit on red and aqua. They were my favourite colours to decorate with, so why not use them for our wedding? Red and aqua are not exactly common wedding colours, but that didn’t stop us.
We did a lot of things differently for our wedding, including choosing a morning ceremony and afternoon reception, and we served pie instead of cake.
The red and aqua added such a punch of colour, a burst of energy, and fun vintage charm. My one regret is accidentally ruining the shoes I’d had died aqua before our big day and having to sub in red shoes instead.
To read more about our red and aqua vintage wedding, check out the full post about it here.
“No more aqua!”
Then, after a few years of buying every aqua thing I saw, we reached a period of time where my husband decreed “No more aqua!” I don’t think it’s that he didn’t like aqua, but rather he felt that we had too much of it. I’m not sure that I ever really stopped liking aqua things or buying them however. But I can also see that bright or icy shades of aqua in large amounts can be candy-confection-sweet, or very retro and kitschy. Luckily for both of us, as my tastes have matured, the shades of blue-green that I’m drawn to have darkened and become much more moody than sweet. My husband seems to prefer these darker shades and he doesn’t seem to mind that we keep buying statement pieces in those colours.
Teal, turquoise, aqua: Not just for decorative accents – or accent walls
One philosophy of decorating with colour says to keep everything else neutral and just use colour in your decorative accents – like throw pillows and candles. Another possibility is to put colour on your walls – or maybe just one accent wall, but to keep your furniture neutral.
I prefer not to follow those ideas. I really love to have some pieces of furniture that are a big punch of colour. Then I like to stick with neutral walls and architectural details, and have a mix of colourful and neutral accents. One example of this colourful furniture is the vintage-style green couch that we got from Hudson’s Bay.
Having large colourful items in a room can have a big impact and draw your eye. I think that if a piece is going to be a focal point because of its colour, that the style and form of the piece has to be appealing enough to be worthy of emphasis. If you have a large couch, but you dislike the silhouette of it, you’ll probably still dislike it even if it were reupholstered in a fun colour.
Another example of a piece of furniture that is definitely not neutral is our vintage metal barrister bookcase. I think this might be my favourite piece of furniture that we own. (It’s full of too many things at the moment while we’re waiting to build a bookshelf beside the fireplace and it’s difficult to photograph with the glass, so bear with me.) But it is the most fantastic shade of blue-green that I have a hard time describing. It’s too green for turquoise, and too light for teal. I’m not going to give up until I come up with the perfect name for this colour.
You can also read about our much loved aqua/mint green vintage lockers here.
What do you even call this shade?
Over the past few years, my colour preferences have still been blue-greens, but they have changed within that scope. I’m opting less for aqua, turquoise, and bluer shades, and instead gravitating toward slightly darker, greener and greyer shades. They’re a bit more muddied and moody instead of being a bright, clear colour. While the new colours I love are still cool colours on the colour wheel, they have more warmth than the bright and icy aquas I loved in the past.
Here’s an interesting comparison – on the left is Diamond Blue (CIL 10BG – but I’m not sure it’s the same as a current Glidden/CIL Diamond Blue) that I painted our kitchen a few apartments ago. It’s a very cool and bright colour. On the right are two colours we’ve used in our current house: Wythe Blue (Benjamin Moore HC-143), and Meteorological (Behr N430-6) which I used on my sewing table legs. Both of those new colours are much more grey and much more green, demonstrating how my tastes have changed over time.
However, I find that these more moody blue-green shades are hard to describe because they have more depth and nuance. Can you call them creamy teal, grey-green, or muted turquoise? Nothing feels quite right to me.
Ikea loves aqua, turquoise and . . . gray-turquoise!
Ikea has carried a lot of pieces in blue-green shades at various points over the past decade or so. I was so overjoyed when they released this rolling cart in such a nice muted turquoise a number of years ago. This cart has served us well in several apartments as a side table beside the couch to corral remotes and dog toys. In our current home, it’s sitting beside my desk and it holds painting and office supplies. I love that it’s easy to roll out of the way when I need to take photographs.
Ikea currently has a whole bunch of other items in a new blue-green colour. I find it fascinating to see that Ikea has named this new colour gray-turquoise. If you do a search for gray-turquoise on Ikea’s site, you will receive a listing of products in that beautiful colour. One of my favourites are the NATTJASMIN sheets. These sheets are partly made with lyocell and we love ours. Searching instead for just turquoise will yield a different, brighter set of products. Looking at all those beautiful blue-green shades is making me want to go shopping at Ikea and make some impulse purchases!
Teal, turquoise, aqua: Changing shades around the house for cohesive design
There is variety in the colour schemes and accent colours of rooms around our house. However, I have intentionally used different shades of blue-green in each room. Having blue-greens appear in some form in every room of the house makes the whole house feel cohesive. As you move from one room to the next, the similar colours help your brain and eyes connect what they’re seeing now to what they saw previously. It also helps rooms feel related that are within sight lines of others.
In our kitchen, the blue-green tends to be a little brighter and more aqua. In the living room, it’s deeper and more green because of the couch and the barrister bookcase. But ultimately, the shade doesn’t matter that much because I love ALL the blue-greens. Teal, turquoise, aqua and those harder-to-describe blue-green shades are my jam.
Why I love decorating with blue-green shades
I love to decorate with blue-greens because they can simultaneously bring some energy to a space while still being calming and serene. According to colour psychology, blue can lead to feelings of calm and serenity, but also bring productivity. Green evokes nature, health and tranquility. It can also be calming, yet exciting. Colour psychology suggests turquoise, and other blue-greens can make us feel refreshed and calm, yet energized and creative. I think this is why I enjoy using these colours in our home. They help to manage my anxiety, but also leave me feeling inspired.
To see how I love to incorporate turquoise into our fall decor, check out Turquoise for Fall.
Do you like blue-green shades?
I want to hear from you. Do you love blue-green shades as much as I do? Would you decorate with them? Or do you prefer warmer colours? What is your favourite accent colour to incorporate into your home? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,