Colors that go with navy blue – designers on how to combine this moody hue
These are the best colors that go with navy blue, according to designers, whether you're looking for a bold or subtle combination
Looking for colors that go with navy blue? Blue still remains everyone's favorite shade to decorate with, perhaps because it's bold and can feel like a brave choice, but in some ways, it also acts like a neutral, easy to work with, suits any style and can be combined with so many other colors. And of all the blues, this versatility is no more apparent than in the ever-popular navy.
Dark and moody in some lights, and muted and soothing in others, it's a chameleon of a shade, which does mean it can lend itself to almost every other color on the color wheel.
But how do you decide on the best combination for your space and style? We asked the color theory experts on their favorite colors to mix with navy blue, from zingy yellows to more subtle neutral tones. Find out what colors go with grey too, in our expert guide.
What colors go with navy blue?
'Muted and moody, soothing and super versatile navy is one of those colors that pairs beautifully with so many others.' explains Abigail Ahern. 'From the classic creams and whites to my favorites earthy greens which I happen to think are one of the most foolproof combos ever. Just look to mother nature for reassurance there. You can also pair navy with jewel tones like burnt orange and saffron yellows as well as blacks and let's not forget golds. Gold and navy is such a well-loved pairing it literally enlivens everything!'
So whether you are after bold pairing or something more traditional, there's a navy blue palette to suit...
1. Navy blue and blush pink
Navy blue and blush pink are the classic hues to choose for the most sophisticated, grown-up look. The shades just work so well to balance each other out. The muted warm rosy tones of blush pink counteract any of the cooler tones of the deep blue and the navy prevents the pink from looking too sweet and sickly.
The key is to get the undertones right. The majority of blush pinks do have that blueish undertone, it's what gives them their muted tone, but be sure to order samples of your paint or fabric and see how the two shades sit together.
2. Navy blue and crisp white
We couldn't not have a crisp white right up there as one of the best colors to pair with navy. It's the oldest, most tried combination and we will never tire of it. Classic, clean, and crisp it's a mix that lends itself to any room and any style, but it works particularly well in kitchens for a look that's bold and yet timeless. Consider opting for a two-tone look, mixing dark navy cabinets with a true white island.
It's a lovely combination for a bedroom too. There's something very hotel-esque opt for a deep soft matte navy blue all over the walls (and ceiling if you are feeling brave) combined with crisp white bedlinen and accents of white decor.
3. Navy blue and lilac
Lilac and lavender have been gaining quite a bit of traction recently, with trend forecasters predicted it's likely to be the color of the year 2023. It's a very calming hue, that much like pink does need something darker to ground it and give it a less saccharine quality. Hence why it works so well with navy blue. It has the same cool undertones but adds a softness to the darker shade and you can find lilac shades that are so subtle, they almost just act like a neutral.
'I’ve always been lavender skeptical, perhaps because I’m insecure in my own masculinity? Well, I’m insecure no more! Lavender is the pastel du jour and I am obsessed with it.' says Jonathan Adler. 'Lavender feels dreamy and floaty and surreal. And lavender plays well with others – navy, chocolate brown, taupe, and white.'
4. Navy blue and mustard yellow
Like all dark colors, navy blue is the perfect backdrop for making bright bold hues really pop. A sunny mustard yellow stands out so vividly against navy blue walls even just a splash of it becomes the focal point in a room. It's also a lovely shade for warming up a navy blue color scheme as this steely blue living room demonstrates – the dark walls and cool grey sofa need that accent of something warmer to make this space feel more inviting.
Most yellow tones work with navy blue, but mustard tends to be the go-to as it's not as high-contrast as say a lemon yellow, and creates a slightly more muted combination that feels fun and fresh but it's not overly dramatic.
5. Navy blue and light grey
Grey and navy blue may sound like there would be too many cool tones going on and it would risk making a space feel frosty. However, pick the right warm light grey and pair it with a beautifully soft midnight blue and the mix becomes one of the coziest and most cocooning combinations on the color wheel.
It's a palette that works best in bedrooms and living rooms where you have plenty of opportunities to layer up textures and mix tactile fabrics. Be inspired by this blue bedroom idea and mix pale greys, whites, and deep navy blues by layering bedlinen in various textures.
6. Navy blue and rust orange
The color wheel already tells us this is a combination that's meant to work. Complementary colors sit opposite each other so orange was made to pair with blue, the warmth balancing out the cool of the navy. And it doesn't have to be a dramatic high-contrasting scheme (although we do love how tangerines really zing against navy), a deep rusty orange looks beautiful against the moodier tones of a dark blue.
'There are plenty of complementary color options to choose from when it comes to navy. To create a contrast, look at colors such as browns, reds and oranges. Orange sits just next to yellow on the color wheel and works particularly well with navy as the bright tones of the orange make the dark blue appear even deeper.' says the designer and head of creative at Swyft, Kelly Collins.
7. Navy blue and fresh greens
Blue and green should never be seen right? Wrong! Navy blue and a really fresh bright can be a really sophisticated, traditional pairing and blue really should be consider as a color that goes with green. The green really lifts the navy, giving it a much fresher and livelier look. 'As long as you carefully pair the right tones, this color combination can be an unexpected, yet striking pairing. By using the same tonal color group, the two hues will complement one another,' explains Helen Shaw, UK Director at Benjamin Moore.
'When creating a contrasting palette, we recommend thinking about splitting the room into ratios. With the main color being 60% of the scheme, 30% the secondary, and 10% an accent. The accent color can help to break up an ultra-contrasting scheme and allows the look to be tied together. Rich and dramatic, or pale and interesting, you can look at all variants of these shades, from forest greens or navy to teal and aquamarine hues. These tones feel rich and dramatic and can add a sense of theater to any room.'
8. Navy blue and warm neutrals
For a more calming and subtle palette, mix navy blues with warm neutrals. Look for neutral shades that have pink or yellow undertones, it will bring out the warmer tones in the navy blue you pair it with and create a color scheme that feels calm and soothing, perfect for bedrooms or living rooms.
‘When bringing navy into the home I suggest mixing it with soft natural shades, such as Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone, with its clay-like hue, this is the perfect natural color to make navy pop. With dusty blues set to be big in 2022, bring in on-trend touches of pale blue to harmonize the room, creating a serene and tranquil living space where navy stands proud.’ explains interior designer Juliette Thomas.
9. Navy blue and rich lighter blues
Blue on blue might sound bland, but going all over with a single color always has a surprisingly striking effect. Trying pairing navy blue furniture, whether that be a sofa or a headboard, with slightly lighter rich blue walls for a calming and cocooning look. Add some much-needed warmth with gold accents as can be seen here with the mirror and the lighting.
Also, note how this isn't actually a huge room, it looks very grand and elegant because of the high ceilings, but in terms of floor space, it's a relatively small living room. Monochrome schemes are great for smaller spaces because they can blur the edges of the room so you don't notice the dimensions, and the room isn't broken up by blocks of different colors.
10. Navy blue and aubergine
Both being jewel-like tones, navy blue and deep rich purples are a sumptuous combination that would be perfect if you want to create a cozy but sophisticated living room or bedroom. Experiment with a deep aubergine on the walls and combine it with a statement piece of navy blue velvet furniture for a pairing that's moody and dramatic but also so elegant and timeless. Add in some golden accents for extra glamour.
As you can see, navy blue really is a color that works with a variety of shades. We'd almost consider it a dark neutral, capable of fading into the background while providing more interest than a dark grey or black.
How can I use navy blue in an on-trend way?
One of the boldest ways to use navy blue in 2023 is to go all-in on the shade. 'There are so many ways to use this color but one of my favorite approaches is to bath a room in a color,' interior designer Jewel Marlowe, founder of Jeweled Interiors, tells us. 'Visually, this will take up about 50-60% of the room.'
To make the overall scheme more interesting, Jewel then suggests layering in other shades, especially those from the other side on the color wheel. 'I might layer in the neutral sofas and drapes, but I then punch it up with pops of red or pink,' Jewel suggests. 'A design like this results in a room that is soothing, yet visually interesting.'
Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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