Blue and white interior style is having what some might say is a long overdue renaissance. It is the smart tailored preppy design aesthetic that’s long been associated with the East Coast of America. A significant factor in this revival is the recent appointment of US interior designer Mark D Sikes by the First Lady, Jill Biden to redecorate her East Wing office at The White House. But inspiration comes too from the UK and from Singapore.
Flying the flag for blue and white
Mark Sike’s innate style and love of blue and white design flies the flag for tailored smart-casual interiors that work as well in a Cape Cod Beach house as I can imagine they will in a Presidential home.
Blue and white tented stripes
This beautiful, Spring-like room is in Mark Sikes’ own home. He describes it as multi-functional combining a library, guest and dressing room. With its amazing tented ceiling, the carefully tailored blue and white design mixes subtle design references from Classical to Gustavian and Regency periods.
Mark has used a pretty pleated pendant light from Vaughan, and I love how he has resisted the urge to apply pleated fabric on the tented ceiling too but has instead designed it to stretch as a flat piece in a playful use of angles. The combination of Classical inspired white painted bookcases, Swedish antique daybed and round table work so well with the textured woven flooring.
It’s all in the details
Creating blue and white interiors of this quality requires a laser-sharp attention to detail – and that includes having a good seamstress and upholsterer in your armoury! Straight edges are precision engineered and when they are frilled, scalloped or box pleated, they are perfectly done. Upholstery for cushions is plump, in fact let’s say ‘super plump’, while braids and ribbons are used to edge plain fabric upholstery and soft furnishings in contrasting colour.
Contrast piping for upholstery is king, as is the use of glamorous fringes to finish skirted upholstery. Striped fabrics are seen as smarter than checks, while Ikats, tree of life or chinoiserie designs are often incorporated.
This level of interior couture is not normally associated with holiday houses. But it is a look that was originally conceived for coastal homes of the political elite. Specifically for families such as the Kennedys whose status informed how their Palm Beach vacation home aka the ‘Winter White House’ was decorated.
Beachy more laid back elements of contrasting bamboo and white painted furniture, natural flooring and blinds are also essential to the look. And, of course, there is always room for bobbin furniture and flowers in ‘power vase arrangements’!
The power vase arrangement
Flower arrangements have become more naturalistic in the UK but, if you want a glamorous US style ‘power vase’, you need to fill it with single species of either white or blush pink hydrangeas, peonies or roses. Make sure the height of the flowers is all the same and that each bloom is almost equal in size and beauty. No pressure!
Blue and white is a breath of fresh air
To my mind, blue and white is always a breath of fresh air. The relaxing connotations of holidays, of sea and sky are perhaps obvious but blue and white is the perfect combination if you are looking for a colour palette that isn’t too overpowering.
With the exception of bespoke soft furnishings, blue and white is also generally easy to find on the high street.
Elizabeth Hay Design
A Singapore-based British interior designer whose work always catches my eye is Elizabeth Hay for her fresh perspective and delightful fusion of design influences. You may remember I featured some of Elizabeth’s work on the blog a couple of years ago.
My eye is drawn this time to the blue and white scallop upholstery (love the trim) and contrasting oriental bamboo console.
Blue and white coastal accessories
These lovely prints are in handmade, handpainted bobbin frames. The shells are from a collection of Bohome reprints scanned onto handmade cotton rag paper with a dark red border by @Bohomeinteriors.
Amy Kent x Gaby Deeming and Day Dress
Bespoke rug designer Amy Kent is launching a collaboration with Gaby Deeming of Day Dress (former Creative Director of House & Garden) on 14 to 18 March 2022 at The Design Centre Chelsea Harbour for London Design Week.
‘Pheasant is based on the blockprinting designs of Gaby’s Day Dress company and can be seen in their ‘House Guest’ stand on the Avenue at The Design Centre during London Design Week. All rugs will be for sale at the end of the show!
Blue and white at Styling Box
Classic blue and white designs are popular choices for Styling Box clients.
Affordable, designer fabrics
Haines Collection is a fantastic business set up by Nell Haines to prevent wastage in the interiors industry. Haines has a website that sells ends of lines and remnants of interior design products – some with slight defects that might previously have gone into landfill. You can take a look by searching by colour, pattern, usage and price at Haines Collection.
For more blue and white interiors inspiration, you might also like to take a look at:
Thank you so much for reading this post. I feel very conflicted writing such a frivolous piece at this difficult time but I hope it has given you a little escapist inspiration.
I would very much like though to congratulate Mark Sikes on his appointment but also to thank Elizabeth Hay and all the companies featured whose products help to make the world a beautiful place.
It is frightening and utterly heartbreaking to see the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe, one none of us hoped we would ever see again. For those who would like the link, please donate here:
https://www.dec.org.uk/ – The Disasters Emergency Committee which includes 15 leading UK aid charities.
With best wishes,