Color 2012: Blue cobalt is retro, saturated and plays nice with other midcentury colors

vintage textile art 1960sblue mountainsDecorating with blueThe Retro Renovation 2012 Color of the Year is Bitossi Rimini Blu, a shade named after the famous, rich, deep glaze on Italian-made Bitossi pottery designed by Aldo Londi around 1959. Also known as Cobalt Blue, this is a classy, retro color that “plays well” with a wide variety of other shades, including orange, gold, avocado, brown, red — it’s very versatile. To demonstrate, I roamed all around my house on Saturday and took photos of art and accessories that that incorporate this color. Note, in this study, I have been pretty liberal about the what goes in this color family. It’s all good. Read on for a festival of blue — 28 photos in all.

Rimini blu BitossiI have two bona-fide Bitossi Rimini Blue vases. Chippy of World of Tile had them in her stash. Over the months, we have become good friends, and she sent them to me. In return, I am giving her free advertising on the blog. This photo was taken in natural light. I did dial up the “black” in Lightroom a wee bit. Note: I retouched most all the other photos as well, improving the exposure and dialing up the contrast and black and, in some cases, the saturation. My photos as taken were a bit washed out because I was using an automatic point-and-shoot camera, and it was a pretty sunny day. What I mean to say is: Cobalt blue is a rich, high-saturation color. No “low chroma” greige here. It is an assertive color.
Following are my studies. First: Framed textile art from the 1960s, I went nuts with this, due to my exceptional visual intelligence:
blue artcobalt bluecobalt blue textile

blue textiles

vintage textile detail

Painting study — I purchased this painting when I lived out in the country about 20 years ago:
painting of country landscapeblue paintblue mountains
A little bit of a Joan Miro poster from a Museum of Modern Art exhibit that I went to in 1986. I am feeling old writing this story:
Framed vintage needlepoint mimicking a Chinese Ancestor painting (read more about this art form here and here). I bought this piece cheap last year and layered it into the tablescape sitting in the arched, mirrored built-in cabinet in the dining room:
chinese ancestor paintingchinese ancestorvintage needlepoint chinese ancestor
A study in blue from around the house: Pillows, figurines, glassware, in vignettes and tablescapes collecting lots o’ dust here ‘n there:
stangl birdstangl birdoriental rug blueoriental rug detail
blue needlepoint pillow Gblue bargelloblue glassblue and goldThank you for putting up with my artsy mostly fartsy photo spread!



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  1. JKaye says

    I think we need to listen to this recording of Blue on Blue by Bobby Vinton while looking at Pam’s lovely blue touches.

    I think I could come up with just as many blue touches around my home, too. I say that green is my favorite color, but it always gets so bossy, and I just use a little of it. But blue, particularly this lovely cobalt blue, is so easy to live with.

  2. clampers says

    I like this color. Am currently (maybe) looking for a cobalt blue shower curtain to go with the vintage towels I just bought off Etsy. Haven’t received them yet so I need to see them first to be sure about the color.

  3. says

    Thanks for the inspiration – again! We painted our master bedroom a similar blue called Blue Luxury from Behr and I have been having a heck of a time finding coordinating bedding outside of whites and grays. I’m especially liking the combo with the pink in the Miro print.

  4. Tami says

    Ditto on the blue-painted bedroom, but ours is a very dark shade of cobalt: Majestic Blue from Olympic’s Biltmore Estate collection. I’ve found bedding in combos of tans and golds go very well with it. I also made drapes and covered lampshades with a fabric mentioned on here once, Bosporus by Covington. They look terrific together.

    I love this year’s choice! You’re right, it plays well with so much.

  5. Veronika says

    What?! No cobalt blue glass bottles? These are my favorite sitting on a window sill. I have cobalt blue perfume bottles from an ex boyfriend’s grandmother. Love love cobalt glass….

  6. says

    I absolutely love this color! And I love the blue things in your house, especially the blue & gold rug, blue vase, and the pillows. Hey, I know what you mean about 1986 – but it reminds me that I have a Calder poster with this blue as the main color. I need to get that framed.

    Thanks for sharing pictures of your beautiful blue things with us!

  7. RudigerVT says

    My mom is all about blue, blue, blue. “Blue Onion” dinnerware (actually Lipper’s ‘Blue Danube.’) Some Wedgewood. But I sent her a link to this posting as she’s debating a re-do on her house’s main bathroom. I say, Mom….blue, blue, blue!

  8. Annie B. says

    You’ve definitely got a case of Cosmic Blues! I am green with envy over those Bitossi Rimini pieces. Chippy, I wanna be your friend, too.

    Great great stuff, Pam. Let’s see more of the old home place, please.

  9. gsciencechick says

    We have cobalt blue pendants over our sink, in the hanging light fixture over our kitchen table, and in the ceiling fan in our LR.

  10. Jay says

    Pam, thanks for sharing the “blues”. Especially liked your WOT vases. I’m a sucker for cobalt blue and dark green glass & pottery. Always on the lookout at antique malls. You have a great eye for color!

  11. says

    Somewhere in my life I remember upholstery in this blue shade. I loved it. Maybe the late 60s early 70s. It seems like it came before harvest gold and avocado green. Maybe along with orange.

  12. says

    We love this color in my house! Love the photo inspiration post too. I have to admit, I’m kind of freaking out about the yarn-thing third pic from the bottom… What is it??? I’m in love with the pattern, and I can’t figure out if it’s crocheted or knit or something else! I would love to see more pictures of that too… srsly obsessed, it has some kind of spell over me 😀

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