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Color Trends 2020: Getting Down With Denim Accents

Pantone’s color of the year for 2020 is Classic Blue, but while this bright, almost-primary blue is certainly taking the design world by storm, one unexpected cousin has stepped up to the plate as well: denim blue. Even as the debate rages on whether skinny jeans are still “in” and whether jeggings count as jeans, beautiful denim blues have started showing up in home decor. Better still, you don’t need your favorite pair of boots (cowboy or city-chic) to pull off this look on your own. Just a few blue-jean-inspired accents can add color and texture to your space, and get your home looking lovely, leggy, and on trend.

Wallpaper

Modern temporary and paste-free wallpaper might not erase the memory of a bad past project, but it might teach you to love wallpaper again (by Michael Davis Design & Construction)
Modern temporary and paste-free wallpaper might not erase the memory of a bad past project, but it might teach you to love wallpaper again (by Michael Davis Design & Construction)

One of the places I’ve been seeing denim blue show up the most is actually one I find pretty surprising: as wallpaper. Now, anyone who’s lived through a good old-fashioned struggle to put up or take down vintage paste-style wallpaper probably (justly) wants nothing to do with the stuff ever again. But modern wallpaper isn’t only easier to put up, it’s also easier to take down, which has made it a surprisingly accessible and effective way to add an accent color to your space. Better still, denim-inspired wallpaper is more than just color, but has a raised and (you guessed it) denim-like texture that makes it much more than just the solid slab of color you’d get from a can of paint.

Denim blue wallpaper is distinctly different from blue paint, offering a gorgeous depth of color and texture that makes a perfect accent wall (by Gaile Guevara)
Denim blue wallpaper is distinctly different from blue paint, offering a gorgeous depth of color and texture that makes a perfect accent wall (by Gaile Guevara)

If you love the look and feel of Pantone’s classic blue, but are hesitant to hop on any year-specific color trend, denim blue wallpaper is actually an excellent option… as long as you opt for a temporary or paste-free option that can be as easily taken down as put up, similar to a vinyl decal. This is a particularly good option for renters who might not be allowed to paint but want to add personality to their space, or for a room you’d like to be able to change up often, without having to do a total repaint-and-remodel.

Accent Furniture

Whether on its own or mixed in with other shades of blue, a piece of denim blue furniture is a great way to add a little stylish pop to your space (by iPozdnyakov Studio)
Whether on its own or mixed in with other shades of blue, a piece of denim blue furniture is a great way to add a little stylish pop to your space (by iPozdnyakov Studio)

I’ve also been seeing a big surge in denim (or at least denim blue colored) accent furniture. While you won’t necessarily find furniture that feels to the touch like your favorite pair of jeans, a medium-wash, textured blue upholstery is fast becoming a go-to, especially in the living room. Again like classic blue, it’s a color that’s bold enough to feel assertive in whatever room you put it in, but denim blue backs down a little from the bold, primary feel that makes classic blue easy to overdo.

The trick to making denim blue work with your decor is to treat it like you would an outfit: not too matchy-matchy, and mixed with other colors and fabrics (by Esteriör)
The trick to making denim blue work with your decor is to treat it like you would an outfit: not too matchy-matchy, and mixed with other colors and fabrics (by Esteriör)

In fact, depending on the “wash,” I’ve even seen whole living room sets – sofa, loveseat, and chairs – done in denim blue as a toned-down alternative to avoid a nautical-navy feel. On the flip side, too much denim in your living room can feel like too much denim in an outfit. You can only get away with a denim jacket and jeans if they’re done in different colors and you leave your denim messenger bag at home (and you’d probably be better off swapping out one or the other anyway!). So if you opt for a denim blue sofa, you might want to look for different colored chairs – and vice versa.

Area Rugs

Adding a little touch of gray to a classic blue gives you something very denim-like...and a color that's much more netural feeling (from Uttermost)
Adding a little touch of gray to a classic blue gives you something very denim-like…and a color that’s much more netural feeling (from Uttermost)

Which leads me to the third major way to add this classic-in-a-different-way blue to your decor: area rugs. While also rarely made of actual denim, muted blue-and-white speckled rugs are soaring in popularity as a way to add a bold piece of color that won’t totally dominate your room. This works well because unlike classic blue or navy, which are both shades (black added to blue), denim is a tone (gray added to blue), which gives it a softer, more mellow look and feel that’s not quite so in-your-face.

Denim blue area rugs are perfect for an open greatroom, helping create boundaries between different areas without closing off the space (by Von Fitz Design)
Denim blue area rugs are perfect for an open greatroom, helping create boundaries between different areas without closing off the space (by Von Fitz Design)

Denim blue rugs in particular are really good at masquerading as both a neutral and a color, striking that oh-so-delicate balance between blending in and standing out. In a room dominated by light neutrals, a dark-wash denim blue can be very grounding, and do a great job pulling together your furniture set. It’s also bold enough to create a really distinctive line – which makes it a great choice for distinguishing between different areas of a greatroom in a way that’s clear but not overwhelming… as long as you don’t pair it with a matching jean sofa, chairs, and denim wallpaper!

While denim blue probably doesn’t sound like the best new neutral of 2020, you shouldn’t knock it til you try it. This weathered-yet-distinctive color is perfect for adding both color and texture to just about any room in your home, without making you feel like your sofa’s committing a fashion faux-pas!