Aqua color, short for “aquamarine,” is a light bluish-greenish color. Its name connotes water, and if you consider the variations of natural water coloring across our globe, it will come as no surprise that aqua exists with many variations as well. The color varies in tint and shade (lighter and darker), as well as tone (warmer and cooler).
Aqua can feel greenish-blue in its warmer versions and bluish-green in its cooler ones. Regardless, the color aqua is certainly one to become familiar with for use in interior design and décor.
A pale, cool aqua works well in a neutral space, such as this grey kitchen. The aqua lowers provide some fresh color into the space, but they match in tone and, therefore, don’t detract from the Zen flow and peaceful energy in this functional room.
In its purer form, aqua is a color with a high level of “gravitational pull.” That is, most of us are attracted to aqua’s warm energy when the color is used somewhat sparingly and strategically. Aqua is naturally confident and structured, but it’s also flexible enough to be playful when needed, depending on the setting and situation.
Aqua works well in neutral spaces as well as in settings where plenty of other colors exist; aqua has an inherent quality of team-player-ness that might seem strange for a color so vibrant itself. The rich hue only makes other rich, deep colors stand out to their best aesthetic, which is an all-around win.
It doesn’t take much aqua color to insert the level of energy you want in a space; in fact, a dab here or there is really all you need to keep the eye moving. Aqua exemplifies good taste, whether in art, home décor, or fashion, and its variations help to keep the color in use in an innovative way without being overly matchy-matchy.
Some words that are associated with aqua include: nurturing, playful, mature, guilt-free, confident, and releasing. As a free spirit in the color sense, aqua looks exceptional when paired with other grounding or earth-centered objects and colors, such as aqua chairs around a natural dining table. Aqua can be dressed up or down, with marble or wood, and look just as at-home in either case.
Aqua, because it involves the serenity of its blue parent and the life-giving energy of its green heritage, is caught between two worlds, of acceptance and guilt. The color works beautifully with natural light and/or other light sources, perhaps because the light gives a sense of clarity to a color whose aesthetic effect is innately muddled.
No matter how much blue is in the tone of aqua you’re looking at, the fact is that there is definitely blue in there (or it wouldn’t be aqua). This means that, with every aqua piece, there is a soothing force and effect. Embrace this idea, and use aqua to calm anxiety while stimulating creativity.
This combination of grey, black, butter yellow, and pale aqua shows how aqua is adept at playing “nice” in mult-color palettes. Particularly in its paler, softer tints, aqua is able to bring a feeling of colorful energy to a space without reading, overtly, as a color itself. This versatility makes aqua such a wonderful color in many designs and with various styles.
When considering aqua in your home décor, consider this as well: burgundy/wine, as its complementary color, makes an excellent pairing with aqua. Using complementary colors together help them to balance each other and bring out the best qualities of each. (Read more about complementary colors here.)
SPECIFIC SHADES OF AQUA
Cyan is a blue-based aqua color used as one of the three primary colors for printing (along with magenta and yellow). There is a slight amount of green in cyan, but it’s much closer to the cool side of the spectrum. Cyan is associated with perception and intuition.
Aero blue is a pale, almost icy shade of aqua that incorporates as much grey as blue-green. It’s close to a neutral by itself, so aero blue is a good choice of aqua to use in larger doses than other aquas. Be sure to balance the cool effect with some warming natural elements as well.
This is where “aqua” gets its name, although the specific aquamarine color is less flexible than the category of “aqua color.” Aquamarine is vibrant, enthusiastic, and cheerful. As a major player in maritime settings, aquamarine works perfectly with plenty of natural pieces.
I know, it might feel like a cop-out to use “blue-green” as a name for a shade of aqua when that’s basically the definition of aqua itself. But it’s a standard name, and it connotes a tone slightly deeper than regular aqua, so we’re going to go with it. Blue-green is mature, sensitive, and insightful. It thrives in contemporary spaces with plenty of structure and clean lines.
The fluffy pillow in this bedding is a hue called “celeste,” and it’s quite endearing. Celeste is soft and pale but also with enough depth in its coloring to stand up for itself. It lightens up a cool setting (notice its pop against the greyish wood headboard) without being abrasive.
One of the favorite shades of aqua in the design world today, cerulean is a rich, gorgeous combination of deep blue and green. It exudes luxury in its saturation but retains the confident-yet-peaceful traits of aqua in general. Cerulean pairs equally well with other neutral hues or vibrant ones.
Venturing more toward the greener side of the spectrum with dark cyan, this aqua shade is a slightly lighter, warmer version of cerulean. It looks gorgeous as an accent piece and provides all the color a neutral vignette might need.
A healing, therapeutic version of aqua, greenish keppel exudes a balance of work, play, and healing (old-earth.com). It looks stunning when paired with soft white, crisp grey, and neutral khaki colors.
As a nature-based color, aqua pairs well with earthy, organic, textural pieces and silhouettes…and light cyan is no exception, particularly when it comes to the weathered, greyer versions of nature. “While blue is also a color of nature, it is inherently cold because it is the color of ice and northern light.
Light Sea Green.
I love the look of light sea green in an artistic form or interesting silhouette, because therein lies the beauty of this nature-reflective color. The light bounces off light sea green accessories and accent pieces in different ways, giving depth to the objects themselves similar to the way sunlight highlights the depth of the sea itself.
Woah, I know what you’re thinking. This shade of “aqua” doesn’t really resemble any of the others, so can we even believe it belongs here? The answer I give you comes in the form of a question: Can you see both blue and green in the upholstery of these two gorgeous midnight green pieces? Because I can, and they are so intermingled that, really, they couldn’t belong to any family other than aqua. Aqua colored velvet, in any tint or shade, has to be one of the more sophisticated, luxurious textiles in the world.
Look at the light blue mounted (faux) deer head on this wall, and you’ll see a color quite similar to Crayola’s version of “sky blue.” Sky blue has a pinch of green in its color lineage, although whether it’s noticeable or not is largely dependent on its surroundings.
Teal had its heyday in the 1990s, and while its overabundance burned out as a popular interior design choice, it remains an attractive color choice today. Perhaps this is because the soft greeny-blue color works so well with a variety of colors – it diffuses the acidity of chartreuse and softens the sterility of cool greys.
Verdigris is the common name for the natural patina formed when metals such as copper, brass, or bronze are weathered and exposed to air and/or saltwater over time. The color is vivid and striking and plays an excellent counterpoint color along with (or against) other metallic or rich, warm tones.