Shades of Blue

Nature’s mad display of brilliant blues inspires Master Designer Perla Lichi

By John D. Adams

On a professional color wheel, blue is labeled a “cool” color.  But in truth, blue is the warmest color. Contradiction? Maybe not. What images came to immediate mind when you read the word “blue?” Almost universally, and depending upon locale, we likely conjure blue skies, blue seas, blue birds… beautiful, serene imagery that triggers sense memories of salt airs, tropical breezes, lyrical birdsong. So I say again blue is the warmest color. And that is just the kind of juxtaposition Master Interior Designer Perla Lichi delights in exploring.

“Everyone loves blue,” enthused Perla, arms outstretched, head craning up and around the magnificent, Moroccan-style atrium pictured here. “Depending on the exact shade, it can be masculine, feminine, young or old. In color theory, the color BLUE is said to have a very calming effect.”

Blue Skies…
… Smilin’ at me… And so is Perla. Positioned in the center of this Miami businessman’s spectacular atrium, amid so much opulence and beauty, one’s gaze is still inextricably drawn upward, two stories, to a grand skylight. The azure sky explodes forth like a giant sapphire amid a gleaming, platinum setting. “This is the center, the heart, of this castle, and where the owners and their guests most often gather,” remarked Perla. “We added a gurgling fountain to provide a calming, background ambiance. The huge skylight bathes seating enclaves with brilliance. The entire space is enclosed in glass and lined with Roman columns and loggias.”

Blue tones were cleverly sprinkled throughout the space. “Blue is one of the traditional colors used with the azulejos [Moroccan style tile] that provide accents in the theme of this atrium.”

By The Sea
Every few years the interior design industry reimagines some version of a “coastal” theme. We have seen everything from the homages of quaint, “shabby-chic” to the disciplined lines of West Coast modernity. As always, Perla is ready to revise and energize this tropical design staple with a sensibility toward the calming effects that cool blue colors invite. “Blue is a very easy color to live with; it is a very peaceful and soothing color.  Blues are easier on the eyes. Tranquil. More calming.”

Nothing is uniform in nature. And Perla pays great attention to this fact through a variety of bluish shades and a mélange of textures from silk to wool. “I chose lighter and darker shades to emphasize the serenity of different shades of water and how light plays across a brilliant, blue sky. We then mixed those with accessories and artwork. Those blues with shades of tan and sand, along with other natural elements, are reminiscent of what you would see along the coast.”

The Blue Hour
When redesigning and remodeling an 11,000 square-foot home in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Dubai, Perla again chose to incorporate blues into her project. For grand desert homes like this, most designers would follow a standard “sky blue” palette. Of course, Perla decided to celebrate a more esoteric theme.

There are two times of day that photographers and other visual artists refer to as the “blue hours.” These are the periods of twilight early in the dawn and late at dusk. There is a point where the sun is at such a difference with the horizon when a unique, silver-blue hue fleetingly overtakes the skies. And this is the palette Perla chose to explore for this grand remodel. Not shown here are the impressive dual aquariums, used in lieu of walls to divide the foyer from the home’s living and dining rooms. “The water and light that streams through really establishes the ‘magic hour’ blue that resonates throughout the interiors of this home,” said Perla.

The design concept was to create a sophisticated, contemporary look using a fusion of classic colors with chic modern lines.  Custom ceilings are adorned with silver leafing and then enhanced with special lighting effects to emphasize that twilight time of day or night. “We worked closely with our clients throughout the remodel and they were extremely pleased with the total coordination of the interiors,” remarked Perla, “through the contemporary style, the woodwork, and especially their love for the color palette of ‘magic hour’ blues and silvers.”

Throughout these projects, as with them all, Perla takes time to reflect on what particular colors and themes mean to her. “Blue to me means serenity, peaceful, fresh, calm … Different shades of blue represent different moods. A soft pastel blue creates a very calming mood. Go into deeper blue, and it becomes more mysterious, creating a regal, dramatic ambiance.  And I always say ‘go for the drama!’”

The jacket cover of Perla’s new book, by the way, “Interior Design Inspirations From Cottages To Castles,” features the two-story blue-and-white atrium described at the beginning of this story.

Learn more about Perla Lichi online at

Shades of Blue