All You Need to Know About the Color Indigo in Home Design

All You Need to Know About the Color Indigo in Home Design

Interior Design
Decoration and Design
By Dikran Seferian July 31, 2022

Squeezed between the colors blue and violet in the rainbow, the indigo color is a natural pigment coming from the Indigofera tinctoria plant (commonly known as true indigo). Traditionally, it is known to be among the seven main spectral colors. With many, however, that’s where the knowledge of this color stops. For instance, did you know that indigo’s hex code is #4B0082? You may also learn that it promotes wisdom and creativity according to Feng Shui.

Now, what is indigo? To have a better understanding of this rich color, let’s first start by taking a sneak peek at its history.

History of the Color Indigo

The Indigofera tinctoria plant is used in the production of indigo dye.

The Indigofera tinctoria plant is used in the production of indigo dye.

The term indigo comes from a type of plant that was discovered in the Indus Valley almost 5,000 years ago. People started making dye out of the plant by the 7th century BCE. Mesopotamians even used to carve out recipes on how to make indigo dye. By the late 13th century AD, Venetian merchant travelers introduced the dye to Europe. The demand for indigo dye increased across Europe and America by the 17th century AD.

The late 1700s saw an interesting shift in the history of indigo. British demand started to fade around the same time when America’s war for independence broke out in 1775. However, the British resumed trading indigo by producing the dye in India — unfortunately resulting in the exploitation of Indian workers. This maltreatment eventually led to riots around the mid-19th century. Mahatma Gandhi’s first act of peaceful protest backed the indigo workers, and he even went on to defend their rights in court.

In America, the hype around the color indigo flourished as people began making work shorts with indigo collars. This is because dirt and stains were less visible on indigo than on white collars. In the late 19th century, Levis Straus and Jacob Lewis made use of indigo to produce their well-known denim jeans in San Francisco.

The 1600s saw a rise in demand for indigo dye throughout Europe and America.

The 1600s saw a rise in demand for indigo dye throughout Europe and America.

Indigo in the Rainbow

Do you remember learning about ROY-G-BIV in elementary school? It’s the acronym we use when referring to the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. You may now notice that indigo is no longer part of those colors. But why was it there initially? It is believed that Sir Isaac Newton decided to include the indigo color in the rainbow for nonscientific reasons.

When Newton was experimenting with prisms in the mid-17th century AD, he studied the way light passes through them at various angles to create different colors. The seven colors he saw were those of the rainbow. Whether he actually saw indigo, however, remains a mystery.

Many believe that Newton only spotted six colors but chose to include one more so that it becomes a total of seven. Spiritually, the number seven held a great deal of significance — seven days, seven seas, seven musical notes, seven planets (at the time), and so on. As such, he supposedly picked indigo to be the seventh color. The fact the dye was newly introduced from the Indies at the time may have played into his decision.

Did Sir Isaac Newton really see indigo in the spectral colors?

Did Sir Isaac Newton really see indigo in the spectral colors?

What Is Special About the Color Indigo?

The indigo color is rich in both its aesthetic value and its meaning. It can symbolize both mysteries as well as spirituality. Indigo is additionally known to be the color of wisdom, justice, devotion, dignity, and creativity. It also plays a major role in different cultures and ceremonies such as the exuberant Holi festival.

Indigo blue colors evoke a sense of calm and can therefore be ideal for rooms that you typically go for to kick back and relax. These can include bedrooms, living rooms, and maybe even guest rooms. And since indigo isn’t a visually overwhelming tone — almost seeming as though it’s receding — it can be a clever choice for small spaces. For a lasting impression, aim for indigo as an entryway wall color

What Is the True Color of Indigo

We visited its history and learned about its cultural significance, but the question remains: what color is indigo? Indigo is known as a secondary color on the color wheel. It is a rich and elegant shade created by combining the primary colors red and blue. Considering that indigo is a mixed color, it can have a range of different shades. This can often result in confusion over what the actual color is supposed to be. Many, for instance, may confuse indigo and violet. But one thing is for sure: it’s somewhere between blue and purple — which begs the next question.

Is Indigo Closer to Blue or Purple?

Considering the various shades of indigo, it can be easy to confuse whether the color is closer to blue or purple. Since it sits between blue and violet on the color wheel, however, it can be perceived as a combination of both. But considering that violet falls between blue and purple, indigo is technically closer to blue than purple. Bear in mind that the order is blue, indigo, violet, then purple.

While certain shades of the indigo color are considered to be blue with slight notes of violet, others may lean closer to purple. In other words, it all depends on the exact shade. 

How Do You Get the Color Indigo?

Producing the color indigo is rather easy. The primary colors that you’d mix to get indigo are red and blue, the latter being the dominant hue in the combination. The precise equation to make indigo is two-thirds blue and one-third red.

Mixing two-thirds blue and one-third red will result in the color indigo.

Mixing two-thirds blue and one-third red will result in the color indigo.

What Colors Go Well With Indigo?

Suppose you’re designing a room using the color indigo and wondering what shades correspond with it the most. Maybe bedroom wall art with an indigo theme as the final touch to a modern setting? Exploring the different possible color schemes can help you pick the one that best reflects your sensibilities. 

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are essentially two different hues that fall on the opposite parts of the color wheel. Indigo, for instance, is complementary to the color Siren — a deep shade of red.

Split Complementary Colors

While a complementary scheme is composed of two colors, a split complementary scheme consists of three. Indigo’s split complementary colors are anakiwa (a light shade of turquoise) and blueberry. 

Triadic Colors

Triadic schemes are variations of the split complementary combination where the hues are equally spaced on the color wheel. Together with indigo, the triadic palette consists of the colors cinnamon and tropical rainforest (a shade of green). 

Tetradic Colors

Tetradic color combinations consist of four hues that are equidistant on the color wheel. The tetradic palette with the indigo color contains cinnamon, navy blue, and Japanese laurel (similar to olive green). 

Analogous Colors

Analogous color schemes are composed of three or more colors that fall beside each other on the color wheel. Indigo’s analogous hues include blueberry and pixie powder (similar to the color indigo itself). 

How to Implement Indigo in Interior Design

Indigo tones can promote a calm and reposeful aesthetic, making the color perfect for bedrooms.

Indigo tones can promote a calm and reposeful aesthetic, making the color perfect for bedrooms.

The timeless appeal of indigo makes it a great choice to use in the color palette of interior space. When paired with white trim, for instance, it can form a rather elegant backdrop to a beautiful living room. You can also throw in some bright yellow accents for a “pop art” aesthetic.

A place that can very much welcome the color indigo is the kitchen. Keep in mind that the right kitchen colors can transform the room from something solely utilitarian to a truly uplifting space. Consider dressing your kitchen cabinets in this color for a charming aesthetic, teaming it with white accents throughout the space.

But incorporating indigo into your home decor doesn’t necessarily have to be through paint colors. You can also go for indigo throw pillows to elevate a neutral-colored couch or add visual interest to your windows with patterned indigo blinds.

The benefits of this color extend beyond the visual aspect. Indigo is also known to have a positive impact on our moods as well. Studies have shown that students who were exposed to indigo before taking an exam received higher grades. That being said, indigo can also be an ideal choice for a Feng Shui color scheme in a bedroom, home office, or any living space that a student usually studies or does homework in.


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian