Wildcat fans usually aren't shy when it comes to flying the school colors on days like Saturday, when the University of Kentucky and Louisville are in the Final Four. But it's easy and even fashionable to keep blue and white in our homes year-round.
And while there are fans who are content with wall-to-wall Big Blue posters, foam fingers and plastic chip bowls, design experts tell us there are more ways to show your team spirit, including stylish paints, furniture and accents.
According to the UK Web site, the school adopted blue and white as its official colors in 1892. The special shade of royal blue is Pantone No. 286. Pantone is a company that predicts trends in color for design industries.
Fans often bring in their Kentucky keepsakes when looking for the perfect paint to match this special hue, says Bobbi Ramsay, owner of Superior Paint & Decorating, 2551 Regency Road, Lexington.
"A lot of times they'll bring in a jersey or T-shirts," she said. "Or they just think we'll just know the color."
Ramsay, who sells Benjamin Moore products, uses the store's computerized color selector to find the top five matches for the items. The closest match, she said, is the company's Dark Royal Blue, which includes elements of blue, green, magenta and white.
Men tend to lead the pack when it comes to UK-inspired rooms, say Lexington interior designers Sheila Hancock and Lauren West, owners of The Great Dames, a decorating and design center at 925 Liberty Road in Lexington. The two work with homeowners on everything from paint colors to trim for lamp shades.
"Generally it seems to be basements, man caves," said Hancock. "We generally don't see it flowing out, very seldom, into real public areas."
But, they add, there are plenty of stylishly subtle ways to add Kentucky flavor to a room. "Blue is a very hot color right now, it really is," said West. "In all of the home décor magazines you see a lot of different shades."
"Blue went out for a while," added Hancock, "but it definitely made a resurgence recently."
Patterns can include stripes, florals and exotic ikats, another big trend. Lexington-based Pomegranate, a textile company, offers place mats, napkins and tablecloths from the University of Kentucky Plaid Collection developed by UK students and staff (UKplaid.com).
While painting walls is one option, blue-themed rooms created by Hancock and West have included painted furniture, such as a bed and even upholstered headboards accented with metal nailheads. Wallpaper is another popular choice; a recent bathroom for a client featured a grass cloth with a blueish tint.
Pillows are another easy option for adding color to a room. You can break away from solids and choose fun patterns like the classic blue-and-white Marimekko graphic styles created in the 1950s but now available at Crate and Barrel.
For more inspirational blues, look to the sea, said West. "Ralph Lauren has a lot of the nautical" look, she said. Think of crisp blues accented with golds and whites. Incorporate objects such as ceramic vases or lamps and shiny metal accents. To add texture to a room, choose woven straw rugs or baskets for storage.
If you go big with blue in your décor now, you won't have to worry about turning up the hue next March.