Behind the Colour: Sloe Blue

Written on 16th November 2021

Walls and Trim: Sloe Blue No.87 in Estate Emulsion and Estate Eggshell | Design: Emilie Munroe; Photographer: Stephen Karlisch



Name and number: Sloe Blue No.87

Primer & Undercoat: Dark Tones

Complementary White: Shaded White


Like previous Behind the Colour stars Clunch and Suffield Green, the story of Sloe Blue had already been in motion for centuries before joining our palette.

This blackened shade of blue takes its name – and its distinctive hue – from the patina on sloe berries, the inky-dark fruit of the blackthorn. These hedgerow jewels have been a familiar sight across Europe for millennia. In fact, excavations of Anglo-Saxon sites at Coppergate in York and Abbot’s Worthy in Hampshire have shown evidence of sloes in ancient diets, and the picked fruit was even found near the remains of famous 5000-year-old mummy Ötzi when he was discovered in 1991.

Walls: Sloe Blue No.87 and Clunch No.2009 in Modern Emulsion

Walls: Sloe Blue No.87 in Estate Emulsion, Ceiling: Strong White No.2001 in Estate Emulsion

Not just a favourite of our forebears, sloes still appear in many kitchen cupboards across the UK in the form of a dark, richly coloured gin. In France, the sloe-based spirit eau de vie de prunelle is made and enjoyed in regions such as the Alsace – as well as being a favourite of fictional detective Maigret.

Despite being best known today for its affinity with a good tonic water, the blackthorn has had many uses throughout history. Its wood was used for walking sticks, its gum for ink, and its fruits pickled or made into jams and chutneys, with their juice saved to serve as a fabric dye.



Like the shrub that inspired it, our own Sloe Blue is a versatile thing indeed. As well as working wonders on walls and ceilings, it really shines as a woodwork shade.

Try it on a front door for the most inviting of entryways, to add character to wooden dining chairs (as our previous colour consultee Cathy Chivers has done in her famous chalet), or on all the trim in a room with Oval Room Blue walls and Potted Shrimp accents.

Paired with a darker neutral like Drop Cloth, Sloe Blue also makes an excellent feature or accent wall. For a cosy living room, go for Drop Cloth on walls, with Sloe Blue on a chimney breast or alcove, and Inchyra Blue on a statement piece of furniture.

Try This at Home

Order a sample pot of any colour on this page with free home delivery.


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