Behind the Colour: Stiffkey Blue

Written on 26th May 2022

Walls: Stiffkey Blue No.281; Trim: Shaded White No.201



Name and number: Stiffkey Blue No.281

Primer & Undercoat: Dark Tones

Complementary White: Shadow White


If there’s one thing you need to know about Stiffkey Blue, it’s this: it’s not pronounced the way you think (unless you happen to be from Norfolk, in which case you can probably skip this bit).

Rather than a stiff-key, like the kind you’d use on a troublesome lock, it’s a stoo-key or a stew-key, depending on who you ask. It takes its name from a scenic coastal village in north Norfolk and, crucially, its adjacent beach.

It was about this beach that our colour hunters discovered something quite remarkable – its mud has a distinctive navy-blue hue. It even stains the cockles that live in it, giving them their nickname of “stewkey blues”. It’s this quirk of the landscape that gave us the inspiration for one of our best-selling shades.


A Stiffkey Blue feature wall is always a popular option, but it can be difficult to know how to create a balanced look. Patrick O’Donnell has one simple trick that never fails him in this scenario.

“When you have a dark feature wall, it can be tempting to default to white on the other walls,” he says. “But a paler complementary tone, such as the pale blue Skylight, is well worth considering. It creates a softer contrast, feels more deliberate, and looks fantastic.”

You can also try the same principle with tones from our Easy Neutrals group, such as Cornforth White and Purbeck Stone. Neither warm nor cool, this group of neutrals is a versatile option for any room with any aspect.

Finally, to add a little more colour, you could try an analogous colour scheme – taking inspiration from the colours that sit immediately beside blue in the colour wheel. In this case, we’ve plumped for purple. Each with a little grey to them, Calluna and Brassica are subtle but clearly considered choices to sit alongside this classic navy.


One of the best ways to find colour inspiration is through your fellow décor lovers. See how our social media followers have used Stiffkey Blue in their own homes, below.

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