Color represents a personal preference. Yet, ever since Pantone started picking a favorite annual hue, manufacturers in different industries have tried to sway consumers with their new choices. (Editor’s Note: Pantone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated, is the world-renowned authority on color and provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. The PANTONE® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer. See: https://www.pantone.com/) The paint industry is no different.
After years of grays, creams, and whites being the go-to choices, consumers are being told about the advantages—whether for a home or investment property—of deep saturated jewel tones, from Pantone’s Ultra Violet purple to Sherwin-Williams’ Oceanside SW 6496 blue, Benjamin Moore’s Caliente AF-290 red, and Dunn-Edwards’ The Green Hour. And there are also other vibrant shades that may not be a manufacturer’s “color of the year,” yet they provide a similar sense of boldness.
Why now. Not surprisingly, the designers and experts working with paint manufacturers we queried have varying opinions. Designer Kristie Barnett, founder of The Decorologist and a staging and color expert in Nashville, believes this recent surge of interest in deep color is a backlash against so much gray and white. “2017 was the year of whites, so paint companies are trying to push a different color direction,” she says. Andrea Magno, a color and design expert with manufacturer Benjamin Moore, thinks the reason is that many want to brighten interiors through saturated yet easy-to-live-with hues. She also thinks they pair well with neutrals, making it possible to bring them into interiors without undertaking a complete overhaul. Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for manufacturer Sherwin-Williams, adds a slightly different take: “Oceanside is inspired by wanderlust. People today have a growing sense of adventure, and it is making its way into even the coziest corners of our homes. We are craving deep and dimensional colors that remind us of bright folklore.” For Sara McLean, a color expert and stylist for Dunn-Edwards Paints, the change is part of a larger trend that reflects a return to detailing and layers in design. “Homes are being designed with the idea of showing your personal style and story,” she says. Color expert Amy Wax, owner of the Color911 app and blog, also agrees that the new boldness is part of a bigger trend, evidenced as well in bolder colors and geometric patterns in wallpaper choices.
How much boldness to showcase? Whether you go for bold in one room or throughout a home for your own domicile or an investment property is a personal decision that may reflect any number of factors. It may reveal how much you like that hue to a comfort level with such boldness daily or even how it may impact resale. Someone who’s color-confident may use Benjamin Moore’s Caliente red on all four walls of a bathroom or study to fashion a warm atmosphere, Magno says. But for someone who isn’t gung-ho “red-ready” but likes it, it may be a better accent. Perhaps they may choose to use it on the inside of a door or window frame. Wadden of Sherwin-Williams, suggests her company’s Oceanside as a bold, welcoming statement on a front door or as a calming effect in a reading nook or bedroom. Barnett takes a different position and is among those who think purple, at least, falls into a different category since it tends to evoke strong reactions. “Purple is actually the third favorite color of women while it is actually one of men’s most hated,” she says.
The best ways to introduce these colors. Magno favors making them a focal point in the color choice for a fireplace mantle or the back walls of a built-in bookcase since the deep uses will draw attention to the accessories arranged there. Those who become more confident may graduate to painting doors to a room, window trim, wainscoting or hallways in the saturated choice. Jenny Hulsey, a designer for SR Homes, a new home construction company in Cummings, Ga., also sees the use of strong hues more as an accent—maybe, on an island, an accent wall in a butler’s pantry or on a backsplash, all of which can add character. Deep saturated colors but those that are less intense—in the blue and green-families—may be easier to live with in an entire room such as a den or office, McLean says. “These colors are relaxing enough to allow for quiet time spent working without overwhelming the senses with bright color or being boring with a basic neutral base carried from the main area of the home,” she says.
Colors to pair with the bold hues. The choice of color for a ceiling or trim can make a difference in diffusing some of the intensity and offering a calming influence, experts say. Magno of Benjamin Moore recommends using contrasting neutrals such as her company’s White Opulence OC 69, Silver Marlin 2139-50 or Wolf Gray 2127-40. Color expert Wax has paired Benjamin Moore’s Burnt Peanut Red 2081-10 with its White Dove for a fresh twist on a classic combination. Interior designer Amanda Hart with Robb & Stucky’s interior design and furnishings store in Boca Raton, Fla., suggests a range of choices from sophisticated neutrals or “non-colors” like gray-pinks, gray-blues, pale grays, blues, and creams, as well as warm metallic coppers and golds.
Whether the setting and architecture should influence the choice. Hart thinks yes. The environment and exterior are best when in harmony and resonate with the inside, she says. One solution may be to choose colorful mosaics that reflect outside colors when decorating an interior wall as an accent. Those same colors can also be repeated in artwork, furnishings and accessories for some repetition and sense of cohesiveness, important in any design. At the same time, Hart recommends making choices that can be easily changed if any start to look outdated.
When it comes to selling. The idea of resale may give some pause since some buyers can’t imagine living in a room with too much intense color. Veering toward moderation may be the better route then—possibly utilizing only small doses in main rooms and reserving larger dollops for smaller or private spaces such as an office or powder room, Magno says. This is why Lisa Giles, co-owner and interior design director at Haven Design Works in Atlanta, whose firm works with home builders such as FrontDoor Communities, a leading Southeast home builder based in Atlanta that also builds in Charleston and Naples, favors neutral backgrounds but inserts some boldness to spark energy and vitality. Two good places according to Giles are above a chair rail and around a window frame.
Barnett goes a step further and cautions about the use of a red or purple if selling—purple because so many men dislike it and red because it photographs poorly and may hurt listing photos. She prefers neutrals, or more neutral deep blues and greens, which are more commonplace in nature and therefore more pleasing to a larger cohort. They rarely provoke the kind of polarizing reactions, she says.
But there are also always naysayers. McLean thinks some dark colors like deeper greens, golden yellows, deep browns and dark blues are “homey” and calming. Adding darker color, even if just a powder room or guest room, can personalize a space without going too far, she says.
In the end, it’s probably best to remember Barnett’s observation that color trends in home and décor do not change as quickly as yearly color trends of the year do. “Paint color and décor trends typically last for five to 10 years. Choose your favorite colors,” she says. If it’s a red, blue or even purple, go with it, but be aware of the potential risks before selling.