Earth. Environment. “Green.” Organic. Health-conscious. The most recent buzzwords being tossed about have significant, far-reaching trends behind them. These nature-friendly concepts are working their way into how people live, work, eat, drive, dispose and, yes, design their homes.
“The biggest driver of color trends in 2007 – and beyond – is the mainstreaming of environmentalism,” notes the Color Marketing Group (CMG) in Alexandria, VA. “With all of the news about global warming, the dramatic changes in weather patterns and the rising cost of energy, the environment is no longer just the concern of a small segment of the population. People everywhere are newly conscious of our relationship to nature and our surroundings, and that consciousness is reflected in the newest color trends.”
Earth-toned neutrals have experienced highs and lows in popularity for decades in various incarnations, but the newest crop of nature-inspired hues for the home has a different look.
“These neutrals are not your mother’s beige,” comments CMG. “They are strong colors, reflecting the depth and power of the nature that surrounds us.”
Richer tones and more complex and mixed colors have raised the color bar, maintaining a natural influence while introducing a new depth. “Neutral is shifting,” asserts Ginguei Ebnesajjad, director of style and color development, DuPont Surfaces, in Wilmington, DE. “It’s a rich neutral, but it’s clean and, for the most part, it’s still warm.”
“Today’s neutral palettes are sophisticated,” notes Sherwin-Williams. “Warm tones blend with cool, and natural materials add texture, depth and character.”
The new natural neutrals – especially medium to dark browns, are “soul-satisfying,” according to CMG. For 2007 and beyond, beiges, browns and tans will be more earthy and grounded.
“These neutrals are browns and tans and grays that are gutsy – the colors of earth, stone and rock,” offers CMG.
The browns and warm neutrals being used today are “wonderful, organic colors,” notes Melanie Wood, CMG, color and design consultant, Melanie Wood Designs, Inc., in Knoxville, TN. “They’re colors that bring authenticity. They’re connected to nature.”
Deep, rich browns reflect the hues of deep, roasted coffee, while the softer, warmer browns are gauged by authentic materials, such as leathers, exotic woods and burnished metals, she adds.
“Some of the browns have influences of red and purple in them, as well,” she continues. “It’s a blend of richness and nature’s essences.”
Deep browns with a purple or eggplant highlight are especially popular in the bath cabinetry right now, note many designers. It gives the wood a richer finish and a more interesting tone than the more neutral dark brown.
Purple is also influencing some of the lighter tones of brown in the home. “We’re seeing very earthy, heritage browns, often with a bit of a Victorian flavor with a purpled brown,” notes Margaret Walch, director, The Color Association of the U.S. (CAUS).
While “green design” is a term gaining momentum with regard to the use of earth-friendly and environmentally sound products when creating a space, using the color green to add interest to a room is also a popular choice.
According to CMG, greens are right on trend, and are distinctly botanical. “The idea of ‘green’ means the color green, too,” the group states. “But, look for softer, more botanical greens inspired by nature.”
“Soft botanical greens are working with the natural tones that are coming in right now, and with the warmer browns,” stresses Wood. For the future, she sees richer, deeper spruce greens being added to the palette.
“Green is becoming neutral,” notes Doty Horn, director of color and design, Benjamin Moore & Co., in Montvale, NJ. “No matter where you put green in the house, it acts as a background gray.” While she notes this trend started in the 1990s, “in this decade, green has become the newest neutral.”