Color Coordinated

By Linda Pescatore

January 4, 2008 5 min read


Forecasters choose this year's trendiest shades

By Linda Pescatore

Copley News Service

It's a new year. Could it be time for a new look?

"Can you imagine if you went into Pottery Barn and, year after year after year, they showed the same look and the same colors all the time? There wouldn't be much to look at," says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of "More Alive With Color."

It's the same with your home. Even if you decorated just last year, it's smart to continually refresh your space - not to follow fads slavishly, but to feel renewed instead of tired when looking at your surroundings.

Whether you're furnishing an empty estate or just want to update pillows and place mats, you can benefit from the guidance of professional color forecasters who annually create "palettes" or groupings of the hottest coordinated shades. Pick any or all the colors in a palette and you'll be assured of a match. Rooms that draw from the same palette in different ways can evoke distinct moods without jarring transitions as you traverse your home. (Feel free to break the rules, though, especially when designing rooms for kids, Eiseman advises.)

Retailers and manufacturers pay close attention to these forecasts, so chances are these are the color schemes you'll find in stores all year.

Eiseman continually examines what interests and influences people to determine the biggest trends for the coming years, each of which translates into colors. She narrows the infinite range of the rainbow down to eight palettes of eight or nine hues each, including neutrals, designed to spark the imagination of a wide variety of people.

"There's eight kinds of mind-sets, and some people will look at one and say, 'I get that,'" she says.

With the Olympics being held in Beijing this year, Eiseman sees China as an obvious source of inspiration, although the soft tones in her Chinoiserie palette may not be as obvious. That color scheme was drawn from delicate porcelain, ceramics, paintings and silks.

"I don't want to do the mundane, stereotypical 'It's China, therefore it must be mandarin red and imperial yellow,' because in truth how many people really do use those strong, strong colors in their home, unless they're doing it as accents?" Eiseman says. "I look at it from the standpoint of what really is usable and believable within the context of the home."

Her other palettes are ReCollections, a warm, traditional color scheme; High Profile, a punchy collection for contemporary decor; Ethnic Chic, lively colors and rich contrasts; Agrestic, rustic yet sophisticated shades; Wellspring, the colors of sand and sea; Savories, vibrant spiciness and flavor; and Nuances, soft neutral tones.

Another spin on the direction 2008 will take comes from paint company Benjamin Moore's annual color trends report. Their 21 picks are divided into three categories - the ethereal Modern Tranquillity, earthy Organic Comforts and striking Pure Opulence - that the company says can be mixed and matched, even across palettes. Benjamin Moore also predicts three of those colors will be the hottest of the year: Peacock Feathers, Split Pea and Gypsy Pink.

Naturally, each color forecaster reaches unique conclusions, but there's a surprising amount of overlap - this year, particularly in watery blues, soft neutrals, jewel tones and plenty of green.

"There is often a common thread," says Christine Chow, associate director of The Color Association of the United States, which produces its own list of 44 trendy shades. "When all you do is follow trends and design, you do tend to come to the same sort of conclusion."

And if you fear you'll be stuck with a color that's trendy but transitive - tomorrow's harvest gold or avocado green - worry not. No single color goes out of style.

"It's not the color itself, but it's the way it's put together," Eiseman says. "Today you are seeing different mixtures of color, and that's where the freshness comes."

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