Color is one of the most powerful weapons in any home improvement arsenal. Painting a white wall blue or replacing your tan pillows and throws with green ones is a simple and affordable way to change the look of a room.
Each year the color professionals — interior designers and paint company representatives — make their predications for what colors will resonate most with homeowners.
This year is going to be about two opposite approaches to color, according to those experts — those looking for a Zen-like home full of natural colors and textures and those looking to make a statement with contrasting hues that make you stop and take notice.
The latter is about stark contrasts — like the black and white palettes that have been popular in fashion during the past season. Adding bright accents of saturated colors such as fuchsia and blue to an otherwise neutral palette will add interest to rooms this year.
Homeowners have become more “color confident” over the last decade and are no longer shying away from such statements, says Debbie Zimmer, color and decorating expert for the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute and member of the Color Marketing Group, due in most part to the popularity of home improvement television.
Such shows have “visualized for a lot of people the impact color can have on a space,” she says. “People have been educated about color and inspired to try some of these paints in their own space.”
As homeowners become more comfortable with color, they’ll also experiment with using it in unusual spaces, she says.
“People look at the ceiling as the fifth wall and paint it an unexpected color,” she says, adding, “I think the powder room is a great place to try something more bold.”
While some will be looking to make a statement that screams color, others will gravitate toward hues that whisper comfort.
Doty Horn, director of color and design for Benjamin Moore, says many of the trends reflected in color will focus on nature.
“The whole eco thing has gone mainstream,” says Horn. New paints and predicted frontrunners by other paint companies support her claim. One of the “hot colors” by Behr is called aAsparagus. Pratt & Lambert is predicting that its palette, Inspired Organics, will resonate with homeowners with a color grouping that includes hues such as Koala and Anamite — both shades of tan — and Misty Moors, a deep gray blue.
“People want to get away from the technical and the ever- changing,” says Horn. “They want to escape to their homes. The colors are back to nature, human-oriented.
“The same thing happened at the beginning of last century. You had this change to automation, and the result was the arts and crafts movement.”
Zimmer agrees that a move “back to nature” will be popular in color choices. She says that the sheen as well as the hue of paint will be part of this look. For example, the translucent glass tiles that are popular for bathrooms and kitchens will coordinate well with paint that has a glossier sheen.
“When you talk about sheen now,” she says, “it’s not just from a durability standpoint.” Zimmer says brown tones will continue to be popular, and shades of blue and green that can be found in natural elements — such as leaves and water — will be seen as part of this trend. “If you paint the room and it’s not the color you envisioned, you can change it pretty easy with relatively little expense,” says Zimmer. “At the end of the day, color and color use is a very personal decision.”
Try colors without lifting a brush
Color can change the perceived dimensions of a room, coordinate one space with another or separate a space from another. It can also create an emotional reaction to a room, calming or energizing the people in it based on the hue.
“Consumers paint the interior of their home as a way to personalize it,” says Debbie Zimmer, color and decorating expert for the Rohm and Haas Paint Quality Institute. “The first question they think of when they think of paint is, ‘What color am I going to paint?’ ”
To help homeowners choose the perfect shade for their next project, most paint companies offer different interactive tools. Here are some options you can try for your next home makeover:
- Behr’s Color Smart program allows homeowners to look through a collection of palettes to get ideas. Homeowners can preview coordinated colors in a simulated environment at their home computers or in stores, as well as calculate how much paint they need and select the right sheen for their project. In Home Depot stores, homeowners can use Behr’s color match technology, allowing them to scan in a color they’ve selected (even if it’s from another company or from a fabric or wallpaper swatch) and find matching and coordinating Behr paints.
- Pratt and Lambert’s Color Visualizer allows you to “try out” paint colors from their collection by clicking on the color swatch and then on the area of a room you want to paint. You choose from a collection of rooms already on the Web site and then choose the colors you like. Once you come up with a combination, you can print out a report to take to your paint store or order samples of the colors to try out at home.
- Benjamin Moore’s Color Palette Makeover allows you to upload photos of your rooms and see what their colors will look like on your walls. It costs $40, but may save you time and money. A team of professional designers will take a look at what you’re working with and make suggestions on the colors.