Nature remains the rave.
The Earth seems to be on everyone's minds -- and the colors expected to be popular in home decor next year prove it.
"The No. 1 influence is sustainability, the whole environment issue, which is a long-term issue," said Jack Bredenfoerder, president of the Color Marketing Group, an association of color professionals.
Paint and color-marketing companies recently released their forecasts for 2008, and tones inspired by nature continue to be hot: earthy greens, silvers and grays, citrus yellows and oranges, and orchid like purples.
"We are seeking balance, sanctuary and calm from external stress and pressure, which is sometimes achieved by returning to nature," said Aimee Desrosiers, a color expert for California Paints. Cool grays and silvers -- some reminiscent of snow-capped mountains -- are on the upswing.
"What's new is they are taking on a cooler tint, a little inspired by the ice," Bredenfoerder said. "With global warming, it seems to be a real issue."
Although they could be cold and sterile, the icy grays have a hint of blue, giving them warmth and a soothing feel.
Kellie Toole has noticed the trend toward bluish grays and silvers, too. "It hasn't quite hit yet, but it was big at (the International Home Furnishings) Market. It's more of a French blue or a spa blue," she said.
The grays, which once were inflected with a touch of earthy brown, now have slight shades of cool blue.
The shades were popular on fashion runways two years ago and now are trickling down to home decor, following the usual progression.
Other colors expected to surge to the fore are "organic mixtures of yellow and green." Also predicted to gain favor are cool stony grays and gray browns, she said.
In particular, two California Paints colors, Pretty Shady (a grayish green) and Papaya (a fruity orange) reflect "soothing colors of nature."
"Look for a tremendous use of natural materials and colors, decorating with stones, metals, woods, glass, plant materials and colors that are complex and natural," she said.
Likewise, Benjamin Moore's sample paints for the 2008 color trends show lots of earthy tones. One of the top three accent colors is Split Pea, a brownish-green shade that, predictably, looks like a smashed pea.
The company has separated its colors into three themes: Modern Tranquility, a selection of neutral and light grays, beiges and warm whites; Organic Comforts, dominated by earthy greens, yellows and reds; and Pure Opulence, with more vibrant yet still nature- inspired hues of brown, red brick, teal and violet.
"Strong, bright neon colors have gone by the wayside. We're toning them down so you can live with them longer. It's the evolution of color," Horn said.
One specific prediction: Red will be on the rise, thanks to the 2008 Olympics taking place in Beijing, which flies the red flag of China. Also, red fits with the continuing popularity of Asian-influenced design. Citrus oranges also will be popular, Toole said.
"We're not seeing huge changes, just some shifts in colors. Orange is still hugely popular, but it's getting to a darker coral," Thompson said.
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