Home & Garden

Taking a realistic approach to the latest-greatest color trend

If the sighting of an oh-so-’80s set of mauve hand towels in your linen closet inspires a sweet wave of nostalgia, designers say you’re in luck this year because blush tones are back. Specifically, pale pinks and lavenders are appearing in fashion and upholstery palettes, a direct result of Pantone Color Institute’s unveiling of “radiant orchid” as the 2014 color of the year.

But what do the vivid color trends heralded in home-decor circles signify when it comes to choosing accents for those sedate taupe walls and brown leather couches of our neutral comfort zones? Local designers take a mixed view of color trend pronouncements.

“I can’t imagine too many people using the radiant orchid as the sole wall color, especially here in our area,” said Robin Burrill, CEO of Curb Appeal Renovations Inc. and president-elect of the American Society of Interior Designers Texas Chapter. “However, I can see it as an accent color. Pillows paired with browns or the very popular gray would be stunning.”

Deborah Reed, another Fort Worth-based interior designer and an ASID member, welcomes the return of the blush, in whatever form that takes.

“Soft pinks and pale pinky peaches are some of the most popular colors I’ve worked with in 30-plus years of design work, and I’m regularly asked for those colors now,” she said. “… Blush tones work with other pale colors, they work with mid-tone colors, and they look good with deep colors.”

Offering a big-picture perspective, Reed said trend watchers are likely thrilled with a choice like radiant orchid because, historically, brighter colors reflect high hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

“When economic times are bad, the design market moves to neutrals as a way to ride out the troubles,” she said. “When the economic indicators are optimistic, brighter, saturated colors hit the market. The fact that a color as unusual as red/violet or orchid [was chosen] suggests good times are coming, and people are optimistic about the near future.”

Brights plus whites

Designers say white walls have been making a comeback, yet the opposite is happening with upholstery trends.

Furniture designers like Kyle Schuneman, founder of Live Well Designs, say strong colors on upholstery are becoming more the norm. Spending a chunk of 2013 designing his first line of furniture in collaboration with retailer Apt2B, he said he opted to create sofas in bright blues and shades of orange because “a bright sofa is no longer just for a creative office waiting room,” and people are bringing them home.

When furnishings are more colorful, a clean, white backdrop is just the thing, said Greg Connally, owner of Greg Connally Designs and a Fort Worth member of ASID.

“In Texas we had many homes built in the Tuscan style and thus were furnished with a very heavy, dark color palette,” he said. “The lighter and brighter colors were sure to follow.”

Burrill said she believes whites are enjoying a resurgence because “we’re seeing interiors going more towards a contemporary flair, much more now than in recent years.”

However, she also predicts that because the Old World look that has been so dominant in North Texas remains popular with many upscale builders and homeowners, “the white look” will prove more common to condo and loft properties or new or remodeled homes.

“Of course,” she noted, “white as the backdrop for artwork has always been stunning and it never competes.”

Color splashes

“People with essentially neutral interiors can indulge in trendy colors for small purchases for dramatic impact — hence the idea of a ‘pop’ of color,” Reed said. “These might be pillows, small rugs, accessories and the fabric on, say, one piece of furniture — such as an open-arm chair or a table skirt. These are relatively minor purchases and can be changed without impacting the rest of the room.”

For those feeling adventurous about color, Connolly said, “yellow and yellow-gold backgrounds lend themselves very well to red-violet accents.”

Along with Pantone’s trend color for the year, Reed said the Color Council presents a neutral palette, a saturated palette and a lighter palette, and the neutrals have been trending to grays, silver/pewter and taupe tones in recent years — “all colors that will blend well with orchids.”

It might be interesting to see how fabric manufacturers integrate the more vibrant hues into their product lines throughout the year, since Reed noted that “pulling in orchid is going to be a little tricky, as another trend in the decorative fabric and wallpaper markets during the recession was to dramatically pare down the number of color offerings and to limit fabrics to two or three colors within the pattern.”

“Now,” she predicted, “we’ll see orchid working into prints and woven as an accent with other colors, and a few bold solids or monotone prints with orchid, but not a wide distribution of the color.”