Singing the Blues
(but in a good way)
By Tammy Adamson-McMullen
Home decor are singing the blues this year, but this isn't a sad thing.
Instead, the popularity of blue in home fashion reflects consumer desire for comfort and growing optimism about the economy, according to color experts who talked with YourDecoratingResource.com about emerging trends.
Throughout the remainder of 2015, we can expect to see more blues in paint choices, fabrics, wallcoverings, decorative accessories and other home furnishings in shades that both reassure and reinvigorate.
Erika Woelfel, director of color marketing for Behr, notes that 2014 is a big year for all ranges of blue. "Cobalt is still going strong. Iris is more on the purple side, and navy will make more progress this year as well," she says.
Teal is another emerging blue, according to Woelfel, who notes that the color was popular in the '90s. "Back then, it was called 'Rainforest' because it was associated with eco-awareness and rising environmental concerns. In the 20-year cycle that colors rotate through, its time has come to surface again."
The palette over the last few years has been mostly neutral, accented by occasional bright pops of color. The palette will continue to liven up, say some experts, but the hues—like blue—will be more livable.
Blue fills the bill because it feels safe, says Peggy Van Allen, color marketing expert with Colorfuel. "There is a desire to break away from neutrals but a need to be somewhat conservative. Blues are comforting, have a nature connection and are versatile enough to work in every style," Van Allen explains. Plus, "They can be warmed up or cooled down."
Jennifer McConnell, vice president of design for Pearson Furnishings, noted that while the trend is for more color, the "hot colors" of yesterday have receded. "Now, there is a resurgence of traditionalism that we are seeing grow in popularity," she says. "More traditional, livable and richer colors will gain popularity."
However, while the palette is becoming more colorful, we shouldn't discount neutrals. Many experts pointed to the continued popularity of gray in particular as well as charcoal.
Barbara Schirmeister, color and design consultant for Hunter Douglas and a member of the Color Association of the United States, suggests that no color is really "out." "No color family disappears," she says, "only the emphasis on hue, intensity and grayscale."
As it is, many emerging home fashion products feature blue and blue-touched neutrals in combination.
York Wallcoverings, for instance, is introducing a "Smokey Blue" in wallpaper found in the Candice Olson collections. According to Gina Shaw, vice president of new product development, Smokey Blue "lends a touch of brightness to the palette without being too overpowering and is expected to be quite popular for its ability to work well with soft brown and gray."
The fact that blue works so well with neutrals is good news for consumers, who can easily update existing decors with just a few colorful additions. To a gray-and-white color scheme, for example, might be added peacock and touches of copper—a color scheme that Van Allen puts into the No. 1 spot this year.
Blues in general pair beautifully with warmer colors. "When blue is a popular color, its complements from the warm spectrum become prevalent as well," says Woelfel. "Yellow and orange are terrific support colors for all ranges of blue."
Deep and Saturated
Within the blue family, deeper blues will have some prominence not only in residential décor but in commercial settings, too.
Lee Menichella, president of Chella Textiles, notes that his company's hotel clients are embracing both neutrals as well as deep blues. "My hotel clients are still working with grays, especially soft ones, for neutral base colors and also with interesting blues, including navies, which seem to be here to stay for awhile longer," he says.
Emerging blues range from navies and deep, Mediterranean sea-like colors to tropical Caribbean tones and airy, atmospheric hues. Also popular are berry blues. DULUX paint brand, in fact, has placed Huckleberry (70BB 10/275) as a key blue for 2014.
These saturated blues will be seen all over the home, in paint colors, draperies and upholstery as well as in other prints and patterns. The return to color has been welcomed by consumers who had grown tired of monochromatic beige/linen/gray looks. Saturated blues are happy and optimistic and can feel opulent.
"I would love to see deep, glossy blue kitchen cabinets married with white marble countertops. I think that would be such a rich way to update an all-white Carrara marble kitchen," McConnell enthuses. "Mix it with polished brass hardware, and it would be the million dollar look!"
Are any colors receding? It's hard to give a thumbs-down to any color, since color selection is still first and foremost a personal decision. However, several experts pointed to a decrease in popularity for bright yellows as well as greens, which slowly but surely gave way to blues.
Part II, "Color is Back," looks at other colors entering the palette, including new purples and reds.