Color has been an important part of my life since I was in first grade, when I got an “F” for a drawing of a white house. I had not colored in the house, since the paper was white, but I had drawn all of the detail of the house: clapboards, windows, chimney with smoke coming out, blue sky, and of course a red door with a path flanked with multicolored flowers. I think I flunked because the teacher thought I didn’t know what color white was. My mother thought it was hysterical – she saved that drawing for years. She made me realize that I did not deserve the “F” and that I was not, in fact, color challenged.

As I grew up, I loved color more and more. My favorite class in high school was art, taught by Mrs. Dorothy Dobbins of blessed memory, who told me “you make the biggest mess since Jimmy Dine!” I didn’t know whether to be proud to be in the same sentence as Jim Dine (yes, he went to my high school), or to be mortified that I had made a giant mess.

No one had to teach me about the power of color. Colors generated strong feelings in me as I painted. Painting with color evoked visual and emotional memories.

As I switched from my intent to be a painter to becoming an architect, I never abandoned color. I never wear all black and I never design a space without at least a little bold color (see Sudbury Pavilion) or perhaps a lot of softer colors (see Maine Lake House Kitchen). Color is one of the most potent tools in a designer’s tool belt, so architects who make everything white may be missing the opportunity to add some emotion to their buildings. Perhaps they deserve an “F”?

Colors themselves go in and out of fashion, along with style trends. The Color Institute helps the fashion and design worlds create the demand for change, at least around color. The publicity received for the “color of the year” has generated a plethora of companies who now make their annual pronouncements. This year, 8 different paint companies have selected their own “Color of the Year,” and they are heavily promoting these colors. The only commonality that I see is that they are very saturated and they remind me of the 90’s when jewel tones were very “in” style, after the 60’s and 70’s brights and the 80’s pastels. In 2011-12, as an antidote to orange and lime green of the tech boom, the jewel colors came back: amethyst, sapphire, emerald, ruby, garnet, and citrine.

So here we are in 2018. The jewel tones are back again. Here are this year’s Colors of the Year.

1. Benjamin Moore’s “Caliente” is a rich almost brick red – more garnet than ruby.

2. Sherwin Williams’ “Oceanside” is dark teal – a mix of sapphire and emerald – that peacock blue is a perennial favorite.

3. The Color Institute’s Pantone “Ultra-Violet” is an amethyst color, calm and beautiful.

4. PPG Paint’s “Black Flame” is a bold dark charcoal.

5. Glidden’s “Deep Onyx” sends the same message as PPG – and it’s a division of PPG.

6. Olympic Paint (also part of PPG) chose “Black Magic” – (OKAY, we’ll try deep charcoal, PPG!)

7. Dunn-Edwards Paints selected “The Green Hour,” a dark shade of gray blue green (not that different from Sherman Williams’ Oceanside).

8. Behr Paint’s “In The Moment” is a lighter gray blue green right out of the 80’s. Not really a jewel tone; it’s the exception that proves the rule.

Is your head a spinning kaleidoscope of color yet? If you want to read more about why each paint company selected their Color of the Year, read the excellent article by Christina Poletto in the Sunday Boston Glove on January 14, 2018, It Had to be Hue. In Poletto’s article, she also covers a color that is not in this year’s color of the year palette, “Millennial Pink.” You see a lot of that greyed out pink in the stores now. It takes time for colors of the year to work their way into fashion and interiors. Check out the Color Institute’s Pantone Colors of the Year 2016 – Serenity (periwinkle blue) and Rose Quartz (pink). There’s that soft pink that was a bit ahead of its time in 2016.

Expect more jewel tones in fashion and décor in 2019.

For a fun timeline of each of the Color Institute’s Pantone “Color of the Year” since 2000, click here.

Thank you, Liz Curley, Junior Designer at Leslie Saul & Associates, who created our paintbrush illustration.

If you need to add color to a neutral space or have any other color challenge in your office, home, or other place, please give us a call. We would love to help you! Vive la couleur! Long live color!​

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