If it feels like we’re all being asked to live inside an enormous decorative rainbow lately, that wouldn’t be far off. Show after show, furniture and décor brands have asserted that color is no longer a light suggestion. It should live. On the walls! In the kitchen! In the bathroom!
This chromatic riot requires some refining, as not every interior is ready for a pastel-infused punch or a full-on Memphis revival. Designers have to expertly deploy color for real life, not just for magazine shoots. Asked what colors are resonating with her clients, Sacramento-based Laura Neuman, founder of PepperJack Interiors, reveals a sophisticated palette. “For the adventurous client, I’ll be using dramatic and dark greens, blues, and mustard yellows in furnishing as well as paint finishes. We’ll also be seeing sturdy and confident blacks on interior cabinetry and for exterior paint colors.”
Neuman’s instincts are in-line with Farrow & Ball’s latest. The British wallpaper and paint maker has just released nine new colors (unveiled at a special installation at the London Design Festival) that speak to the “right now.” New paint might not stir everyone, but Farrow & Ball doesn’t make a regular habit of introducing hues. The company refreshes its palette of 132 colors but once every few years, and archives others in the collection.
This range has its share of neutrals—Jitney No. 293 is a sandy offering named for the bus that takes New Yorkers to the Hamptons, and Shadow House White No. 291, a soft white described as “reminiscent of the color used in school houses.” There are also richer offerings like a moody, Georgian-influenced Paean Black No. 294, a strong hue that has a red base; De Nimes No. 299, an elegant blue, and the Japanese leaf-inspired Bancha No. 298, which is a hardy take on F&B’s beloved Olive. There is also pink—a color that has been (regrettably) appropriated for an entire generational of Millennials. The brand has two options: Rangwali No. 296, a vibrant shade that summons the bright pink powder found during India’s Holi festival, and Sulking Room Pink No. 295 which has a more languid, muted tone.
We are so accustomed to reacting to color—on our bodies and on the walls—that it’s easy to overlook the very complex work of developing it. “Creating new colors is a meticulous and timely process—from the initial research to launching the new colors is around 18 months—ensuring that each new colour really earns its place on our color card,” says Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at Farrow & Ball. “When developing new colors, we speak to our global colour consultants and showrooms and analyse our existing color card to identify any gaps in the palette. We also look at long term decorating, social and economic trends to help us choose the right colors to add to our edited collection.”
Thinking of pigments as part of a broader cultural exercise makes sense considering the role fashion plays in our lives. The Pantone Institute has been christening a Color of the Year for nearly two decades, helping track how we feel and articulating in tones sometimes before we know it. Color at home will always feel more personal. Living with it, or the absence of it, is an exclusively personal choice. Designers agree that painting is the easiest and fastest way to give a space an entirely new character, or in some cases, a modest one. “Updating an existing scheme by painting an alcove, piece of furniture, one wall or trim can be a great way to introduce a stronger color without feeling overwhelmed,” says Crosby.
“If you are confident with color, Preference Red is our ‘color of the moment’, it’s our richest, deepest red and looks amazing teamed with gold, Paean Black or Hague Blue. For a super luxe look use Preference Red on the walls and ceiling, Paean on the trim with accents of gold. Rangwali is our friendliest color, welcoming, vibrant and adventurous. My favorite uses for this hue are the front door, hallways, exteriors, and the underside of free-standing baths. It looks spectacular with Vardo, Downpipe and All White!”