Fresh for fall: Discover the hottest hue in home design

The grayish/brown paint (Benjamin Moore Creekbed) designer April Force Pardoe used in this home office for the 2010 Historic Ellicott City decorator's show house was pulled directly from the bold Thomas Paul drapery fabric.
(Photo By Heather Owens)

When an entire home makeover is not in the budget, consider adding a pop of color to give your home a fun, fresh look. A coat of paint is one of the easiest — and cheapest — ways to make your home feel like new. But if you're afraid to commit to paint, a few accessories in your favorite shade can make a stylish statement.

To help you figure out where to start, Howard Magazine talked to a few local interior designers to find out what's trendy this fall and how you can embrace color in your home.


New neutrals

"Fifty Shades of Grey" was not only the title of this summer's bestselling book, but it also happens to be this fall's hottest color. The achromatic tone is available in a variety of hues and looks great in just about every room in the house.

"There are so many shades of gray," says Vickie Williams, of Vickie's House to Home in Ellicott City. "You can go toward green. I recently did a bedroom in (Sherwin Williams) Comfort Gray, which has a bit of a chameleon color to it. It can go either blue or green; it's very soothing."

Carol Weil, of CLW Designs in Columbia, has noticed gray is replacing beige as the "go-to neutral" in all types of home interiors, including sophisticated urban, rustic and traditional.

"Gray is a classic, and works beautifully with yellow and gold, red and pink, purple and periwinkle blue, just to name a few," she says.

And if gray is too solemn for you, April Pardoe, of the eponymous interior design firm in Elkridge, recommends navy as an alternative neutral that never goes out of style.

"I am 100 percent in love with navy blue. I can't get enough of it in fashion and interiors," says Pardoe. "I love it because it's sophisticated and looks wonderful with both pastels and bold pops of color. Pair it with gray and dark pink and I'm a happy person! It's a bit more versatile than black but has the same grounding effect in a room."

Taste of tangerine


Earlier this year, the color experts at the Pantone Color Institute declared Tangerine Tango the 2012 Color of the Year. Since then, the vibrant red-orange shade has popped up everywhere from the runway to the cosmetic aisle. But the bold color also works well in home décor.

"Tangerine Tango is still trending for fall in its purist form, which is intense and energetic, but also in its softer and more muted variations — from pastel peach to deep copper penny," says Weil.

If you're not ready to paint an entire room tangerine, Williams suggests using the color for an accent wall, pillows or throws.

"I always tell clients when they're shopping around not to go nuts with high-end items, because your design is going to change," says Williams. "But we really feel like if you buy what you love and a trendy color is in it, that's the bonus. I like to find little niches and bring that color in."

Creating a colorful home

For homeowners who are cautious about including color, Weil says the least risky approach is to "ease new colors into a home's existing palette, rather than use them to create something entirely new."


"The effect is a 'room lift,' which starts with the existing palette and accessorizes with throw pillows, bedspreads, tabletop décor, or lamps to create some sizzle and excitement," she says. "Paint will also add almost instant drama and fun — select one wall for a dynamic burst of energy in your kitchen, entry hallway, or one of my favorite places, the powder room.

"As the door usually stays closed until it is being used, I love adding the element of surprise to these rooms with bold pops of color," says Weil.

An easy and chic way to instantly add a touch of color is to group similar items together. To give your home a unique look, she suggests shopping secondhand stores and spray-painting found objects with the same paint.

"Group them for a striking display," she says. "If you like that, after a while you can begin to layer the color, in different shades and textures, around the room so it feels cohesive."

Most importantly, the designers recommend having fun with color and staying true to your likes and dislikes.

"Incorporating colors you love, regardless of whether they are trendy or not, can be easy and fun," says Pardoe, "Like in fashion, don't just buy something because it's a trend. Buy it only because it makes you smile every time you see it."

The psychology of color

Your favorite color can say a lot about your personality, which is important to keep in mind when decorating your home. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, shares her insight.

Red: "Obviously this is an attention-getting color. We always think of it as a dynamic and moving color. Someone who chooses red as a favorite color wants to imbue themselves with the same characteristics of colors."

Yellow: "In most societies, yellow is closely associated with the sun. It has a warm and sunny connotation, which is very nurturing and draws you in. It's a happy color."

Green: "Ninety-five percent of the time, this color is associated with nature. It's a bit more complex because it's made with yellow and blue, so it has some of the same qualities of both colors. Green has an instant connotation of being very natural, very balanced. It's considered the most balanced of all colors."

Orange: "This is a marriage of red and yellow, so it has some of the same qualities as those colors, except it's more approachable than red, but it's friendly, like yellow."

Blue: "The most constant of all colors because of its association with the sky, which to most people says dependability and consistency. Blue is a good choice for bedrooms because of its tranquil feeling."

Purple: "This is a combination of two colors that are seemingly opposites. You get the calming, dependable aspect of blue, put together with the dynamic and energetic aspect of red. A person who prefers purple likes to be thought of as creative."