New in homes: Paint trends hint at happier times ahead

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Stressors are coming at us from every side: a faltering economy, tighter family budgets, the daily onslaught of distressing news.

So it’s little surprise that coming home to a sense of comfort and ease is a principle that unites the leading paint brands’ Colours of the Year choices for 2024. It’s known that colour has a direct effect on our outlook; and the range of key shades that have been chosen, and the supporting palettes that go with them, definitely offer a soft landing.

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Light to medium honey-yellow, softened with a touch of grey, was the most popular choice; variations of it were chosen by several of the major brands.

Satin, Sico’s colour of the year, is a soft saffron with warm neutral undertones. “Consumers’ preferences are shifting away from stark, cool shades and looking to colours that invigorate a space,” says Martin Fuchs, Sico senior marketing manager. He calls Satin the perfect representation of that sentiment, “with its cheerful yellow base grounded in a calming beige undertone.”

Dulux, a sister brand to Sico through parent PPG, is featuring an almost identical yellow-gold called Limitless. Both of these shades appeal to a sense of optimism and well-being – soothing and liveable, but more interesting than a “safe” neutral like beige or taupe. It’s a step just beyond the expected.

The most interesting of the 2024 yellows comes from BeautiTone, whose pick, Illumina, is brighter than the other two. “We wanted to express a feeling of joy and hope for 2024,” says Kristen Gear, BeautiTone’s lead design and colour specialist. “We’re not certain of what the economy is going to bring in the next couple of years, so we want to surround ourselves with things that support good mental health.”

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A versatile light blue called Upward evokes a sunny day, says Sue Wadden, director of colour marketing at Sherwin-Williams. It pairs well with off-whites and natural woods. Photo by Sherwin-Williams photograph

Yellow can be a challenging colour for the uninitiated, but these softened, creamy versions are an easy-to-live-with way to brighten a bedroom, living room or den. Gear observes that Illumina pairs well with the other tones in the 2024 BeautiTone palette, such as First Light, a creamy apricot; blues such as Little Pleasures or Soul Deep; or an updated neutral such as Hope, a cottony soft off-white, or After Dark, a rich blue-black.

Behr’s 2024 pick is a crisp, interesting off-black with a subtle blue-grey undertone called Cracked Pepper. “We chose Cracked Pepper for its modern look, but it’s also classic,” says Erika Woelfel, Behr’s VP of Colour and Creative Services. “It awakens the senses, elevates mood; it has transformative qualities.” It’s one of those colours that’s deeply affected by lighting; in low light, it can be enveloping and cocooning, while combined with lots of white, it has a crisp, invigorating look. “It’s chameleonlike,” she says, “a meditative, mysterious, calming and relaxing colour.”

Near-blacks have been an up-and-comer in home decorating for several years now, Woelfel continues. “It pairs really well with white, and it’s softer than a true black; it’s not as heavy, which makes it easier to incorporate into an environment.” It can be used on an accent wall, or all four walls with white or off-white trim, woods, lighter neutrals or warm shades like beige, cream or khaki. It’s also stunning as a crisp backdrop in a kitchen or on cabinetry or furniture.

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Not one but two blues appear for 2024, though they couldn’t be more different. Sherwin Williams’ Upward is a cool, light sky-blue that’s versatile and grown-up. According to Sue Wadden, director of colour marketing at Sherwin-Williams, “Upward brings to life that carefree, sunny-day energy that elicits contentment and peace.” She describes it as a tone that invites “a new sense of ease and possibility — one that doesn’t overwhelm, but rather establishes meditation and tranquillity.” Its clear tone pairs nicely with natural woods, off-whites or darks, and would work well in clean-lined Nordic-style interiors, on cabinetry in a white kitchen or on a painted ceiling in a bedroom or front porch.

Blue Nova, Benjamin Moore’s 2024 Colour of the Year, received an out-of-this-world send-off when it was unveiled earlier this month online at Blue Origin’s Orbital Launch Site in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Blue Nova is an assertive blue-violet with real presence; but like most true blues, it’s also approachable. Even with its subtle red undertones, it’s almost warm.

Sico’s colour of the year is Satin, a soft saffron with warm neutral undertones. Photo by Sico photograph

“It has a duality that allows it to work with so many things,” says Sharon Grech, BM’s colour marketing specialist. “We really felt that, as much as we might want to have colour in our lives, we also want to feel safe and comfortable. But there’s sense of adventure in a blue like this – of outer space, or the sky through the windows of the Rocky Mountaineerr.”

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Used as the main wall colour in a room, Blue Nova makes a statement, but it also plays well with others, and works in a variety of different contexts. Grech points out that any of the other colours in the 2024 palette can be used with it to create different effects: crisp contrast with the clean look of White Dove; or showing a softer side, with peachy-pink Teacup Rose or pale-apricot Pristine. (Another strong mid-toned shade, Topaz, was a strong Colour of the Year contender for 2024, says Sharon. An earthy cross between terracotta and deep coral, it makes a gorgeous, painterly pair with Blue Nova.)

And as much as comfort resonates in 2024’s Colours of the Year, the winners don’t evoke timidity.

“We think of the Colour of the Year palette as a catalyst (that) inspires the adventurous side of people,” says Grech. “And a bit of adventure in your home is a good way to spark joy.”

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Originally posted 2023-11-03 12:50:37.