A House of a Different Color… or too many shades of gray?

When Green was King

Long ago in the 1960’s and ‘70’s, green was king of interior design color trends. As in, one particular shade of avocado, used in tandem with gold, brown and burnt orange.

It was everywhere.

Absolutely everything that was used for the home, from dishes to crockpots to window coverings, came in this quartet of colors. I did not know back at that young age that it was even possible to decorate your home in anything else. Few folks, myself included had never seen anything but that color scheme used.

Then when I was in high school, I visited a boyfriend’s house. His parents had done their living room in pale blue, white and gold with a single, mirrored wall. It was beautiful. I was fascinated and floored. They they had bucked the decorating trend followed by everyone else and had branched out boldly. Was this allowed?

Out with the Green

I met my husband in the early 1980’s and he took me home to meet his parents. There was the obligatory avocado palette: green carpet, green draperies, green lamps, green roses on the sofa and chairs. (Sometime in later years, I asked my husband to help me coat some object in sage-colored paint. My father-in-law sighed and asked, “Is she tryin’ to get you to paint somethin’ green?”)

Then decorating history shifted drastically and the hot new design trend was Country Blue and Mauve. Ruffled muslin curtains and ducks and geese. Bows on everything. Down came the green draperies and and in came pink and blue like a flood.

Everyone dived in, rejoicing at the change, my mother-in-law included. Pink and blue were her favorite colors and they had been approved by society at last. She used the colors with abandon; so much so that I finally (gently of course) suggested that she introduce a third color as an accent. I’ll never forget the conversation.

“You know, green would be a perfect complement to all of the pink and blue in these rooms.”

 “Green! Ugh, I hate green, I never want to see it again.”

“What! I thought you loved green. Why was everything you had in green?”

“Honey, it was the only thing you could buy. The only color that anything came in. You HAD to decorate in green.”

Gray is All the Rage

Thirty years and two or three major decorating trends later, we are now in the twenty-first century and gray, of all colors, is the raging force. Gray color trends are everywhere in the design world. The trend has been driven home by Pinterest, Chip and Joanna, and Houzz, just to name a few. You’ll find it on floors, walls, tile in showers, fabric, light fixtures and anywhere else.

And all too often, this is accompanied by rustic, wooden pieces. Furniture that looks like it has been dragged behind a pickup for a couple of miles. Everyone absolutely loves it.

However, I puzzle over this. I get the attraction because grays certainly can create a calming, sophisticated palette. But fifteen years ago, not a soul would have been sold on this color. And no one would have chosen gray as the major color scheme throughout their home.

What is driving the desire for it? Can this many people really love gray? And what if right now there are people out there who do not get the trend, who would always choose deep color given the option and actually yearn for a warmer look in their homes?

Color Trends are King No More

The good news (and maybe a happy ending to our story) is that there are endless lovely color combinations out today. So many that you need never adhere to the latest raging color trends again. And if you long for green or gold or even burnt orange, even those hues can be current and fresh, 21st century-style.

There is no “one right look” any longer.

You can use whatever you want in today’s world. Unlike my mother-in-law who was stuck for years with a color palette that she did not love but society said she must have. And a really good designer can help you figure out what is perfect for you, not everyone else. They can help you create an environment in your space that you feel at home in, the way it should be.

Billy Baldwin, one of the first great American interior designers, said, “If it’s your favorite color, it’s in style.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Just please don’t ask me to do anything in 1990’s Burgundy. I never want to see that color again.

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