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The Return of Beige?
By Tracy Dickinson
home :: home & garden :: style trends

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The Return of Beige?

Looking ahead to upcoming color and interior design trends.

A quick search of current color trends provides a steady stream of photos featuring the shades of stormy seas and lavender fields. So the popularity of the many shades of gray is not waning any time soon.

But with research, and the expertise of designers watching trends outside the Midwest, reveals a change on the horizon. The beach at the edge of those stormy seas is making a comeback. Think sand and champagne, not golden oak and caramel.

Gray vs. beige

Though brown has remained a popular color in other industries, such as automotive and fashion, the trend had leaned toward grays for the past several years.

In central Iowa, it has been the go-to color in home show decor and even exterior paint choices. “Gray is still strong,” says Tammy Burmester of Trieste. “All the newest design catalogs still show a solid mix of grays with rich colors like plums and blues.”

Although retailers are still stocking the shelves with predominantly cool grays, lavenders, and blues, the up-and-coming trends in home furnishings and design are hinting at more cool beiges in the future. HGTV recently predicted brown tones would show up more often in coming years, especially in shades reminiscent of spices and beverages. Mocha, latte, or cinnamon, anyone? And the Huffington Post suggested that old, familiar beige would soon surpass gray as the popular neutral.

But Victoria Veiock of Wicker & the Works, says, “I would say that beige never went out.”

Artis Fine Furnishing’s Beth Artis agrees. “I don’t think gray will ever be out. There might be certain shades of gray that are less popular, and experts will vary on their opinions of what is in style, but both grays and beiges are always in.”

Color selection

In fact, Artis says the two color families remain so popular that she hasn’t noticed a dramatic trend toward one over the other.

Veiock adds, “Gray is still fairly new to most people, but it tends to be a cooler color, and one must be careful because many grays can go to the blue hues,” which doesn’t always work with the rest of a home’s decor.

And if your goal is to update a room’s look without undertaking a major remodel, you have to choose a color that works with more than the latest style. You have to consider trim, hardware finish and style, the decor in the rest of your home, and your existing furnishings.

Burmester explains, “Most homeowners are less likely to use a trendy color all over a room. They’d rather invest in items that are neutrals and add pops of color that they can change as the trends change—with items such as pillows, window treatments, and accessories.”

Style trends

Color may not be the quickest indicator dating a room’s style, but it can be a factor. After all, we can all identify these color combinations by their era: mint green and red (Leave It to Beaver); olive green, earthy brown, and harvest orange (The Brady Bunch); pastel pink and white (Miami Vice).

In order to incorporate color trends without dating your decor too quickly, Artis offers this advice. “Trends can be incorporated into timeless style and still be fashionable if the bones of the space are done right in the first go-round.”

To accomplish that, she explains, the quality of the design and the furnishings is paramount. And homeowners are recognizing this. “I believe the ‘flight to quality’ is on a massive comeback,” she says. “Homeowners are learning that disposable furniture isn’t just lower quality; it isn’t environmentally responsible or comfortable.”

That drive toward better quality is reflected in style as well, with traditional color schemes making a comeback.

“In addition to the grays and beiges,” says Veiock, “I’m seeing a lot of white, both painted and stained, in varying shades. We haven’t seen white furniture in quite a while, but it works so well with either the gray or beige backdrop.”

Adds Burmester, “Paint companies bring out their ‘color of the year’ every year, and that tends to drive trends a little bit. But for most people, those colors work better as inspiration rather than the focus of the décor.”

Watching the trends can help you keep your home up-to-date and your design fresh. But living by those same trends can be a mistake. Experts will always advise you to follow your heart. Choosing what you love is more important than adopting the latest trend.

So if you just repainted your beige living room in shades of gray, relax. You can still enjoy your happy place. It’s just a rocky beach instead of a sandy one.


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