Should We Really Care About the Colors of the Year?

updated May 3, 2019
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It happens like clockwork, doesn’t it? Right when you think the year is just getting started, a bunch of paint and color companies unveil their Color of the Year, the one hue they think will reign supreme the following year. Of course these shades aren’t a simple as “yellow” or “teal.” They tend to have very descriptive, nuanced names like “sunflower yellow” or “Bermuda sea aqua.”

As 2018 comes to a close, many of us are looking to make our homes better and brighter in the new year. We read up on the most anticipated design trends and even make New Year’s resolutions for our space. But what about these Colors of the Year? Do they really have a place in our home? Should we really care?

Well, it depends on who you ask.

For many companies, the Color of the Year aims to offer an up close and personal look at what’s to come in the upcoming year.

“It’s especially important for interior designers who use them to inform their designs and ultimately be successful, trend-forward thinkers,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams.

Wadden adds Sherwin-Williams, which launched its first Color of the Year back in 2011, uses a trend report called Colormix Color Forecast to survey international trends in fashion, design, pop culture and more.

Another paint stalwart, Behr, has a similar process when choosing its Color of the Year.

“Trends typically bubble up in different places before they find their way into the home, so we start the process by gathering all sorts of inspiration,” says Erika Woelfel, VP of Color Marketing and color expert at Behr. “When we lay out this roadmap, there’s usually an ‘aha’ moment where our team realizes a hue has risen to the top.”

With Blueprint, Behr’s Color of the Year for 2019, Woelfel says she and her team were spotting shades of blue everywhere.

When you think about it, the idea makes sense. Though previous Colors of the Year are still available for purchase—and even go on to inspire new colors—they represent color trends. Whether in music, art, or design, trends create a snapshot of a given time and place—and color is no exception. Fashion designers send “it” colors down the runway, so why should the interior design world be any different?

However, buying a blouse or bag in a new color is a lot easier than, say, painting your walls a new color. The Color of the Year might be trendy, but will it actually drive people to repaint their homes? Or is it more of a publicity stunt? Nicole Gibbons, founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer paint company Clare, is skeptical.

“The colors these brands launch are all vastly different from one another, and none really catch on in a big way in terms of setting trends,” she said

So instead of going the Color of the Year route, Gibbons emphasizes creating and selling colors her customers will love, regardless of what’s trending.

“People want to choose colors that they’ll continue to love year after year and we know that trends come and go,” she explains. “I honestly don’t think the masses are that interested in painting their home a certain color just because a brand told them it’s going to be the next big thing.”

The jury may still be out on whether or not people are rushing out to repaint their homes, but one thing’s for sure: People do pay attention to the Color of the Year.

“We [regularly] run out of color chips for the Color of the Year, which tells us that both designers and consumers are interested in it and use it to inform their decisions,” Walden says.

She adds Sherwin-Williams is seeing positive feedback about its newest Color of The Year, Cavern Clay.

So, the million dollar questions, should we care? Our opinion? Yes, but tread lightly. While these colors successfully start the conversation about colors and trends, nobody’s mandating you add every single one of them to your home. You wouldn’t add a bunch of trendy fringe or granny chic accessories to your home just because it’s trendy, would you?

“In reality, people aren’t redoing every room of their homes each year with the latest Color of the Year pick,” Woelfel says. “But, if they happen to be in the middle of a DIY project—be it painting a bookcase, picking out a hue for a master bedroom, or simply buying new throw pillows—the Color of the Year may inspire them in some way.”

At the end of the day, you have free reign to color your home in whatever shades you’d like. And if a color you love happens to be on trend, all the better.

What do you think? Do you love the Color of the Year or are you ready to say sayonara? Let us know in the comments below!