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Colour Trends

Should you Surrender to the Temptation of a Trend?

By 03/30/2010May 16th, 202140 Comments

Lately I’ve had a few clients say to me, “I’m not a trend follower” or “Is that trendy, I want timeless”! Are trends good or bad? That is the question.

Trends usually last about 10 years. The brown trend in the design world started in 2002 (in the West Coast). Before that, everyone wanted a gray/moss green sofa. Then it went from moss green to chocolate brown. Now (2010) everyone wants a gray or white sofa (okay not everyone, just many of the clients I’m seeing these days).

‘Wait’, you say, ‘we technically have 2 more years before the brown trend is over’, and you’re right. It takes time for moms in the suburbs or smaller towns who are so busy raising their small children (like my two sisters in Abbotsford) to notice if they even have their make-up on!!

Really. I don’t have children but when I’m around my 2 sisters and my 3 nephews starting in age from 5 months to 4 1/2 years old, I have great respect for moms, it’s the hardest job there is!

My point is, the further I go out from the core of the city for consultations, the more questions I get that have been accumulated by moms (and dads too) who care about how their house looks but really haven’t had the time to analyze exactly what they should do (let alone which colours are in, unless they notice while shopping at Costco).

They are so thrilled when I arrive (and don’t judge–of course—remember my colour and condoms post) and give them a plan for decorating and painting their home 🙂

So here’s the thing about trends.

It doesn’t matter what style your house is or what era it’s in. After you’ve been looking at anything for 10 years you want something new! It’s just the way human beings are wired. People with large amounts of disposable income re-decorate every 7 years (yes the 7 year itch is a real thing), so of course by year 10, we are ready for something new.

The best advice I can give on choosing colours is this; don’t keep choosing the trendy neutral of the moment or your entire house will be brown! Don’t install brown-on-brown, especially if you only decided you liked it because you’ve seen it everywhere, that’s when you might think twice about installing an espresso brown kitchen, for example.

Personally I think the most timeless rooms are the ones that you decorate in your favourite colours.

Tobi Fairley, a designer (who has one of her projects on House Beautiful’s cover this month) in an interview with the lovely bloggers at The Skirted Roundtable noted that the clients who decorated with beige got tired of their space quicker than the ones who trust her advice and installed a red sofa instead (for example, like I did for one of my clients in this interior).

Perhaps surrounding ourselves with colours we love creates atmosphere faster than beige. 

But since the colour trend is going towards happy, you may want some of that somewhere in the months to come!

All images from Tobi Fairley Interior Design


When you re-decorate this year or in the future, what colour sofa will you buy?

If you would like to transform the way you see colour, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

Atmosphere; The one Thing you Cannot Buy

5 Steps to a Kitchen you will Love! (painted or wood stained cabinet?)

Colour Trends for 2010

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  • Terry says:

    When our designer friend comes over. He nearly always changes something. We didn't know we needed it but once it's done, it's like we can breath again.

  • Melissa @ Veranda Interiors says:

    Great way to dissect it, and so true! I also get worried when I look at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware and everything I loved is now available by them…it is now mainstream.

  • details and Design says:

    I like to design sofas in a solid color but with texture and make the color wow in the chairs. You can always move chairs around easier than a sofa to mix it up a bit. Sounds simple but it works well for most of my clients. i have branchport brown walls in my bedroom and still love it ..5 yrs me it is a neutral:) and since I live on the coast, the rest of my pallet is tranquil colors in other rooms.

    Since I cannot afford to redo myself all that often, I rearrange a bunch! I never buy anything that I do not know where it is going next. Has worked well for me for 20 yrs…but I have to admit lately I keep filling up my high school daughter's future apartment…with finds I MUST have but may be a bit on the trendy side. So, later, give it to the kid!

  • kerrisdaledesign says:

    Hi Maria!

    Yes, Trend is a dirty word… In marketing we differentiate between "trends" and "fads". Trends have staying power, they indicate where things are moving and even once they have mainstream acceptance don't die off. Fads in contrast are a quick blip on radar, and this is really what most people think of when they use the word Trend.

    In terms of timeless rooms, I think that good design (balance, symmetry etc) are at the heart of it. Having these components in place mean that looking at a room decades later you can still appreciate it and find it attractive, regardless of the colour scheme that may have been used. And you are right, when a homeowner is picking their favorite hues, this room will make them happy and will have staying power.

    Glad you mentioned Tobi Fairley, I enjoyed the interview that the ladies at the Skirted Roundtable did. What a talented lady and amazing business woman too! Very inspiring.


  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    Great post. I think trends are what you make them. Most designers bring their own originality to a project, it is the consumers that really create "trends" from their buying power.

  • Vanessa says:

    When I moved into my house, I painted the family room and kitchen a gray Para colour which went really well with my kitchen counter and fireplace surround. BUT I couldn't live with it so I repainted in a soft butter colour which makes me happy! To answer your question, when I replace my living room sofa, I will probably play it safe with a linen/sand colour.

  • Lisa says:

    What a great post Maria. And I love Toby's photos. Gosh you girls are both such stars with your magazine covers and all!
    So here is my theory. I will go for a trendy anything (wardrobe piece or accessory for my home)if the price is right which is usually not in the early phase when everyone is running all over having to have it!
    I like something fun & trendy mixed in with the more classical look of my home. I think it keeps things fresh and from looking to fuddy-duddy! Lisa

  • Marlo says:

    I am choosing a colour that makes me giddy when I walk into the room.

    I recently considered buying a cream sofa with the intention of switching out the pillows, when I tire of their colour, but I had second thoughts when I couldn’t find a sofa fabric that I like that stands up to soils. I thought about it for a long time and I realized that if I bought neutral I’d be playing it safe – again. Am I going to play it safe for the rest of my life? Am I going to make colour choices based on love or fear? If I’m going to tire of colour I will also tire of cream, gray, taupe or brown – two of which I already have and never really liked; they were safe choices and where did they get me?

    Why NOT choose a colour I love that will make me giddy each time I walk into the room? If I can get ten years of smiles, or even five, it would be much more than I ever got from the neutrals.

    I’m buying a sofa in green (same as tulip leaves – one of my favourite flowers) because I love it and it makes me feel good. And that’s all I want to be – happy in my home.

  • Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury says:

    Great post, Maria. It's tough to stand your ground and use the colors and styles that really speak to you when they're not "on trend". There have been periods when the trends made me feel really out of step in my own home but now that we're heading into happy colors I'll be "in" again! (for a while) To answer your sofa question: I have had an off-white sofa for the last 20 yrs and think I always will. Pillows, throws, colorful chairs, changing wall colors and accessories all play off it perfectly. Sometimes I think it's the too easy choice but if it's worked this well for this long, why change it?

  • Emily A. Clark says:

    Maria, This is a wonderful post! I so agree that you should ultimately decorate your home with what you LIKE instead of what everyone else seems to be doing. You see so many trends in the blog world that you just know are going to look silly a year or two from now but everyone follows suit anyway. I'm sure I've been guilty as well . . .

    Have a great day,

  • Sharon says:

    I don't know if it's coz of trends, but I would totally reupholster my sofa in white/blue stripes. And for paint, lately, I get attracted to everything taupe…Although I'm not necessarily going for the "beachy".

  • Erin @ The Impatient Gardener says:

    I'm now on my second red sofa in 10 years and I've never regretted the red decision (I'm just not a beige sofa kind of person) I do have a craving for a beautiful navy/tan/cream scheme in my living room. That won't be happening anytime soon as there is nothing that NEEDS replacing and the two most expensive pieces in the room—the rugs—have nothing to do with blue/tan/cream.

  • Tammy@InStitches says:

    I had a happy red sofa and then I got a sad brown sofa and now I'm getting ready to cover it in off white. Not sure how smart that is with kids and a dog but I HAVE to lighten my family room up. I may start by repainting and see if that helps !

  • Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    I agree with you, Maria. If you love it anyway, don't worry about trends. I have to say that I noticed the turquiose/aqua "trend" before it was named as color of the year. I'm sure I started seeing it about two years ago. I do find that I run about 7 years before I start feeling I want to change something in my house. But, then it could be another 3 before I actually do something!

    I just did a white slipcover for my living room sofa. I'm finding it quite a nice break from the dark blue with large floral print that I had. I'd rather just dress it up with pillows to bring color in.

  • Anonymous says:

    My parents have had a red sofa for over 10 years.

    I love it.



  • Tara says:

    I just bought a vintage couch that is a gorgeous silver/gold print which is still neutral but in a glamorous way. I'm so torn between my color love and my longing for neutrals…so painted the screened in porch door a bright citron yellow –perfect cheap color fix.

  • Nichole@40daysof says:

    I have a red sofa and a green sofa. They need to be recovered because of condition, they are almost 9 years old. I have been concerned because I still like the colors and am contemplating doing the same colors again. Your post made me feel less concerned and more confident. Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:

    My sofa is Hermes orange! It's been that color for almost 6 years and I still LOVE it.

  • Kelly, Arte Styling says:

    Trends are fun to watch, and sometimes give us ideas for color palette possibilities we haven't thought of yet. If a trend happens to speak to you, I say go for it! But, if you are using a color just because it's trendy, you WILL get tired of it – whether it's a color, color combination, furniture style, texture, material, etc. I think focusing on things that make you happy in the home is the best way to go, rather than worrying about being en vogue.

  • Kim Lemmon says:

    My kids are finally grown enough for me to get my now red sofa (which I LOVED with my olive green walls) reupholstered in WHITE! Can't wait!

  • Rachel says:

    Violet sofas!
    and not because that is the "color of the moment". I've always had a thing for the hue…

  • A Room For Everyone says:

    Maria, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your blog. I've only read a few posts, but it's wonderful. During our renovations, I've searched the web for practical colour advice and came up quite short. Your writing is engaging and interesting, I'll definitely be following along from here on..Rachaelxx

  • Struggler says:

    Mmm, yes, I think it all depends on what timescale your redecorating budget is on. Some are lucky/wealthy enough to re-do a room after 3 years. Others have to stretch the room beyond 13 years (or have spouses who think a room lasts a lifetime!). For those at that end of the spectrum, I think you have to choose things you love because you'll be "married" to it a long time 😉

  • Acanthus and Acorn says:

    Oh! Such a good topic. I have a chocolate brown chenille sofa in our family room purchased in 2005. So…brown is on it's way out and I am hearing around so is chenille…HA! The sofa still looks good…so I am in no big hurry to "out" it!

    I have pieces in velvet that I am told is back "in"…I think trends are great ways to experiment and have some fun for all the smaller items!

    But, I trust my taste and usually buy classics for my own home and tend to love them for a good long while.

  • Lucy says:

    Hi Maria

    I love the images in this post, love the glass vases and the artwork (especially in the first pic and also the children on the beach painting is so vibrant).

    Anyway my sofa is…brown 🙁
    I happy to go with what I like rather than trends (though I do get swept along sometimes so the two coincide), but the truth is I never really liked this sofa. I sort of (whisper) got persauded it must be nice because my mum liked it, and she does have great taste, but it doesn't go with any of my future plans! It's quite new, but if I were to be buying a new one I'd go for green if that was suitable for the room, or perhaps another colour in a pale shade. Never gray (or grey as we call it here), I would hate a grey sofa. Don't know why.

  • Kerri says:

    Hi Maria, what a great post! I've just found your blog via Rachael at A Room for Everyone, and I'm so glad I did! I've just spent the last hour reading through your fantastic blog, and I'm now an avid follower. Thanks for your generosity and great advice, just sorry it's taken me so long to find you!
    Kerri xx

  • Southern Chateau says:

    It's very trendy to say you don't like trends!

  • ashlina says:

    oh girl. that aqua + red kills me everytime….BEAUTIFUL!

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    my sofas, which I just bought, are brown!! UO (hehe)

  • Tobi Fairley says:

    thanks for using my photos and mentioning my skirted roundtable interview. I loved your post and am thrilled that so many of your readers seemed to love it too. Reading their comments was so much fun!

    And for the record, I have one black sofa and one white sofa and I love them both!

  • kmadolin says:

    i am dying for an emerald green sofa! and i agree, just go with the colors you love – it's your house and you have to live in it!

  • Marija says:

    My sofa is caramel, or cognac. Not really sure what to call it. But as much as I know it's not popular, I also know we love it. Looks good with the grey rug, but when I tire of that, it will work with something else, I'm sure. Because we chose something we love. Good advice, Maria! Marija

  • traci zeller designs says:

    Maria, this is a wonderful post!! You are so right that decorating with the colors you love is absolutely the way to go. That's why — while I do still love my neutrals and use them a lot — there's a lot of blue going on in my own home!

  • Nancy@marcusdesign says:

    This is a great post Maria, I really enjoyed it. I think you really hit the nail on the head by saying that we ultimately should choose colors that we love. I think that this idea should translate to everything in our homes and not just our colors!

    I don't like to buy a furniture piece or artwork for example, unless I totally love it and want to look at it every day, regardless of the trends!!

  • Kimberly Grigg at Knotting Hill Interiors says:

    Maria, I could not agree more! It seems that we are bombarded with so many "new neutrals" these days that it takes a great deal of focus to figure out what is trend vs. what colors we TRULY love ourselves. Personally, I adore brown. I actually just blogged about it a couple of weeks ago. It was my "black" long before it was ever in style, and I even use it with colorful tissue paper in the retail portion of my design shop to bag gifts. It's our VERY small-scaled "Tiffany's Box", in a way. Everyone knows where their gift came from as soon as they see the brown bag arrive. LOL. 🙂 Thanks for your great blog! I read every post!

  • Anonymous says:

    Love your blog.Always went for bieges but now feel like having all the bright colours around, yet am scared to even try.

  • mydivabydesign says:

    I loved this post. I don't follow trends too closely. I find that I am usually ahead of them anyway. That sounds so snotty, but it always surprises me. The things I like at any given time become very popular about two years later. I wish I knew how to tap into that!:)

  • Visual Vamp says:

    I love trends and trendy things!

    It's fun to see how everyone reinvents the wheel year after year.

    I like to try at least one new trend when they come out.

    I recently saw a black and white stripe couch that knocked my trendy socks off!

    xo xo

  • Designwali says:

    I totally caught your Style at Home appearance & your post on Penelope's blog. I did a happy dance for you too. Congrats!

  • Laurie - Little Blue Chairs says:

    I was just having a conversation with my neighbor about trends and decorating her room. I always love what you have to say.

    And I will be buying a white slip covered couch, hopefully in the next 6 months.

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