Is the grey trend over? What colour trends are next? Knowing which colour is the next trendy neutral will not help you with your new build project or home renovation decisions. However, understanding how we are influenced by trends and how colour trend cycles work is design knowledge you can use.
Lately I have been getting many emails from readers asking questions like this…
Maria, what comes next??? If we are nearing the end of the gray and white “fresh” trend. What’s next!!??? I’m starting the process of updating a 1990 normal sized (1800 sf) house – nothing touched since it was built in 1994.
I don’t want to spend all this money and end up with a dated house in a year.
Again, if you have recently remodeled or built a new house and you aren’t in love with the result? Well, maybe you should just skip this post. Because if you read it, you’ll understand why you aren’t in love with your new home (meaning you can’t unsee it) and sometimes I just think ignorance is bliss. 😉
NOTE: This post has been UPDATED in 2021.
Colour Trends in Home Decor
I have been in the colour industry for 20 years. This means I started specifying colour at the end of the 90s, when sage green was the ‘trendy neutral’ of choice.
Then in 2002, chocolate brown and blue came along. The brown colour trend was over at the beginning of the 2010s but builders are still–as we speak in 2017–installing espresso kitchens, because IMO most builders are men and men perceive wood to be more valuable than a white kitchen.
So, what comes after the grey trend?
I started talking about grey in 2009, back when I started writing this blog. Grey is still going strong but it’s been 7 or 8 years now.
A colour trend has a shelf life of about 10 years, which is quite different from a fad which is very short lived.
An example of a fad is trendy accent backsplash tile.
Since I have started writing this blog, backsplash or accent tile fads have come and gone about 4 or 5 times. The current Encaustic tile trend will be just as short-lived as every other trendy tile that has arrived on the scene. Here’s a 10 year review on accent tile if you’re interested.
Last fall when I attended Maison and Objet in Paris, black was everywhere.
So let’s go back to the late 90s for a second and talk about where the colour trends have been.
Trendy Neutral in the 90s
Sage green was the sofa, tile and exterior default neutral.
If you still have a sofa from the 90s, it’s most likely sage green. Many of you have bathrooms filled from top to bottom with sage green slate. If you have not painted your house since the 90s, it’s probably a shade of sage green.
Trendy Neutral in the 2000s
And of course, fast forward to 2002 when the Tuscan brown trend arrived on the scene. I was looking for brown and blue fabric about two years before the fabric companies caught up to this trend.
Read more: 5 Ways to Update Your Tuscan Brown Bathroom
Trendy Neutral in the 2010s
Then in 2009, I started talking about the Grey trend (aka fresh, clean colours), just a year into blogging.
When clients ask me to specify charcoal for their exterior or for a sofa, sometimes I’ve been known to say, “But why aren’t you asking me for brown?”
“Because I don’t like brown,” they would reply.
That’s right, because that trend is OVER. Yet, just a few short years ago, you would have wanted brown.
Read More: 4 Ways to Decorate Around Your Charcoal Sofa
We are influenced by trends. This is exactly why you shouldn’t paint your house charcoal or install a charcoal kitchen unless you have lots of money and can change it out as soon as you’re bored, which will happen as soon as the trend is REALLY over.
Here in 2017, grey is on the fringe of being over already.
Here’s the thing.
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of sage green. I just got a new book from one of my designer fabric sources and it’s full of mossy green fabrics.
When was the room below decorated? Hard to know. It’s not brown from top to bottom (and it’s still a pretty brown).
There’s nothing wrong with brown either (like in the photo above). When the brown trend arrived, people said, “I love it! Just like every room needs a hit of black, brown is the same but warmer.”
In April, I mentioned that my fabric rep had arrived with some brown fabric books. Does this mean that brown is back? No, it’s a book full of brown and grey patterns so that if someone has a brown sofa, they can introduce grey with a fabric and tie it all together.
However, is the planet going to go back to installing brown kitchens and brown tile and painting their exterior brown anytime soon?
You’re still going to have brown tones in your case goods. If you go with the washed and distressed grey look it will also look dated very quickly. In addition to all the sleek and solid espresso brown furniture and brown leather parsons chairs that are now dated. A little of any of these trendy items works because your house won’t scream ‘Decorated in the ______trend’.
The reason the grey trend arrived next is because colour was moving back to the 50s and 60s. Brighter and cleaner. Grey is the crisp backdrop to brighter colour as I’ve said time and time again.
AND again, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of grey. Paint your white or cream (or black and white) bathroom (see below) or dining room charcoal (see above) to get your grey fix.
Try something like this:
Just don’t choose grey blindly, over and over again with each colour decision you have to make.
Okay, time to check in… are you depressed yet?
I’m not trying to upset those of you who feel you have too much of any of these neutrals. But, IF you are upset, take notice because it’s likely that what I’m saying rings close to the truth.
What do you do if you have missed all these home colour trends and are renovating or building your new home now?
Does it help you to know that black is the new grey?
NO, it doesn’t.
Because the answer to every colour decision you make while renovating or building your new house is still not going to be BLACK.
Instead, aim for classic and timeless design choices. Here’s what I mean.
Classic and Timeless Design Rules You Should Know
Instead of focusing on the home colour trends of the moment, take stock of all the classic and timeless design tips I constantly talk about on this blog. Because they still apply just like they did 9 years ago when I started writing this blog:
- Medium brown or pale wood hardwood floors are always a classic
- White (or cream) finishes in kitchens (because it allows you to change out your accent colours every 6 months if you want)
- Cream (or white) finishes in bathrooms (see reason number 2 above) and because you’ll save the next homeowner from having to rip out your very personal and trendy choices, immediately upon moving in. Once your finishes are that neutral you can paint the walls and add accessories to make it yours!
- A sofa in your favourite colour (see my yellow sofa above, which is 7 years old and still awesome)
- Silver (combined with easy-to-switch-out items in gold like lighting and hardware and don’t be afraid to mix metals)
- One pattern in hard finishes like tile and countertops is the MAX QUOTA for each room
- Keep the patterns in your permanent finishes quiet
- Simple fireplace mantels in a modern or traditional style but without the usual trendy stacked stone (because the stone colour will dictate your decorating palette FOREVER)
I could go on and on, of course. But I think I’ve hit the most important areas for this post today!
And hey, it’s just my opinion. It doesn’t mean it’s right. Take whatever advice works for you and throw the rest out the window! A little styling always goes a long way if you ended up with a space you don’t love.
I would have loved it if someone had told me that buying a leather forest green sofa and loveseat back when I was a newlywed in the 80s was totally trendy. Back then, I was convinced I was making a classic and timeless decision.
My last advice is this: Before you start making decisions on the most expensive purchases you’ll make in your life (as is the case for many of us), hire a professional.
Check out our eDesign services here or find someone local to guide you. Interview your designer to make sure you get someone who has a classic and timeless aesthetic. Because, I don’t want this to happen to you.
If you are a design professional and are interested in learning about trends, colour and discovering how to design your clients homes from a classic and timeless aesthetic, spend three days with me this year in a workshop near you or sign up to be notified when my online colour training launches in 2021.