Beyond Blue Paint: Paint Color Gets Grapey

Pantone paint forecastLife poses many daunting existential questions, none more vexing than this one: what color should I paint the bedroom, living room or bath? You've been there before, standing in the paint store squinting at color swatches, wondering whether that gray is too dark (looks like a funeral home!) or if the coral is a tad too pink (way too Barbie!).

Enter the professional color trend forecasters, like Pantone and the Color Marketing Group. You might not have heard of them before, but these are the folks who help us and the design pros decipher whether we're having a dusky rose moment, or perhaps that mystical mauve is right for our gloomy zeitgeist. How they reach these conclusions is, uh, a bit murky. Pantone relies on "a team of leading visionaries" while CMG polls its members in design and industry, which is probably why you bought that terracotta orange washing machine a few years back.

So what are experts recommending as the right color to get us through these recession-racked times?Pantone turquoisePantone weighs in for turquoise, "an inviting, luminous hue," as this year's go to color. It's a good choice for jangled nerves: turquoise combines the serene qualities of blue with the invigorating aspects of green, which evokes thoughts of soothing tropical waters and "a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world," the Pantone color gurus write.

But wait. CMG goes with grape for 2010. Or more accurately, Mardi Grape, "a sophisticated crossover between purple, brown and gray." It has roots in Europe, started in fashion and is now the right color for "everything else," according to CMG. It's said that the hues of brown and gray make this grape a neutral, one that is versatile and has staying power - which sounds like this color is on Viagra.

For 2011, it's a little more complicated. Pantone suggests nine "directional color palettes" for home interiors. Not just colors; these are narratives about color, with names like Cottage Industry (think quiet pastels and tasty neutrals): Simply Stated (deep periwinkle and warm taupe); Clarity (pure white with a dash of Tibetan red); and Wit and Whimsy (carrot and coral cooled down by ultramarine and clematis blue).

All sounds yummy, and of course there's nothing like a dash of color to brighten a room that faces an air shaft. But you still might be confused. Benjamin Moore says its color of the year is Cedar Green. And CMG doesn't think you should be relegated strictly to Grape: it also strongly suggests reds ("strong with pink intuition") and yellow (softened with gray).

Paint company PPG Pittsburgh Paints can help with My Voice of Color, a special service that links homeowners with interior designers for one-hour, in-home consultations for only $75 (sadly only available in Pittsburgh right now). With almost 2,000 colors to sort through, that's probably worth the investment - unless you want to stay with boring old white.

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