Beyond The Color Of The Year: Big Color Trends For 2018

The Pantone color of the year gets a lot of press – in fact, it’s one of the few color predictions that gets broad attention outside of the design world. That said, Pantone is far from the only company with their finger on the pulse of home design trends, and color and palette predictions from other paint companies – like Behr, Sherwin Williams, or Benjamin Moore – can often be easier for a design novice to work with. Even more than individual colors or swatches, compiling and comparing all the different predictions can help you get a sense of what types and groups of colors will be popular in the year to come.

Pantone’s Color of the Year: Ultra Violet

A rich, dark purple like Ultra Violet often works best as an accent rather than a base color, adding a little bit of brightness to your decor (by Libby Langdon Interiors, Inc.)
A rich, dark purple like Ultra Violet often works best as an accent rather than a base color, adding a little bit of brightness to your decor (by Libby Langdon Interiors, Inc.)

Pantone’s color of the year predictions have a broad appeal not necessarily because they’re always spot-on (though the prediction itself is usually enough to shape the design world!), but because they extend beyond the realm of interior design to fashion and beauty products as well. But while you’re more likely to have heard “Ultra Violet” than almost any other color prediction, a color that makes a good eye shadow or sleek fabric won’t necessarily be easy to integrate into your home decor as well. We’ve got a few pointers for decorating with Ultra Violet, and it certainly can be a really striking accent, but keep in mind that the Pantone color of the year is more about setting the mood for the year to come than repainting your living room.

Moving From Off Whites To Darker Neutrals

Using darker neutrals doesn't have to mean making a dark room - just one that has a little more weight and texture than one with a white-on-white color scheme (by Carolina Design Associates, LLC)
Using darker neutrals doesn’t have to mean making a dark room – just one that has a little more weight and texture than one with a white-on-white color scheme (by Carolina Design Associates, LLC)

Personally, I find it a lot more useful to look at multiple palettes and swatches from different designers and paint companies and see where there’s an overlap. Compared side-by-side, there’s one very clear trend that was already starting to show up at the end of 2017: whites and off whites have finally started to wear out their welcome. Gray has been a favorite color for a few years now, and while that isn’t changing, the shade and context are. Until now, gray has mostly been showing up as a relatively light color – an alternative to beige and typically paired with whites and creams. In 2018, expect to see darker grays – like slate and charcoal – paired with rich earth tones, sandy shades, and darker wood. Homeowners and designers alike are sick of washed out spaces, so in 2018 expect even baseline neutral palettes to have a little more richness and color to them.

Going Bold With Black Accents

Solid black paint has a very modern feel, but tints that are just slightly off-black can have a surprisingly elegant feel in a more traditional space (by W. David Seidel, AIA)
Solid black paint has a very modern feel, but tints that are just slightly off-black can have a surprisingly elegant feel in a more traditional space (by W. David Seidel, AIA)

An interesting offshoot of this trend towards darker neutrals – and particularly darker grays – is the rising popularity of a rather unusual accent color: black. Now, solid blacks can be difficult to work with even in small doses; you mostly see them in intentionally high-contrast modern decors. But this year look for softer, flat, not-quite-blacks with just a drop of color or white to smooth the edge of the contrast, especially used as accent walls or (if you’re feeling particularly bold) to paint a whole room. A soft black is wonderful at making bold colors pop, white trim can make it look incredibly sharp, and it’s a great, easy way to tip the balance in a room you’ve already decorated in a lighter color scheme.

Blurring the Definition of “Neutral”

If you've been waiting for a chance to experiment with warm, bold colors, here's your permission: feel free to go a little wild in 2018! (by Tim Clarke Design)
If you’ve been waiting for a chance to experiment with warm, bold colors, here’s your permission: feel free to go a little wild in 2018! (by Tim Clarke Design)

That said, since the underlying goal is to create more colorful rooms that are a little less bleak than the layered whites of the last few years, expect to see fewer mix-and-match gray color schemes as well. While charcoals and shadowy off-blacks are in the spotlight, other neutral colors are evolving, too – in this case, they’re getting warmer. Instead of generic beige and tan, expect to see sand and coral, soft pinks and yellows in place of cream, and warm-toned grays instead of cool blue or purple ones. While the shades differ from one manufacturer to another, almost every prediction agrees that 2018’s palettes will be dominated by bold, warm not-quite neutrals, from a revised set off off whites all the way up to and including bold clay reds, terracotta oranges, and salmon pinks for much more vibrant, varied interiors.

Bring In A Little Color With Bright Blue And Teal

Teal is a very bold color, but it holds up well to red and orange, if you're looking to mix and match your color trends (by JBMP Architecture and Interior Design)
Teal is a very bold color, but it holds up well to red and orange if you’re looking to mix and match your color trends (by JBMP Architecture and Interior Design)

A slightly-less touted color of the year is Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside. It’s just one offering in a lot of their suggested 2018 palettes, but it’s similar to a few bold peacock blue-greens that show up in a lot of manufacturer’s 2018 predictions. Like Ultra Violet, a little bit of this vivid gem tone goes a long way, imparting a bright, creative feel when used as a wall paint and a little cheerful pop of color when used for smaller accents. That said, bright blue-greens are a little easier to wrangle than just about any shade of purple, and are definitely easier to tone down and mellow out (by going lighter, darker, or a little more blue than green). So if you’re looking to add a little color to your home, unless you’re a big fan of purple, a bright blue might be a better way to go.

Connect With Nature With Botanical Greens

Muted gray-greens have a relaxed, earthy feel, and can change color pretty significantly based on light levels, which makes them a great choice for window-filled rooms (by Snell David LTD)
Muted gray-greens have a relaxed, earthy feel and can change color pretty significantly based on light levels, which makes them a great choice for window-filled rooms (by Snell David LTD)

Lots of 2018 palettes are also including different shades of green, but unlike the bold clay reds and the bright, eye-catching blues and purples, the greens that will be popular in the coming year are very mellow – dusky sage or olive tones that are softened with a touch of gray or brown; botanical greens rather than vibrant gem tones. A few popular paint companies are predicting brighter greens – like green apple or grass colors – but I think the ones that work best are ones mixed into dark neutral palettes to create a very relaxed, earthy feel. While Greenery is sooo last year (and Emerald is for the history books), the popularity of deeper, earthier shades of green in 2018 is just a marker of one trend that isn’t going anywhere: the desire for more natural (and eco-friendly!) surroundings and a more nature-oriented interior design.