Color trends for 2018

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Feature



Choice, Or Not. You Choose

Think of color choice in terms of grocery shopping. Some stores give you tons of brands, sizes, and flavors so you can get “exactly” what you need. But with so many variations of bread, olives, or pasta, who knows if you’ll get “exactly” the right thing or you’ll come home to a chorus of “that’s not what I meant?” Some stores, usually lower priced grocers, have one brand of everything, two if you’re lucky. You want olives, take this brand in this size because that’s what there is.

So while paint companies offer lots and lots of colors (as well they should), many of them are also narrowing it down for customers right at the starting gate. Obviously some customers will want to start with 3,000 colors, but others will sit more comfortably with 30. Unlike groceries, you don’t need to go cheap to get your choice of choices. But just like groceries, they’ll want colors that won’t “go bad” all too soon.



Refined Pigments for Refined Customers

Emmett Fiore, senior color strategist at Fine Paints of Europe, tells us that the company’s new Color Concierge is designed, destined, and determined to take the stress out of color choice. Like that helpful staff member at an upscale hotel, the concierge can direct customers towards the time of (or in this case, the color of) their life. “Color Concierge is a new palette of 120 perfectly balanced shades that come to life on your walls,” he said. “Time and time again, these shades have delighted our customers and looked gorgeous.”

Color choice is more than just picking a chip off a rack, he reminded us. Along with the rack, everyone and everything has to weigh in. Friends, family, spouses, kids (“I hate that color!”) social media, TV, you name it, all has do’s and don’ts of color. If you do a don’t, then what?


“With Color Concierge, you can relax, knowing that any of these shades will create an environment you’ll love,” Fiore said. “As a collection, these harmonious hues flow seamlessly from room to room and pair beautifully with a wide variety of other colors.” Because of that, he added, your customers will enjoy painting (or hiring it out) and not be nervous the whole time that the color won’t work.

Let’s say they like it. Awesome! Amazing! Dance like you scored a touchdown at the Super Bowl. “When all goes well, choosing colors is one of life’s most tangible, gratifying experiences,” Fiore noted. “Because we use ultra-refined pigments, Fine Paints colors shine and hold their vibrancy for generations. To build a contemporary palette with universal appeal and finesse, we consulted with experts, both in-house and industry-wide. Though tried and true, our core collection sparkles with elegance, serenity, mystery, and even a touch of whimsy.”

Color makes a difference, he acknowledged. “That’s why we’ve assembled this group of colors: to enhance wellbeing. The Color Concierge palette will help homeowners make confident color choices that last!”

Thanks to Fine Paints, we found out that the moon isn’t made of green cheese, it’s made of Silk. From this same collection, Silky Moonlight (RAL 9016) shines day and night as the company’s Color of the Year. “It’s a mesmerizing serene white with a contemporary vibe,” they describe. Customers who choose it might just be over the moon, with or without a jumping cow.




A Shift in the Atmosphere

Diamond Vogel picked four Color of the Year candidates, then asked its customers to choose a winner. Atmospheric Pressure (0587) came to the gala in a stunning light blue and won top honors. Use it inside, outside, as an accent—if it’s a color of the year you can imagine it’s a good fit both as a main color and as part of a larger scheme.

“Atmospheric Pressure couples easily with popular styles including mid-century, coastal, industrial chic, and modern farmhouse,” says the company’s markeing manager Sandy Agar-Studelska. “It is a shift from the popular grays, but it still speaks to our search for soft, ethereal color that is easy to use in open concept interiors,” she describes. “It can be paired with popular grays, charcoals, and blacks that have been a mainstay in accessories and furniture.”

For exterior settings, she recommends homeowners use the color as a front door accent, delivering feelings of calm and abundance that extend to their guests.
If this isn’t quite what your customers are looking for, you can always steer them to the runners up, as they are also trending colors for 2018.


The Great Beyond

What’s great about the Beyond is that it’s right here in the form of Pratt and Lambert’s 2018 color forecast, which draws inspiration from today’s cultural influences across fashion, technology, travel, art and home décor. The palettes in this system are designed to help your customers get there—beyond, that is—beyond where they’ve taken color before. Most folks will appreciate that; imagine sending them home with a color they love rather than a color they settle on.

But “beyond” is an assessment that can have as many meanings as your grocer has olives. How does P&L define it? “It’s the overarching story of our four trend palettes. Each trend story has a theme of searching beyond what we currently know in our everyday,” said Senior Designer Ashley Banbury. “In Diverge we are seeking new worlds to colonize. In Boundless we are looking to create our own story and identity. In Synthesize we are seeking ways to improve our everyday lives for community and ourselves. Finally, in Intention we are trying to seek reprieve from our everyday life to create a more happy and healthy lifestyle.”

How does that help you? Learn these trends and what they represent, then in conversation with the customer, ask questions about the space they are painting and the feeling they want to evoke, Banbury suggests. It could be they want a specific feeling in a space and want your help finding the color to achieve it. “Using our trend information and brochure can help you direct your customer to freshen up any space!” she said. “Each one of the color palettes has a supporting trend story and design esthetic. A color card is designed to help guide the customer to the right color palette for them, with the help of photos and short palette description.” If you have an understanding of each palette and the design style that it evokes, she said, you can help guide a customer towards success.

The word—well, two to be exact—from P&L is “color story,” the idea is that each customer has their own story to tell, and these palettes can help fill the pages. Again, “What are you trying to say” in your space, rather than “what color do you want” might just be the question to encourage them to look Beyond.



At Peace with Blue

If color choice is still stressing a customer out, they can calm down with Heron, Pratt & Lambert’s Color of the Year. “In our search for serenity in today’s dynamic and often hectic world, we found Heron (27-18), our 2018 Color of the Year. It offers calm, tranquility and adaptability, allowing it to transform an ordinary space into a sanctuary that truly showcases the power of color,” said Banbury.

Found within Intention, Heron offers the calming effect that is sought out in daily life. It is a versatile blue that provides creative individuals, from interior designers to architects and design-savvy homeowners, an opportunity to create tranquil spaces in styles ranging from traditional to contemporary. In functional spaces like living rooms, this statement blue gives a subtle visual impact with an aura of relaxation. It inspires unplugging and spending more quality time with family and friends.

Heron mixes well with crisp whites, soft grays and metallics and can be paired with materials such as whitewashed wood, burlap, concrete, terracotta and glazed pottery to further inspire relaxed living spaces. People will tell you they want to “slow down,” right after they check all their social media because something might have happened five minutes ago that they missed. But let’s say they look up from their pads and phones…Heron might help them move towards a bit more peace, Banbury noted. “We have become a society that is constantly plugged in. With laptops, Wi-Fi and cell phones we don’t clock out of our 9-5 jobs anymore,” she said. “People are seeking a way to have a digital detox, creating a serene quiet environment within their home balances the calm from the everyday chaos. Incorporating calm colors that can be found in nature­—that are reminiscent of the sea and sky—are great ways to create your own personal retreat in your home.”

One more question we had for a Ashley: how do you decide how many color trends? Seems like more often that not it’s four, but, she tells us, that’s not really the case. “The number of trend palettes may change from year to year; it’s about giving an overall view of global trends representing the trend stories that our customers can relate to. The trend stories are always building off one another; it’s about telling an ever-evolving story from year to year.”

Pratt & Lambert’s Palettes

Intention inspires us to live with a mindset that is thoughtful and restful. Less is more in Intention, as homeowners decorate spaces that evoke memories of past experiences. Interiors are calm, decluttered and tranquil with soft and airy hues of gray and pink. The colors of this palette can be used to create spaces that bring tranquility and relaxation. This trend is where we find Heron, Pratt & Lambert’s 2018 Color of the Year.

Diverge takes inspiration from the exploration of new worlds. Minimalistic colors and clean lines merge for a simple yet impactful design and interiors are modest—often featuring neutral colors. These neutrals are not always light in level, but can be deep and enveloping. The Diverge color palette features gray-greens that represent rare earth metals that are reflective of celestial violets. Neutrals like dune and smoke also play well in this otherworldly palette.

Boundless offers limitless possibilities, as it is a palette that provides consumers the opportunity to author their own design stories. Driven by uncategorized and authentic storytelling, the Boundless palette is energetic and colorful, merging neutrals with unexpected pops of color. This trend showcases bright hues like true red, cherry and orange that stands out against neutrals like greige and cream.

Synthesize brings color to represent the humanized version of technology. This story features vivid colors used to re-energize natural patterns allowing colors to blend, blur and bleed into one another. Interiors combine punches of color with patterns and texture. This palette includes hues inspired by fields of green and gold, violets, teals and brilliant reds that stand out against gunmetal and steel blues.


Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

Dunn-Edwards’ color of the year takes us back to 19th century France, and since we can’t time travel yet, we’ll be happy to paint up history on our walls and keep our plumbing and electricity. “Known throughout French history as l’heure verte, ‘The Green Hour’ is described as the 5-o’clock hour or twilight, when bistros and cafés were filled with patrons, and absinthe was the drink of choice,” the company narrates. “Absinthe grew in popularity in the 1840s when French troops were served the drink. By the 1860s, it was so popular in French cafes, bistros and cabarets that it became known as The Green Hour. While the drink color is a more vivid green, Dunn-Edwards’ version evokes the time and era.”

Sara McLean, color expert and stylist for Dunn-Edwards, shared several observations on where color is going in 2018:

Pinks continue to push forward and are now acting as neutrals. With the paradigm shift to pink as a gender-neutral option, it adds another color into the neutrals family to produce an even wider range of design choices. Pink’s popularity also puts hue variations—such as mauve and rose, as well as a deep, warm red or Bordeaux hue—into the spotlight.

• With Pantone’s recent announcement highlighting Ultra Violet as its 2018 Color of the Year, purple is solidly confirmed as a trend highlight this year. Midtone lavender will be increasing its presence in product lines throughout the year.

• Cobalt leads the charge for blues. This strong statement of color adds punch to décor and highlights a mini-trend. Add a bright red and vivid Gen Z yellow, plus black and white, to complete this palette. In other areas of blue, denim blues and warm blues trend up.

• Green in deep values is prevalent this year, elevating its status as a key color. With a nod to our 2018 Color of the Year, The Green Hour, the evolution of greens from the aforementioned deep values to brighter greens like Kelly green and warmer greens such as olive, cements its trend status this year.

• Oranges and tans are trending in terracotta and clay ranges, with a subtle, pink undertone as a nod to the pink trend. The downshifting of orange values to browner and pinker tones reflects the increased interest in American West and Southwest color and design. Clay is being paired up with warm blues and cobalt.



Color on Fire

Is there such a thing as picking the wrong color? Well yes, but it all depends how you define “wrong.” Wrong to who? We like to talk about people who pick colors to satisfy their Aunt Martha who comes over once a year at Mayfest, or people who paint for the next homeowners, who are so worried about selling their home they forget to live in it. You can help customers enjoy their lives, but if they still have trouble picking a color, knowing what paint companies name as a color of the year can certainly make them feel comfortable that someone agrees with their choice.

PPG went with what some people might see as “against the grain” by naming Black Flame as its 2018 king. But given current trends in color, home décor, and society in general, it’s not as bizarre as all that. It’s a great place to start, and its crowning by PPG has certainly made black an easier sell. “Bringing a color to the surface from the more than 1,000 colors in the PPG Paints palette always generates interest and favorability,” said Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager. It wasn’t like they pull the color out of a hat. It’s at least a year-long discussion, and the announcement is a can’t miss event for the PPG color staff!

“Everything from tile, granite, textures, and woods influence color selections,” said Schlotter. “At PPG, as we select the color of the year, we look closely at the materials industries to make sure our color of the year and other color trends will resonate with professionals and consumers. This year’s selection has certainly been confirmed. Black home décor is also enhancing the color’s popularity and increasing wall color coordination.”



This also speaks to a heightened interest in darker colors across the board, and again, for customers afraid of the dark, if this isn’t a stamp of approval, we’re not sure what higher authority we can appeal to. “While some are still nervous to use dark paint colors, more and more we are seeing dark colors used as an accent to add an element of drama or elegance to their décor,” Schlotter observed. “For instance, dark colors like Black Flame look beautiful on window frames or door trim. I always encourage customers to try it—they are often surprised how pleased they are with the results.”

Black Flame was announced in Summer 2017, so Schlotter has had plenty of time to gauge the success as well as see how it works as some unusual accents. “One of the most interesting places we have seen it is on interior doors,” she said. “These can be closet or room doors or a door that leads to the exterior of the home, with a different color on the outside of the door. The interior door has become the new accent wall and Black Flame provides notice and weight.”

You can take it outside as well, for a dramatic yet natural feel. “Another trending place to feature this color is the exterior body of the home; it is super modern and classic at the same time. Also, in some settings, blackened hues help to quiet the house against a backdrop that is filled with trees and nature.”

Back inside, she adds, many homeowners paint up Black Flame as an accent in their bedroom on the wall behind their beds. “It is a truly gorgeous concept. Dark-colored bathrooms are also gaining popularity,” she noted. Color, overall, is growing up. “Over the last couple of years, we have seen more mature hues, including grays and colored naturals, used in nurseries. Now, we see even more modern, gender-neutral colors being included, which pairs well with trendy, black nursery bedding.”

Summing it up, this is a color that, believe it or not, even Aunt Martha, and even the next homeonwers, might enjoy. “Yes, Black Flame is a meditative, private color, but is also a neutral. Customers enjoy the classic appeal it brings to their home, while still offering the solace they need and crave.” If she likes it, Aunt Martha must just show up that much more often!


Choose Wisely

They still can’t decide? PPG’s Dee Schlotter offered the following are suggestions to help make the process simpler and help your customers get better results:

• Prior to selecting a paint color, it is important to first select new or consider existing flooring, fabrics and window treatments. Once these elements are considered, a complementary tone can be selected from the other colors in the room or home’s palette. Customers can consider several paint swatches that will coordinate or complement the colors within décor items.

• Rather than holding small paint swatches up against a wall, hold them next to furniture, flooring and window treatments for a visual of how the paint will appear in the space against these elements. Customers can order free 8″ x 8″ sample sheets in any PPG Paints color at

• Once they’ve narrowed down the color selection, they should paint a 2′ by 2′ swatch on the walls to see the colors against different lighting throughout the day and evening.



Wow, Red!

Red. Wow, because red’s often been kind of controversial—wait, no kind of about it—and on a lot of people’s “not” lists. In just a couple years, Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year has gone from Simple White to Caliente (AF-290), a vibrant, charismatic shade of red. Nothing wimpy or dithering here! “Strong, radiant and full of energy, Caliente is total confidence. It is pleasing, passionate, and makes people feel special, like a red carpet treatment,” said Ellen O’Neill, Benjamin Moore director of strategic design intelligence. “Whether used as one note or on four walls, the spirted personality of red turns heads, signaling surprise and adventure. They can’t help but follow its bold strokes.”



Caliente leads the way of the 23 colors in the company’s Color Trends 2018, which includes a full spectrum of reds that can be paired with a carefully selected range of whites, neutrals, and complimentary bold hues.

Like most companies, Benjamin Moore isn’t dictating what people should use as much as reporting on what’s going on. In the “we want your job” department, the selection of the color of the year took a team of seven color and design experts to 30 cities across 12 countries, traveling nearly 100,000 miles. They attended industry shows and captured and studied over 42,000 photos that illustrated points of inspiration from arts, design, architecture, pop culture, fashion, furnishing, and more. From all of this, they found an emergence of red hues. “These embody the change, strength, confidence and vitality that permeates culture movements around the world.” Share the Color Trends 2018 color card with customers and show them the impact of red in creating statement-making environments that are warm, enveloping, and full of personality. Red is more than just “side of a barn!”



California Trending—Q&A with Daniele Martin at California Paints (ICP Construction) on colors for 2018.

Does California Paints have a color of the year?
California Paints does not have a color of the year, but we offer 30 curated trend colors, which are available for view on our digital fandeck at


Do you have any new color tools for your dealers?
California Paints offers an assortment of color tools to help consumers, architects and designers make their color selections, including fandecks, color albums, and architect kits. Our new digital fandeck, also gives users the ability to view hundreds of colors from all California Paints’ palettes, including the Historic and 20th Century color collections, in different room scenes.


How can dealers help customers make the most of their color selection?
Choosing a color that fits with the customer’s personality and taste is key. Some customers might also find that painting an accent wall will appeal more to their personal taste, versus having a whole room done. However, we find that, as with any color selection process, it is important to help the customer understand that colors look different in different rooms and at different times of the day, so getting test samples prior to painting a room is very helpful step. California Paints quart samples are available at most authorized dealers and are a great tool for this kind of project.

What are some colors trends and pairings to look for in 2018?
Blues and warm grays are still very popular and are being carried over from 2017’s palettes into 2018; however, grays will be gravitating more towards warmer tones, with hits of red. These combinations include California Paints Inspirations Star-Studded (0620) Place of Dust (0539) and Sparrow (0554). Remember that many people feel the need to look for an escape from the chaos that surrounds them. With that in mind, colors that evoke balance will dictate the direction for 2018. Calming blueish greens, like North Beach Blue (0485), will become more solidified in the market.