The tastefully restrained look hasn’t been dethroned yet. But lately, vibrant colors are staging a comeback.

Share story

For years, the neutral look has reigned in interior design. Beige, gray, straw, light brown — the hues are as pale and cool as a Scandinavian winter. Even accent colors have stayed on the muted side.

The tastefully restrained look hasn’t been dethroned yet. But lately, vibrant colors are staging a comeback, at least in well-chosen accent positions. In the media of paint, metal and textiles, dramatic primary colors are being added like lively grace notes in bathroom fixtures, accent walls, kitchen stools, couch pillows and other small but high-profile places.

“Modern interior decorating color trends mix classy black, white and gray … tones with romantic pink and mysterious light purple colors,” reports the interior-design company Lushome in its assessment of 2016 color trends. One combination it identified was “spring-inspired yellow and green colors with neutral beige and white.”

More dramatic colors are also making inroads, according to Lushome’s assessment: “Deep orange colors … look gorgeous with contrasting black. Peaceful blue and green color combinations, red wine colors, bronze and comfortable brown colors can be mixed into modern interiors.”

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Textiles, formerly stalwarts of the neutral look, are getting colorful, too — and more adventurous. According to House Beautiful magazine, textile designers are beginning to use patterns and colors from indigenous artisans in far-flung parts of the world. “Trending presently is Guatemala, where colorful weaving has been part of the fabric of Mayan life for thousands of years,” House Beautiful reports.

Some designers see bold colors reappearing in metal accents. Rose gold, brass and copper are becoming popular in kitchens and bathrooms, according to London-based interior designer Gemma Gordon-Duff of Gordon-Duff & Linton. She often uses them with marble, wood and other natural materials.

The reappearance of bright colors, even if on the margins of interior home design, can’t come a moment too soon for Shannon Wilkins of Prairie Home Staging and Design in Los Angeles.

“If I see one more white kitchen with a gray counter I will scream,” she says. “People are getting sick of having the same kitchen as everyone else.”

Wilkins is trying to break with the tendency to dress staged homes in a relentlessly neutral (and therefore inoffensive) palette. She is opting for more color and, by implication, a bolder and more personalized statement.

“I stage homes for developers,” she says. “I’m trying to put in globally inspired designs. I love some of the things I see at 503found, such as a hot-pink-and-orange rug. It’s a great store to look at what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

Kim Rodosky, the owner of 503found in Newport Beach, Calif., says a lot of designers are looking for the same accent colors as Wilkins. She believes it’s being driven by a desire for less homogeneity in home design.

“A couple of years ago I started to see brass coming back, and other colors. People are just going away from wanting a home that looks like it was done at a one-stop shop.”

Rodosky says the current color trend, like so many new ideas that seem to take hold instantly, came from social media.

“I think it started on Pinterest and Houzz, where a lot of people go to look for new ideas,” she says. “Right now, I sense people want interiors that have more interest. They don’t want a home where everything ‘goes’ with everything else.”