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A Look at Decorating with Color: 2008-2018

06 May 2018
Kevin Hartley
A Look at Decorating with Color: 2008-2018

A Look at Decorating with Color: 2008-2018

By Max Wilker, Style Director for Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corp.

When you think back to the past decade of houses you’ve spent time in, color is one of things you remember…sometimes fondly, sometimes not. As Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate celebrates 10 years of success in 2018, I took a glance back at the interiors featured in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens® magazines starting with the August 2008 issue. Oh, how wall paint colors have changed over the years! Wall color is one of the design foundations of a room yet it’s one of the most changeable, trend-responsive parts of a room’s look.

Here’s a year-by-year study of how paint color has changed in the span of BHGRE’s first 10 years. How many of these trends do you remember, or used to have in your home? Or are you still living with a past trend palette and calling it “vintage” or “classic” – which is OK if it is really what you love. Let this look-back inspire you to look forward to your next color change.


2008: Beige was the word

Everyone gravitated towards a safe beige wall color for interiors: sun-kissed tan, woodland fawn, deep crème…or whatever nifty name designers called it to make themselves seem hip at the time. And then for accent? More shades of beige were layered on almost every surface in the room.





2009: For the love of chocolate

…chocolate brown, that is. It was one modern step away from tan yet stayed safely in the same color family. It truly was the “in thing” as decorators went crazy with deep chocolate brown walls, furniture, and fabrics. The key was to find a contrasting accent color to pair with the chocolate brown. In 2009, a golden yellow was the popular choice.




2010: Chocolate + one

As decorators looked to elevate the deep luscious shades of brown, they turned to soften it up with shades of pink, orange, or green. This helped make a room feel both masculine and feminine. Brown became the quiet background of the room and it let the other colors pop forward in the décor.

2011: Chocolate and pale blue

When pink wasn’t an option for the man of the house, pale shades of blue stepped up to marry chocolate brown. This iconic color combination ruled with its classic yet trendy looks. It became the most popular combination of “chocolate + one.”

2012: Chocolate with green and orange

Each year, designers brought out new colorways to keep the chocolate brown fresh in the consumers’ eyes since there was still a love for it. In 2012, citrus green and coral orange were brought in to be bold accents to accompany chocolate brown.


2013: Enjoy nature’s “near neutrals”

Shades of pale blue and citrus green stayed in style as the adoration of chocolate brown started to fade. “Grayeige” happened as rooms were being designed to blend brown and gray together in the same room. It was a key time for manufactures to develop fabrics, rugs, towels and other products for the home that successfully showcased a marriage of grays and browns in a singular product design.


2014: Transition from beige to gray

For the past couple of years, grays were quietly popping up in the decor mix. Finally, shades of gray took over as consumers looked for a change away from nature’s beige color palette to something new with a fresh, modern twist. Pattern play was key to freshen up a mixed palette of gray, brown, and blue.

2015: Gray, gray, and more gray

An obsession hit the decorating world as everything turned to shades of gray. The most popular were shades on the cool side with a fresh hint of blue to the color. Beyond the walls, fabrics went gray with modern patterns as consumers looked to transition their home from classic to a little more contemporary. Accent colors were bold but used in smaller doses. The Better Homes and Gardens magazine 2015 Color Palette of the Year featured a strong gray as the anchor accompanied by robust accent colors, clearly showing that gray was here to stay.

2016: Gray and white as calming neutrals

Relaxing and soothing designs were trending strong for interiors in 2016. Consumers wanted to rest and not be distracted by bold walls inside their homes. Wall color trends moved to very pale shades of grays and white. Accent colors of yellow or hot pink were trendy and provided contrast to this movement of softer wall colors.

2017: Neutrals slide to seaside blues and farmhouse whites

Soft shades of calming blues were a hit as everyone wanted to adopt a range of blues into their home décor palettes. Plus, textures started to build on walls as white or white-washed shiplap gained exposure and popularity, and reclaimed woods began to appear on walls and ceilings with the modern farmhouse movement.


2018: Dark hues rule

Navy blue and deep blackened charcoal brought back a boldness as walls are changing, once again, to act as a deep, rich yet neutral backdrop instead of light and airy colors. Deep, saturated wall colors are setting the background for dramatic glamour to shine in furniture and accent décor.

Color trends are always interesting to see how they shift and go in cycles. I leave you with one last image. It’s from the February 2018 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It’s a wonderfully rich bedroom with chocolate brown walls. The room is accented with midtones of tan and gold with pops of white for freshness. Plus, a vivid accent of burnt orange. So, do you think chocolate brown is returning as a trend? Follow the pages of our magazine and see what develops!

© Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Thanks for reading. Questions or ideas for a future blog? Feel free to contact me here.

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Kevin Hartley, Broker is a Toronto based real estate Broker with Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate | Signature Service, Brokerage. @Home is his lifestyle blog, an expression of his passion for home keeping though MAKING (Recipes), DOING (DIY), BEING (Health/Wellness) and DWELLING (Home Ownership, Sales & Maintenance).  Content not intended to solicit clients under contract.

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