2020 Color Forecast: Calm & Renewal

The major paint companies have made their picks for the coming year’s “it” color, and they all communicate some common vibes.

By Nicole Davis

It’s that time of year when the design world is abuzz with 2020 Color of the Year announcements. Four of the major paint companies Sherwin-Williams, Behr, PPG, and Benjamin Moore – have named their picks, and one thing is clear: The common theme is the promotion of calmness and restoration.

Blue is a perennial favorite for many products, including home décor, so it’s no surprise that two shades of this hue made the cut this year — Sherwin-Williams’ Naval and PPG’s Chinese Porcelain. According to Michelle Lamb, trend forecaster and Editorial Director of The Trend Curve, going into 2020, two factors support these choices.

Behr: Back to Nature
Behr named a yellow-hued green – called Back to Nature – as its 2020 color pick. “As nature’s favorite color, Back to Nature is a restorative and revitalizing green hue that engages the senses and pairs well with other colors both inside and outside your home,” says Behr. Described as calm, gracious, and balanced, this color embraces the spirit of discovery.

The first is a return to Asian style. “A key signature of this style is blue-and-white combinations, seen in floral patterns, lattice motifs, and Shibori prints. Navy, porcelain blue, and cobalt are all right for these looks,” Lamb states.

“At the same time,” she continues, “the market has seen the first hints of a retreat from black. What is taking its place? Early signs are pointing to dark blues, like Naval and Chinese Porcelain.”

Sherwin-Williams: Naval
Sherwin-Williams has named Naval (SW 6244) as its choice for 2020 Color of the Year. This is a rich navy hue that “creates a calm and grounding environment infused with quiet confidence,” according to the company.
Reasons for this choice?
Navy is coming out of its comfort zone with you, says Sherwin-Williams. 2020 is an empowering year of change that focuses on bringing your best self into the new decade. The next 10 years pave the way for wellness of the mind, body, and soul — a clean palette for self-nurturance. Also, with a nod to Art Deco influences, Naval fuses the striking and bold opulence of Art Deco with this awe‑inspiring power of nature.

Green is a close runner-up to blue when it comes to popularity, especially when considering the interest in all things “eco.”

“A green that embraces its yellow side, like Behr’s Back to Nature, is a perfect fit for the growing number of autumnal palettes that trade fairs like Maison & Objet suggest are coming on strong for 2020,” Lamb explains. “Watch for this color in combination with a growing number of browns, rusted oranges, berry and burgundy tones, purples, and golds.” She also notes that the perfect foil to all of this warmth is, coincidently, dark blue.

Benjamin Moore’s pick of First Light, a light wash of pink, is also a great pairing for dark blue. “There’s no question that pastel values have been on a roll since the emergence of Millennial Pink a few years ago,” Lamb says. “Benjamin Moore’s selection of First Light as their Color of the Year conveys a message that pale pink will continue in a basic role, even after the Millennial Pink trend is over.”


Benjamin Moore: First Light
Benjamin Moore named First Light (2102-70), a faint pink shade, as its 2020 Color of the Year.
Calling it a “soft, rosy hue blooming with potential,” this choice “is the backdrop for a bright new decade,” says the company. The 10 harmonious hues of Benjamin Moore’s Color Trends 2020 palette, including First Light, deliver modern paint color pairings that combine optimism with understatement, a timeless way to uplift and lighten up.

For manufacturers in the lighting industry, the interpretation of these choice colors may not be literal, like them ending up as a finish on a fixture. It’s more about understanding how the color would interact with their product line, which is commonly painted in neutral or metallic.

“With the ‘Colors of the Year,’ I need to understand the general timbre of the tones suggested,” explains Jeff Dross, Corporate Director, Education & Industry Trends at Kichler. “Those colors will have some sort of theme that helps me understand the overall direction of interior design. These colors of the year set a tone from which trends grow.”

Why Should Showrooms Care?

Although Colors of the Year may not show up in much lighting, knowing about – and applying – this trend intel is still important for the retail lighting channel.

“While your core assortment generally represents more SKUs on the floor and more dollars in the register than trend assortments, trend is what draws the eye and brings shoppers in,” Lamb says.

“When paint companies announce their Color of the Year choice, they take that message to consumers, who embrace it as important guidance for their décor,” she explains. “When shopping, they’re on the lookout for those colors. If showrooms do not represent Naval, Chinese Porcelain, First Light, and Back to Nature in some way, shoppers will be disappointed. And further, they may assume that the showroom is not up-to-date on important trends.”

One sure-fire way to ensure that your showroom is viewed as a valuable trend resource is via display. According to Lamb, using trend merchandise in vital display areas (such as a window or impact area at the entrance) makes a statement about not only what products can be found inside, but also the trend positioning shoppers can expect when they enter. “No trend product in your visual display suggests that you have none inside,” Lamb reasons.

Even if it’s just a small display, acknowledging the Colors of the Year in your showroom merchandising can set you apart. 

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