Bold & Beautiful

Breaking out of the neutral funk, color predictions for 2018 and beyond include saturated brights and moody, rich darks that will give kitchens and baths distinctive style.

AUTHORS Anita Shaw 

The statement “Teal is the new black,” heard at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show this past January, may have left more than a few people scratching their heads. But, it turns out, that declaration was an on-target observation of emerging color trends. And, while teal isn’t necessarily the specific direction for residential color in 2018, it’s what teal represents that is: rich, deep colors that add drama and work in tandem with the elements of the overall design.

“I think we will see more saturated colors and – dare I say it – some jewel tones, in 2018,” reports Cheryl Kees Clendenon, owner, In Detail Interiors in Pensacola, FL. She confirms that there is a move away from the super-pale colors of just two years ago.

Andrea Magno, color and design expert for Benjamin Moore in Montvale, NJ, agrees. “We are seeing a shift toward warmer colors and even bolder colors after a long stretch of cool and pale hues,” she states. “People are interested in brightening things up with color by incorporating more saturated yet easy-to-live-with hues for 2018.”


Why is the industry experiencing such a dramatic shift from pale to intense regarding color? Many factors play into color influences, including confidence in the economy, a desire to take more risks and, of course, fashion trends.

“I honestly think the shift occurs organically – meaning that it’s just time for a change,” notes Clendenon. “But, fashion always influences design, and the runway was showing many super-saturated colors this year.”

“Interior trends are often a reaction to what’s come before,” adds Susan Rayner, principal, Susan Rayner Interiors in Chicago, IL. “So now that whites, neutrals and soft grays have been around for a while, we’re seeing a move toward deeper, more intense shades.”

Mark Woodman, president of the Color Marketing Group in Alexandria, VA, believes there are two important drivers – the need to relax and reset, and the desire to express individuality in a bold, exciting way.

“The endless barrage of news, messages, time demands, etc. – though not new – are nevertheless demanding more of us all the time,” he offers. “At the same time, the undercurrent of standing up for ourselves, making a statement, showing the world who we are, requires a bolder statement.”

To those ends, a collection of colors that range from contemplative, toned hues that are an evolution from the grays, such as aged lavender and dusky blue, to bold, expressive colors like red and cobalt that add pops of vitality, offer options of individuality, he explains.

“They are hues of which we’re aware but haven’t taken the steps to embrace,” Woodman continues. “In the uncertain, confusing moments of late, our simple looks have carried us through, but now it’s time to create moments of quiet, or raucous joy, to make personal statements.”

In addition to the dusky and bold tones mentioned, Woodman sees grayed espresso brown, orange, grown-up grape and all variations of green as important to design in 2018.

“‘Greige’ seems to have reached its trending peak in cooler hues,” reports Lauren West, manager, Global Color and Design Center, The Sherwin-Williams Co. in Cleveland, OH. “Instead, we’re seeing more saturated blues and soft greens emerging for the future.”

“I’m seeing a lot of deep shades of blues and greens in particular,” concurs Rayner. She believes mid-tone colors will also be popular – “think mint or moss greens, aquas and teals. And neutrals will morph from soft grays to charcoals and even black.”

Indeed, black in various forms is taking center stage in the kitchen, and at PPG. “This upcoming year, black is the new neutral that is trending in building materials and interior looks,” states Dee Schlotter, senior color marketing manager for PPG Olympic and PPG Paints in Pittsburgh, PA.

PPG’s paint brands – Glidden, Olympic and PPG – all chose dark, black-based hues as their 2018 Colors of the Year.

“Our societal craving for privacy is the catalyst to being consumed by technology and pressured to overshare via social media,” notes Schlotter. “PPG’s research showed some consumers want to balance this social obligation by hiding portions of their personal life from the public eye.”


But, exactly how will saturated colors and jewel tones translate to the kitchen and bath specifically?

For the more daring, cabinets in rich shades and appliances in eye-popping colors make a dramatic statement in the kitchen. The less adventurous use these same tones on walls and in accent pieces that can be changed out as tastes and trends evolve.

The idea of the bath as a sanctuary somewhat restricts the use of bright colors, which is why black, intense browns and navy tones play well here. Still, for those willing to take a risk, or for powder rooms designed to make a statement, color can provide a powerful punch.

Clendenon sees a range of rich colors making their way to the kitchen and bath in 2018, including ochre, eggplant, raisin, gray-browns, deep teal and persimmon. Even in coastal areas, where pale tones are often the go-to choice, colors are shifting, with dark corals gaining attention and ever-popular citron and aqua becoming more saturated.

Design style also dictates colors used, according to Sara McLean, specs+spaces editor, Dunn-Edwards in Los Angeles. For a glamorous kitchen or bath, rich jewel tones are paired with soft, velvety colors, along with brass, dark woods, leather and cut glass for a touch of opulence.

“For a kitchen or bath inspired by health and well-being lifestyles, a nature-inspired color palette is key,” McLean reports. “Rich and natural hues, highlights of springtime and sun-drenched colors, provide the base. Cabinetry and other wood finishes are timeworn.”

For tech-savvy homeowners, “pastels are layered with lacquer and glow, while dense colors look to the 1980s for a retro- futuristic flair. Other color ideas include all-white, sleek and shiny kitchens with one vivid color as the highlight throughout in hardware, faucets, appliances and accessories,” she states.

Finally, for those who seek designs with a global influence, color is deep and dense, “with a range of hues found in nature such as reds, emerald greens, amber, lava black and mystic purple,” she concludes.

The Farmhouse look is bringing reds and blues to the forefront, according to Schlotter.

Indeed, Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year – Caliente – is a fiery red that works with this style, among others. Misty Yeomans, color marketing manager for PPG’s Glidden in Pittsburgh, PA, notes that pairing soft blues with black tones also works in bringing the farmhouse look to life.


According to West, her company’s research reveals that color is making a comeback in kitchen cabinets and appliances. “Neutrals are turning warmer, and saturation is stronger in colors here, especially in blue hues. Navy is an excellent example,” she contends.

“I really love that people are now giving themselves permission to do something different in their kitchens and baths,” stresses Rayner. “For a few years now you’ve been seeing splashes of color, particularly blue and green, in areas of otherwise all-white kitchens such as the base of an island. Once people had a greater comfort level with color in the kitchen, the logical next step was painted cabinets in hues other than gray and white, bright and/or patterned backsplashes and flooring.”

Accents such as the Sherwin-Williams color of the year, Oceanside SW 6496 – a rich, seaside blue – provide unexpected pops of color, reports West. “Two tone-kitchen cabinets, where the lower cabinets are dark and the upper cabinets are light or glass front, is a great example,” she says.

“Black adds an unexpected, yet timeless look in the kitchen, particularly on cabinets,” stresses Schlotter. “Incorporating black matte lower cabinets with upper open shelving modernizes the kitchen and adds sophistication and elegance into your cooking space.”

“Overall, I see more play with richer color – not just on the islands, but also on the perimeter cabinetry,” observes McLean. “Richer, deeper colors to more playful pastel colors add more personality to kitchens and baths for those willing to experiment.”

She notes that people are staying in their homes longer, and they’re realizing that playing it safe and always preparing a home for the next buyer doesn’t allow them the ability to enjoy the home they’re living in to the fullest. “Adding some personality to these areas that you see every day adds enjoyment,” she remarks.

And cabinets aren’t the only element in the kitchen getting a color boost. As homeowners react to stainless fatigue for appliances and fittings, they are reaching for statement pieces that bring a bold vision to the design.

“Regarding appliance finishes, can we say color?” remarks Woodman. “This is an area where a full-on color seems to be a great desire.”

He continues, “What started as a bit of retro fun has become a statement piece in appliances. It’s no longer a funky refrigerator, but a range in the roaring color of a Lamborghini. With our neutral kitchens, a key appliance – especially in a bold color – can be the centerpiece of the space.”

And, in keeping with the idea of deep, intense tones and colors, all forms of black stainless – shiny and matte – are everywhere with regard to appliances. They have the unique ability to make a dramatic, modern statement in the design, or blend seamlessly to let other pieces shine.

Regardless of the element chosen as the statement in the kitchen, rich color is the name of the game for 2018.

“Be bold..that is my answer!” concludes Clendenon. ▪

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