One of my favorite (intentional? unintentional?) meta moments in recent years comes in the form of a Behr paint color named Flipper. Guess what color it is? Yep, you guessed it: Gray.
A little over a decade ago, gray took over the world of home design, partially because of the passionate adherents it found in real estate flippers. When it first caught on as an interior paint color, gray looked new in comparison to the beiges and off-whites that had previously constituted a neutral color scheme.
Over the ensuing years, however, its ubiquity has made gray look tired, dated and overly safe. Most people seem to hate it, but everyone’s afraid to use anything else for fear of taking too much of a risk. This is especially true for sellers, who have been conditioned to believe that buyers won’t even look at a non-gray space.
When I moved last year, the worst thing about my new home was the fact that every single room and hallway had been painted the same dull gray, and all of the kitchen and bath surfaces were a boring white-with-gray marble. Fortunately, the flooring is a somewhat normal walnut color; gray-washed wood flooring would have been a bridge too far.
I don’t have the budget to re-do the whole house at once, so I’m adding color where I can. The living room was the first paint job. It is now a cheerful deep coral. I painted the main entry hall a dramatic charcoal. It makes an awesome background for the artwork hanging there.
Since the dining room connects to the kitchen, I didn’t want to add color in one room and not the other. I went for bright curtains, rug and table linens to warm up the vast expanse of gray.
Now, instead of being overwhelming and gloomy, the gray is working as it was meant to originally: As a subtle background to deliberate pops of colors throughout the home. I’ll probably eventually replace it with a less played-out neutral, but for now, it’s livable.
2023 paint colors of the year
Design takes its cue, in many cases, from paint colors. That’s the first place we start to see shifts, mostly because it’s a low-cost, low-commitment place for people to try out color trends.
A lot of the minimalist design of recent years has emphasized even more neutrals like white, black and gray. Now, however, we’re seeing a wholesale repudiation of this bland aesthetic from many of the major paint manufacturers. Here are their 2023 colors of the year:
Benjamin Moore describes this shade as “a vivacious shade of coral tinged with pink.” It’s deep and bold and serves as the perfect backdrop for all of that white, black, gray and beige furniture that’s already in your seller’s space, while completely updating it.
For those who are not going to get carried away by this year’s bright color schemes, Behr offers a white that it calls “a hopeful and welcoming white with limitless possibilities.” If you’re suggesting that your clients neutralize their space, and you’re avoiding gray, this is the color to send them.
In both paint and wallpaper, Graham & Brown chose this rich, spicy shade of deep auburn. The company took its inspiration from “the pigment derived from the Rubia plant species historically used as dye throughout the world.” This color is ideal for bold, eclectic styles but still offers a neutral-enough color profile to work in a variety of interior spaces.
If you’re looking for a sweet spot between the bold reddish-pinks that are working overtime this year and something a little more neutral, this is the one. Redend Point is described as “a mid-tone neutral that walks the line between blush and beige.” It reads like a rich taupe and looks elegant and sophisticated. Yet, for those who are updating with bolder colors, it blends well with popular reds, pinks and corals.
“Greige” should be the word of the year for 2023 since it appears in so many discussions of options for getting away from all-gray all-the-time interiors. Dutch Boy went all-in on the trend, describing their greige as “a versatile neutral that brings harmony and contentment home.” It blends beautifully with practically any color scheme but still looks fresh since it’s not quite gray.
This deep-hued rosy pink is inspired, as its name suggests, by terra cotta or, as Dunn-Edwards describes it, a “high-chroma cinnamon rose.” It looks fresher than burgundy or brown but still reads like a neutral, especially in flatter finishes.
Other colors to note in 2023
Pantone is, in many ways, the arbiter of colorways for everyone else, so it’s no surprise that their 2023 choice has had such an outsized impact. Their Viva Magenta is “inspired by the red of cochineal, one of the most precious dyes belonging to the natural dye family as well as one of the strongest and brightest the world has known,” according to the rollout announcement.
Updating a space can be as simple as spray painting a piece of furniture or other interior feature. Krylon’s color this year is a deep, dark green they describe as “rooted in the renewing power of green, [so] it can balance with both warm and cool accents.” Here again, this is a natural blend with the pinks and corals you see in many of this year’s trend lists, though mixing it with red might read too literally as Christmassy.
Everyone has been talking about the upcoming Barbie movie since the first sneak-peek photos dropped in April 2022. Recently, attention escalated after a worldwide shortage of Rosco’s fluorescent pink paint was traced to the production’s outsized requirements. Watch for this to go on trending as the film continues to gain attention prior to its release, currently scheduled for July 21, 2023.