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Decorator Colors Through the Years

Written by Carla Hill on Monday, 22 August 2011 7:00 pm

Travel back through time and our homes are a kaleidoscope of color. It seems every generation likes to break the rules of the previous decade and experiment with new colors. Color choices are a response to social and cultural, as well as economic factors.

In the fifties, science introduced new home materials and bright colors were easier to produce on a mass scale. Homeowners embraced this trend with open arms.

According to Kohler, "Expressing optimism for America's continuing prosperity, fashion and interior design led the way with a palette full of "pretty pastels" that were far removed from the drabs of the war years. The exuberance of the late 1950s also showed itself in such striking colors as turquoise, chartreuse and flamingo pink."

The 1960's was marked by a rebellion against the status quo. The hippie movement held hands with the psychedelic journey and popular colors of the day tell that story. While earthy elements were popular, new colors like "blueberry, Citron, Antique Red, Coppertone, Expresso, and Jade" were introduced by such companies as Kohler.

The 1970's saw browns, golds, and green (can anyone say avocado?) that reflected a re-emergence of interest in the environment and in the Southwest.

The 1980's found itself in a recession, where interest rates rose to nearly 20 percent. People turned to home for comfort and country became chic once more. Feminine colors, such as mauve, plum, country blue, and seafoam found their way into everything from counters to carpets.

The 1990's were a time of robust economy. Cities sprawled out into large master-planned suburban communities and with this fast growth came HOA's and restrictions on color choices. Planning allowed communities to maintain their uniformity. Taupe, tan, and other mild colors made their way into homes across the nation.

Today's colors also reflect both an ailing economy and a connection to the world as a whole. The recession of 2009 caused many homeowners to reconsider where they lived and how they spent their money. Many homeowners found themselves upside down in loans and instead of selling, chose to make updates to their current home. There has been a return to more subdued, simple palettes of white and creams.

Modern sensibilities and splashes of global brights have made their way into the mainstream. Cobalt blue, blacks, and rich greens make up today's cool palette. Sand, yellow orange, and a soft red play the warm palette's roles.

Stainless steel is seen in everything from stoves, fridges, and appliances to counter tops and backsplashes.

Decorators aren't afraid of colors, but it is always used in moderation. The themed rooms of the 1980's, where every inch of a bathroom was mauve from the tile and paint to fixtures, are out. Today, you'll find a subtle red accent in a set of pans or on an accent wall.

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