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What’s here to stay, and here to change? Color Trends. Period.

Color trends? Here, to stay… and here, to change.
It’s that time again, Color Trends are all over the place! Most recently, Pantone reports “Emerald Green” as the latest thing. Green is what I call an “available” color, since because it’s right in the middle of the light-wave spectrum it’s a color most comfortably viewed in many instances. It’s mutable and earthy; inspiring of new life, growth, and positive direction. As a paint color, “green” can be flexible in interiors and can be used in many settings.

Pantone ENERGIZE greens

The Pantone “Energize” green palette

Small World, Indeed
While I don’t have an “emerald green” in the palette, I’ve been delighted to see that many of my own EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint colors  seem to have aligned with some trend colors over the past year. These are from Pantone:

Pantonep palette Nonchalance

What’s my own personal opinion?
While I don’t really have one personal favorite color, I do have a definite point of view. As an architectural color consultant, paint palette designer and rug designer, my viewpoint is threefold.

My own primary, professional focus as a color consultant is a strong belief in supportive color design. Foremost is function, coupled with aesthetics and, in the homes of individual clients, personal color preferences naturally have a role as well.

Where function is concerned, color trends are interesting—and of course they are an indicator of products we’ll be seeing going forward. However using a ‘trendy’ color as a selection simply because it’s “hot” or popular does not serve either my client or myself as the consultant. I always take note of trends but no decision or recommendation I’d ever make is trend-driven.

As a paint palette designer, I’ve created the EcoHues line of Full Spectrum Paints as a 32-color curated palette that serves a variety of purposes. Because each of our colors has no black or gray—even in our muted ‘neutrals’ or most highly saturated colors—they are easy to decorate with. So, many “trend” colors can create interesting harmonies with these richly-colored full spectrum paints as part of a design plan.

In creating the palette style and the actual colors, I’ve been influenced by client requests in both commercial and residential settings.  That request is usually in the form of an expressed feeling. The client desires a particular kind of experience.  A typical kind of request is, for example, “I want a relaxing space, a happy, energizing space, and also something that will complement my furnishings.” So, with that as the impetus, the EcoHues palette includes pale to deep stony neutrals; underwater blues; luminous, ethereal sun-filled yellows; antique-flavored greens; bright blues, and richly warm reds and browns evoking exotic sources.

How do these fit into upcoming trends?
While I agree with others that we’re influenced by the economy and world events, what I see as important in general is something that’s been happening for a while now:  a resurgence in health and well-being beyond today’s blood pressure. Certainly, the deeper aspect of the experiences that we all desire in our color environments is well beyond the transitory nature of “what’s hot” right now or even for the near future.

A quick color trend note
In the world of color and design—in what appeals to us at the deepest level and that will endure well past this year’s colors—is a reference to organic plant and earth sources, natural materials, and textures. As the world becomes culturally smaller and smaller, international flavors will continue in an ongoing appreciation of solid, earthy tones and textures; warm, natural pigment-inspired colors like rusty oranges, paprika and cinnabar reds; brighter, rich hues like Hydrangea and Phoenix Blue, and the deep tones of Mulberry, Nomad and plum.

More EcoHues colors are represented here, too
Pantone palette Resiliance

Cultural blending has, in fact, been well underway for some time and will continue to evolve into new and exciting preferences in color combinations and styles. And, in any space or product, surface sheen and texture are important and often dictate a color’s appearance and therefore contribute to our color preferences and uses.

Third: Home decor follows fashion
As a rug designer, I incorporate color from an instinctive perspective, starting with what feels right to me from the artistic standpoint. That said, I can of course change colors in any way to suit individuals’ requests. It surprises me sometimes that many of the colors I initially use in my rug designs do show up in a future trend forecast. That is always interesting, and just demonstrates once again that color is universal—and cyclical.

Pantone "Heritage" palette

Pantone’s new greens in the Heritage palette can be flexible.

My basic belief doesn’t just “belong” to me.
It’s much broader than any individual, and does not depend on color trends at all.
As humans—without regard to “trends”—we all crave color in myriad varieties of light and bright, muted yet clean, and deep, rich, and dark. It’s all about proportion, balance, and use. I see color trends as something interesting and cyclical, worth observing, with variations in each re-occurrence of a particular color.

Are you Into Color Trends for your own home, or your business, or just for fun? Visit these places for more inspiration:

Ellen Kennon Full Spectrum Paints
Kate Smith, of Sensational Color
Color Marketing Group: Where Trends are Defined
Pantone: a great resource for color information and products

Change is dynamic. That’s the fascination that keeps us coming back for more! What’s Your “take” on the trends?


Asking the right questions

How to listen: Take a tip from Joseph Albers
Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.”

Among the many “what’s the first step” items in the process of a new client-relationship, asking the right questions is at the top of my list.

Of course this also goes for any project, even with people we think we know, since each project carries its own set of circumstances. That’s why I love the above statement by Josef Albers.

Warming up with Red Clay from EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint

While creatively problem-solving, opportunities to learn—and to teach—abound in every project

  • Help clients discover their own personal design styles
  • Introduce new concepts and ideas
  • Interact with clients in an authentic way
EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Atlantis and Blue Grotto

“Atlantis,” an EcoHues Full Spectrum color, is on the back wall of dining area and continues into the foyer that is visible from the dining room.


Soft full spectrum colors, kitchen view into family room

Rich soft colors enhance—and subtly define—three connected spaces, with 3 different close colors.

One example, from a client’s note to me
“…you helped take the confusion out of color selection process and opened up our eyes to color choices we never would have thought of using.  We appreciated how easy it was to work with you, and how carefully you listened to our wants and needs.”

It just takes practice!
As artists and designers, it’s so easy to become excited about a project and about our own approach and inspirations. The practice is in listening, and advising while not imposing our personal preferences. It’s really all about the goal for every client.

I’d love to listen. What is your story?

Bio-What? Add Nature to your Life and Feel Better Now


It’s not quite a “household word” yet, but is definitely becoming a regularly accepted fact: including as many references to “nature” as possible—in any kind of space—leads to more healthy living and working environments. How this plays out in a very real, practical way is documented in some very interesting articles.  You might say, it’s  even a matter of common sense—and dollars.

We humans need to be connected to nature.
We hear this so much that it borders on sounding trite. But it’s an innate aspect of our biological makeup—we’re “hard-wired” with this need, and it’s a good one. The very real, physical concept of Biophilia brings it into a larger scale of relevance; architectural projects ranging from a variety of workplaces, manufacturing, offices, and especially health care, can reap the largest-scale benefits—from improving their financial conditions to creating more socially healthy civic communities, in general.

According to a fascinating short article I recently read, * ‘Biophilic Design Could Save Millions of Dollars,’ including more vegetation in cities would visibly reduce crime rates “7 percent,” and subsequently save tremendous amounts of money “in incarceration costs from violent and property crimes.”

At this point you might be saying…Ok, that’s interesting but “What About Me? What can I do in my own home go introduce a more nature-relevant quality?”

beach view

How would you use this image as inspiration for creating your own nature-based color palette?

Even on a smaller, personal scale

there’s a huge benefit to creating associations to nature. Whether you have a small rented apartment, or a condo or home of any size that you own, you can really make a difference in the lives of yourself and family members.

So, on to a few quick comments about using color in your home or workplace, to help introduce some more natural qualities in addition to the houseplants you might already have, and your garden (which are a great start, by the way). We’re back to often-discussed topics included in what I often talk about: Supportive Color Design.

  • Lighting: incorporate as much natural lighting as possible. Be sure to test your paint colors in all available lighting condition in your setting.
  • Color: Specifically the benefits of using Full Spectrum Paint: Eliminate black and gray from your walls. Full spectrum paints using a minimum of 7 tints in each color will get you the closest to the colors of sunlight–at least as close as you can get considering it’s paint.
  • Shapes: Beyond the typical room shapes, look at shapes in nature and see how you can bring those elements into your own home.
  • Space design: Creating a comfortable and supportive interior environment: arrange your furniture and other decorative items in an orderly and balanced way for maximum comfort, taking into consideration their sizes, shapes, and placement in the space.

From the original article titled “The Economics of Biophilia” prepared by the environmental consulting and strategic planning firm, Terrapin Bright Green,  is this statement by E.O. Wilson, the person who defined Biophilia:

Biophilia is the innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything  else humanity is ever likely to encounter.” – E.O. Wilson, 1984

Image courtesy of FIGUURA, from the Terrapin Bright Green article.

How do contemporary designers incorporate Biophilia in their own work? In ways not specifically “interior design” but even in specific products used in interiors. Wall coverings, office cubicle textiles, and the drapes in hospital patients’ rooms are just a few. Textile designer Laura Deubler Mercurio, whose work is shown in the image below, is a long-time colleague of mine through the IACC (International Association of Color Consultants). She is completely involved in Biophilic and fractal design, creating exciting, beautiful and thoughtful designs for woven textiles, that are used in the three types of locations I just mentioned.

fabric design by Laura Deuble-Mercurio

Fractal studies have inspired Laura Deubler-Mercurio to design fabrics for hospital use.
Her textile designs are based on our senses relating to fractal divisions in nature.

Personally, I’d heard about Biophilia many years ago, and since then that awareness has had a significant connection to my own approach to Supportive Color Design, that applies to interior or exterior color design. Thanks to, a publication of the AIA, for bringing this in-depth article to my attention.

What you’re reading in this post is intended to encourage you to read the entire, original article that you can download from the Terrapin Bright Green web site.

ICFF 2012: Something multicolored, something blue, and many things new.

It’s not borrowed. It’s multicolored, and it’s sometimes blue.

Not talking about “June weddings.” In this case, it’s the ICFF show (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). A great place to see international contemporary culture expressed in design. Sometimes reflective of something old, and in many cases something new, and always interesting.

In any case, I always find this show enjoyable on many levels. Seeing many of the latest new products, color trends and design trends from international designers, and talking with some of them in person, is an experience I find fun and inspiring.

LIghting at ICFF

Hand blown glass fixtures - glowing frosty finish

So, to share just a few of the items that piqued my interest for a number of reasons…
I enjoyed a brief conversation with Jamie Harris, the artist who created these beautiful hand blown glass light fixtures

ICFF light

Hand blown glass fixtures - metallic shimmer

ICFF lighting

Sheer color in gorgeous hand blown lighting


Still on the subject of light, check out these amazing solid acrylic tubes. Colors infuse the entire material throughout, and the colors change as you move around the piece according to viewing angles. Even the edges are luminously multicolored

LED acrlic solid tube

Walk around and see how the color changes. View 1 of 4

.ICFF lights

View 2

ICFF lighting

View 3
ICFF lighting

View 4

Imagine the setting for these beautifully sculptural light fixtures.

Moving along to see some furniture, something I always enjoy.

glowing furniture

Fantasy cabinets - one of a few from Boca Do Lobo


It’s not just a stack of sample finishes…Each drawer is an individual, functional drawer.
unique furniture

The upper section, and the surface shown below, is beaded by indigenous Huichol people in Mexico. From Espacio Sami Hayek. How do you like the wood?

Note: the picture on their web site is Not of their ICFF booth…at least not the one I saw there.


Closeup of the artistic detail on this credenza by the same company, Espacio Sami Hayek.

display booth

Closeup of a metal wall of a display "booth"

japanese tetilres

Something Blue! So very beautiful, and "Wabi-Sabi." Amazing textiles from Kyoto Rakushian

closeup japanese textiles

I could not resist sharing a closer view.

And last, but not least, for now…

funky furnituire

Just so we don't get too serious..simple, funky, and having a sense of humor.

So much to see and enjoy in one day, these are just a few of my favorites.

Do you have a favorite? If so, which piece–and where would you use it?

Behind the increasing cost of paint

Here we go again, in Paint as many industries and products.
Yes, prices are going up—again. It used to be that paint was, well, “Cheap!” We always would say, hey, it’s the best way to get the most change for the least money spent.  Big change for small change, so to speak. Whether you’re “into paint” or just buying paint again after a long time away from your paint store, now you might be surprised at the current prices and the projected trend in this direction.

What is the story about the paint price increases? It’s not just for a few “premium” companies, but apparently all across the spectrum of brands, quality and price points.
paint fandeck

What’s in that can of paint?
Basically, all paint colors are made up of tinted bases. In sheens from flat to high gloss, the base material is a combination of materials, but this story is about, essentially,  “titanium dioxide.” That’s what makes the the paint color white, in the can, before adding tints to make Your colors. So, when the cost of that material goes up, so goes the price of paint.

If you’re into the economy of science–or the bottom line on why paint products are continuing to get more expensive– you might enjoy this article.

EcoHues Full Spectrum Paint - Pacific Mist

Boston condo – EcoHues Full Spectrum : Blue Grotto.  Making the most of a can of paint with a minimum of 7 tints in Every color—and not a drop of black or gray.

But OK, I will still say it—Paint is the way to go.  All the more reason why we want to really carefully consider what colors we’re using, and paying for.  And, all the more reason to make the most of the paint we are using—and enjoying.

Make it easy? Texture and finish variations create interest.

Connect and coordinate a simple color palette with collaboration, colors, and textures.
Sometimes it’s easier than others, and sometimes it just Looks easy! Carefully considered wall finishes and coordinated custom rugs can help. Collaboration gets it done.

In this Boston high-rise condo, to create a backdrop for stronger colors we used a neutral-based color palette in custom finish of textured walls, with custom Tibetan rugs.

rugs from Silk Road WeavesHand knotted rug: 100% wool. All custom Tibetan rugs shown are from Silk Road Weaves.

I’ve worked in tandem with Boston-area designer Cynthia Brumm, of SpaceDesign, on a number of projects. Here, Cynthia was the lead and she asked me to create wall finishes and rug designs. In addition to designing custom pieces for this client, Cynthia selected beautifully vibrant furnishings to complement the owner’s existing pieces.

Dinign room rug from Silk Road Weaves

Existing dining room furniture is beautifully complemented by GEO-Borders in wool and silk, from Silk Road Weaves

Cynthia also designed this dramatic console cabinet in a beautiful dark wood finish.

TV cabinet

Cabinet design by Cynthia Brumm. Artisan wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs Color and Design

Custom wall finishes in an architectural, low-profile texture provide a beautiful backdrop for the custom rugs from Silk Road Weaves.

Runner version of Geo from Silk Road Weaves

The adaptable nature of GEO from Silk Road Weaves becomes a runner in 100% wool, and complements the living room and dining room rugs, also from the GEO group.

The wall finishes are the same throughout the main open areas: Entry, Hallway, Living room, Dining room.
Kitchen and powder room are different.

custom wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs

Powder room features walls having a soft bronze layered glaze. Wall finishes by Barbara Jacobs.

The overall effect is comfortable, yet stunning, with a dramatic view overlooking the city.

view of boston

Yes, there is a view of Boston!

All images by Barbara Jacobs.

Indigo Textiles-Technique and History, by Gosta Sandberg

A fascinating historical survey and practical application of the oldest natural dye in use today: indigo. Visit cultures that have used this wonderful dye and learn the chemistry of the dyeing process. Meet artisans from around the world and discover their techniques. Filled with recipes, tips, suggestions, projects. 184 pages (44 in color), 80 b/w illus., 6 5/8 x 9 3/8.

Seriously, I had no idea when I wrote the recent post about Mood-Indigo that this color was going to be such a big thing!  In West Elm, Crate and Barrel, and even Home Accents Today, all have some mention of this mysteriously beautiful and infinitely variable color and dye.

Dare I predict…(even without a crystal ball) that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this very old dye color in mainstream decor, and not just in denim.

INdigo Textiles TEchnique and History

Right here, enough to get started, with numerous great pictures.


So, to hearken back to my long-time fascination with traditional surface design techniques and materials, I found this on my bookshelf.

Dyeing to Try?
For those of you who might take your interest in Indigo to the next level, I encourage you to check out this little volume. You have the instructions Right Here, to do your own Indigo dye work.

List Price: $22.95 USD
New From: $59.36 USD In Stock
Used from: $13.40 USD In Stock

Do you know the cars of summer? But, Which Summer?

Maybe it’s every summer, but in Ohio it’s a great assortment of beautiful colors on beautiful vintage cars that represent some of the colors of summer, and of adventure.Chevy 57

Hi there, can I interest you in a great summer car color?

That’s a classic color, for sure (O.K., so I’m from Minnesota!)
Check out the upholstery!  What a beautiful job.

chevy upholstery

Step inside, take a ride!

Maybe you’d prefer red?

Red CHevy

Hot, and Hotter!

Or, is it Cool, and Cooler?  We didn’t see any Yellow cars that day, though…
Purple car

classic blue and white
Classic blue and white palette

classic chevy blue white

Going back in time a bit…

Red Oldie

Red was probably not the original color.

red ford

But isn't it gorgeous?

What’s a car show without an essential, basic, and beautiful green?



There’s something about the quality of the paint job.
All these colors are so deep, you can look into them for miles. Some have embedded metallic within the layers of the finish.turq shinyShiny, Bright, and Brilliant.

brightest blue

And last but certainly not least..the original.

antique jeep

Original version, complete with real, very historic, embellishment.

How will you use these colors?  Please share your inspirations!




Color of the week? Try, MOOD of the week, INDIGO!

Blues…music, paint, fiber, jewels, feelings.

What’s “Mood Indigo,” anyway?
An audio version of course…this classic!

And another interpretation by Ella Fitzgerald, unsurpassable.

Another way to experience it – Old Levi’s!  In the originals, the dye was Indigo.

Indigo culture is worldwide, a fiber dye and therefore, as with many dye materials, a currency. Whether it’s a paste resist in Africa; Batik  or block-printing in Indonesia; Rice Paste resist or Arashi Shibori in Japan, and any one of the myriad textile design techniques that are part of indigenous cultures worldwide, using Indigo dye is a highly developed craft and art.

Indigo vats in Japan - find out more at Kimono Boy

Vats of Indigo in Japan. Find out more at Kimono Boy

Actually, the inspiration for this post was a recent conversation with a friend who now lives in Santa Fe. She mentioned seeing the premier of the documentary, Blue Alchemy, and hearing about it reminded me of the many ways that I’ve seen Indigo dye used over the years. That conversation brought back many memories of my own personal experiences working with many types of tradition textile decoration techniques and materials. Even now, in fact, I can use Indigo-dyed fibers in my own Tibetan rug designs!

In antique textiles, traditional culture textiles, and modern work, Indigo has a presence all its own.

Hmong Textiles

Textiles made by Hmong people in Vietnam, shown at Kimono Reincarnate blog site.

Indigo pots in Nigeria

Pots of Indigo in Nigerian traditional dyeing

Morris Kennet-Indigo printed textile 1883

Indigo printed textile by Morris Kennet -- 1883!

Indigo is earthy, primal, mysterious, exotic, beautiful, and versatile! What more could we ask of one type of plant?

If this is a subject that interests you, check out this video and other material on the same page. And, Enjoy!

Imagining, knowing, envisioning, creating, and Enjoying

Everyone does it!
That is, everyone looks at color, and feels the effects of color—one way or another. Even those with impaired vision experience and feel color internally.

So, when it comes to actually deciding what colors to use for our homes or even for our businesses, some confusion usually ensues. Typically, the ways color is decided when we need help is one of these:

Paint store defined palettes: Makes it easy, requires little imagination (ie: it’s already done for you). At the very least, this can be a good place to start, to explore testing some colors in your own home.

Ask-a-friend or family member: sometimes works, but the friend or family member is then responsible for their advice (and the relationship!)

Painter recommendations: Painters have more experience with applied color than anyone else in the field.
While some painters are happy to work with you closely to arrive at your specifically personal colors, I’ve noticed that they will typically want you to tell them what colors to use, so they can keep rolling.

However, on the side of patience and imagination,  there might be more that’s needed to achieve something really personal and interesting.

Copy the house down the street: this can be good for inspiration but might not suit your house, Or You, even if it’s the same style building.

What’s different?

  • You are different! There are no two people alike, even though they might like the same kinds of colors.
  • your House is different – even if it’s only the specific physical location
  • Landscaping is likely to be different.
  • lighting is probably not the same

Whether it’s for interior or exterior colors, in the process of determining a unique, harmonious and balanced personal color palette for your home, the four qualities in the title of this post are essential to really get it right. Don’t worry about where to begin, because you can actually start with any of them. The creative process is one that evolves through all of those phases.

They are all part of eliminating the frustration of being confronted by thousands of colors, and turning the experience into one that’s enjoyable and informative. At some point you may want to consult with a professional about any of these aspects of selecting colors:

  1. Imagining – artistic
  2. Knowing – educated, trained specially in the field
  3. Envisioning – experience
  4. Creating – putting it together

And finally: Enjoying
Something you can do without any help at all!


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