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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?

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.

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!


Cross-generational relationships: Connecting the Color-Dots from Antique to Contemporary

How to relate? In this case, it’s about Antiques, Color, Contemporary Life…connecting the colorful dots!

Do you love antiques? Even if you are partial to Contemporary design, you have to check out this web site that is an excellent resource for all types of antiques, from lighting to furniture to architectural elements.

They have a unique—and fun—feature on the site: you can select a color from a rainbow band of color options and you’ll be able to see how any of those colors will look when used with the antique piece you’re looking at on their site.

How did I find out about this? Even though I’m a designer of contemporary rugs, they asked me to write a section about using antique textiles in a contemporary environment. As a color consultant, I wanted to make the connection using color as the bridge and a trip to San Francisco provided the backdrop.

Together we selected a group of four pieces, to start with: two antique rugs, and two other antique textiles.

Ningxia Runner

Antique Ningxia Runner from

I really enjoyed creating color palettes especially for these fine antique pieces, all from two noteworthy showrooms in San Francisco. I was fortunate to be able to personally visit the Sandra Whitman Gallery and Kathleen Taylor: The Lotus Collection during a recent trip to the Bay Area. It was a great opportunity to see some of these fine antiques in a real-life setting, and the showroom owners were so generous in sharing photos and information about their collections of exquisite textiles.

When you visit, you’ll also see posts by other designers featured on the web site.  The palettes I created for this project are all referring to Ellen Kennon Full-Spectrum Paints but you can use any brand, including my own line “EcoHues” which is made through Ellen Kennon but which I had not yet created when I wrote the palette article for Designer Diggs.

Check out to read all the articles and enjoy discovering some new color combinations. And of course, using “antiques” is just another very beautiful way to implement Green design!

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“Enjoy the Process: Guidelines for Working with a Design Professional.”


“Falling Leaves” are custom made in time for Fall

What is a “Bespoke” design for rugs?
I’m often asked about my process of designing and having a “bespoke” rug made; an original design created specifically for an individual client’s space and personal style preferences.  In some cases, the client loves to participate very directly in the design process.

Falling Leaves - Octagon

Octagonal version of the design "Falling Leaves"

I selected “Falling Leaves” to share here, as a good example of this experience which is many steps beyond the typical customizing of an existing collection design for size, shape, colors, and even texture.

For me, the process of collaboration with the client is especially enjoyable.  Although these clients are in  the Boston area, and it was easy for me to travel to their home for our meetings, it’s also possible to work with people long-distance. I’ll write about that in another post.

It’s Personal
It’s more than a rug purchase, it’s really about the total experience. My goal is to to invite each client into the process of creating a piece of custom art work that they will enjoy for generations. Of course, people vary in the degree to which they want to be involved. In this case, the clients were excited about in-depth participation on every level.

We had a number of meetings together from start to finish. At the outset, we determined the “subject” of the design. I had a little head start on this because, about 10 years ago, they had engaged me to create a pair of hand painted canvas floorcloths for these same areas. The painted designs were made in 5’x7′, and 8′ diameter—with 12 sides!

What to include?
Their kitchen/dining space included warm cherry wood cabinets, oak floor, and a silvery granite countertop with some grayed blue-green undertones. Fabric of the window treatments included colors and shapes they love. All these elements were very important to them in the look of the new rugs, and it was those considerations that set the tone of the design development process.

Now that they have an adult household, doing actual hand-woven rugs was an exciting and viable option. Exploring the variety of fibers, colors, and weaving techniques that are an intrinsic part of creating a hand knotted rug was a very pleasurable part of the process, in the expectation and anticipation of the final works.



About the designs: the goal
Two custom rugs, “Falling Leaves.”  The pair is a 5’x7′ rectangle, and an 8’x8′ octagon. The rectangle was made for the work area of the client’s kitchen (all wool, 100 knot), and the octagon was made to go under the round table in the adjacent dining area, on the other side of the peninsula.

leaves in the kitchen

FLORA: "Falling Leaves," on the kitchen floor

We discussed the fibers to use, and the overall color palette that would best represent their ideal rug design. While they had an interest in including some silk in the designs, we explored that possibility but ultimately opted for using 100% Himalayan wool (the only type of wool I use for Silk Road Weaves rugs). In having the samples made up, we included one with some silk in it also, just to be sure of the look. Everyone loved the silk look and feel, but of course that’s not so practical for this setting.


Pair of hand made rugs

This "Bespoke" design: FLORA/Falling Leaves. Left: 5'x7' Right: 8' Octagon

From our overall color palette, to create additional depth of color I suggested combining multiple colors and dye-techniques within the various color fields. Again, this was something that I specified in our samples, so we could see how it looked in a few different ways.

That’s just one thing I love about the creative process of designing these rugs as an art form, just another medium. There are so many ways to create visual interest and depth of color, even with a more limited palette and basically “graphic” design style.

Texture of falling leaves

Closeup - texture of Falling Leaves

For our first meeting
I brought yarn poms of wool and silk, and worked out rough sketches to start with. Then, back in the studio I translated the design to the computer where I could adjust the overall design and the placement of colors. This is a very effective way to preview the possibilities and make changes as needed, to develop the design. Once we had the basic idea of the 5×7, I developed the 8′ octagon, taking into consideration the placement of table and chairs.  In our subsequent meetings together we honed the color selections and refined the details, the entire look and texture of the two rugs.

I sent for the samples and…after one month they arrived. Because we had been meticulously attentive to all details along the way, they loved all three versions but the final decision was easy for them to make.


Why this shape?
Yes, we could have made it round, but wanted the octagon as a more interesting shape that was very compatible with the design style and the space it would be used.  As with all our collections, these rugs can be customized to suit any personal space and style with size, color, and fiber preferences.


dining area

Dining area, the 8' octagon rug.


“It’s hard to believe that our third project with Barbara is even better than the first two!  The beach scene mural that Barbara painted on our wall, over 10 years ago, continues to be timeless and bring joy. And while we are sad to say goodbye to the canvas floorcloths that she created for us eleven years ago, the replacement rugs she has just designed are magnificent, with Barbara’s impeccable choice of color and textures woven in a stunning yet subtle design. We’re finding it difficult to walk on these works of art!

Perhaps best of all was how easily Barbara brought my husband and me into the design process. She educated us on the process of rug making that would happen half way around the world and kept us informed of progress via email and pictures. In the design mode Barbara welcomed our suggestions and sought our input, making the three of us a team.

Barbara’s versatile talents create one-of-a-kind jewels that transform a room into a very special space.  Bravo, Barbara, you’ve done it again!”

Want more information about the process and materials?
View our 2-part slide show, The Journey, from Inspiration to You,” to find out more about the materials and processes of making a hand woven Tibetan rug from Silk Road Weaves.

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