Ready to enter the Emerald City? The great and powerful wizards of the color world have spoken, and jewel-tone green with a hint of blue is their pick for 2013's Color of the Year.

Emerald is "sophisticated and luxurious, the color of beauty and new life," declared the Pantone Color Institute in announcing its annual selection.

The hue has been a recent fashion favorite, with celebrities donning green gowns for red-carpet appearances. Now Emerald is ready to conquer the home.

"I'm thrilled! It's so rich, so royal!" enthused Kathy Basil, manager/buyer for Hirshfield's Design Resource. "I almost thought it would be last year -- we've been seeing a lot of it at market."

British style star Kate Middleton has helped bring the color front and center. "She wears it really well, she's beautiful, and everyone's got their eyes on her," Basil said.

But you don't have to be a scepter-thin brunette duchess to look good in Emerald, according to Basil. "Everyone can wear the color. And when people can relate to it in apparel, they can so easily throw Emerald green into that mix at home."

"It's really going to hit in the spring," Basil predicted. "We're going to see it everywhere, and we're going to want it."

Designer Linda Kiltie has always craved the color. She named her business Emerald Interior Design more than 15 years ago because she's green-eyed, Irish and likes to golf, she said. Besides, "No one ever tires of seeing grass turn emerald green in spring."

She thinks Emerald's ascendancy now reflects a desire for more color in general. "After a long stretch of calm, neutral colors, people are ready to be energized. It shows our hope for the future."

But after two years of bright, punchy Colors of the Year (Tangerine Tango in 2012 and hot-pink Honeysuckle the year before), isn't plain old dark green kind of dull?

Kiltie gasped. "No!" This isn't the dark, muddy hunter green that was so popular in the '90s, she declared. "It's brighter and cleaner, like a gem with light hitting it."

Jerelyn Mohr of Full Nest Design is another fan. "Oh, yummy! I love that color," she said. "I don't get to use it much. Everything is so sage-y around here." She's hoping that will change as Emerald's profile rises. "I'm definitely seeing Emerald in fashion, but there's a delay before people get it for their interiors."

"You have to be smart about how you use it," cautioned Mohr. Paired with blue and white, Emerald can look traditional, but paired with orange or pink, it can look quirky and contemporary.

If you want to try the color at home, Basil suggests adding a piece of painted furniture, in a lacquer finish with a lot of reflection, "so it takes on the character of a true gemstone," she said.

Emerald also mixes well with the grays that have dominated the neutral end of the spectrum in recent years, Basil said. If you haven't gone gray at home and want to mix Emerald with a warmer neutral, say a beige sofa or other investment piece, choose a slightly warmer green. "You can still do it; just lean to the Kelly [green]," Basil said.

If you love Emerald as much as Kiltie does, try painting a powder room or accent wall, she suggested. If that's too much saturated color for you, go green with new towels, a throw or a piece of artwork.

And for those who really like to be on trend, Kiltie would even mix Emerald with last year's Tangerine Tango and Honeysuckle. "I'd add it right in. They're all very cheery," she said.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784