Which colors can you expect to dominate in home decor and housewares this year? Paintmakers and industry groups predict a range of hues, from laid-back neutrals, to calming pastels, to wow-worthy brights.

Their common thread: Almost all of the prognosticators said these palettes stem from a need for stability and happiness in uncertain economic times, with a nod toward nostalgia.


Global color authority Pantone, which sets color standards for the design industry, termed this color, 15-5519, "an effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world." The institute's Leatrice Eiseman noted that the color, in some cultures, "is believed to be a protective talisman, a color of deep compassion and healing, and a color of faith and truth, inspired by water and sky."

How it functions: Restores a sense of well-being.


The Color Marketing Group, which represents international color design professionals, defines this as its "Next Color," a blend of purple, brown and gray.

How it functions: "A neutral we can love long-term," said group president James Martin. "Today, neutrals are the lead performers, chameleon colors that shift and change," drawing inspiration from mineral, concrete and steel.


While Benjamin Moore's forecast for the home arena identified this green on the yellow end of the spectrum, 2034-40, as its "it" color, it also chose 17 other colors in three distinct palettes, all of which are "palliatives for America's collective mood."

How it functions: This green represents renewal, new growth and the environment, said Sonu Mathew, a senior interior designer for the company. Additionally, it provides a "a vibrant pop" when paired with neutrals and is "a perfect foil" for brights "such as deep blues and orangey reds."


Hirshfield's predicts a retreat from the bright vibrant colors of 2009 and a move toward neutrals. "Neutrals seem safe in uncertain times,'" said Kathy Basil of Hirshfield's Design Studio. She likes Benjamin Moore's Ashwood (OC-47) with Autumn Purple (2073-20), peacock blues and leafy greens as rich accents. She said a yearning for safety will influence a desire for handmade and vintage decor, too.

How it functions: As a great backdrop. Basil said "the perfect neutral in your main living space" allows for more adventurous colors elsewhere.


Minneapolis coatings manufacturer Valspar identifies four palettes with eight colors each -- including Baked Scone and Monterey Bay Teal, shown -- as keys to making home environments soothing spots in which to retreat and relax.

How they function: Pastels found in nature give the Peaceful Ambience collection an optimistic feel; Vintage Romance's luxe colors evoke "a much-needed sense of security."


"In uncertain times, we find comfort in the memories and traditions that provide us with a sense of solid ground," said Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing for Sherwin Williams. The 24 colors chosen by the company's color experts are grouped in the Rooted palette and three others, which Jordan termed "a rediscovery of the sights, sounds, smells -- and hues -- of the past."

How they function: Rooted's colors have tribal influences that "evoke feelings of security and strength."


In what seems like an unusual declaration for a business that depends on selling gallons of its product, Pittsburgh Paints said its palettes, including those containing Sea Sprite and Forsythia Blossom, right, "provide the longevity people seek ... today's color trends have staying power."

How they function: Grace's pastels speak to serenity. Zest "revs up" a contemporary outlook (and doesn't that happy yellow Forsythia Blossom remind you of Mimosa, Pantone's color of the year in 2009?)


The Paint Quality Institute, operated by paint manufacturer Rohm and Haas, identifies paint and color trends. Debbie Zimmer, the institute's color expert, said these three palettes "take inspiration from a variety of social and economic influences."

How they function: Yellows, corals and mineral gray in Good Morning portray warmth. Good Night's range of blues and pastels for ceilings warm up bedrooms and bathrooms. And Good Bye? A collection of colors for staging your home for sale: khaki with crisp white, midtone blues, off-white/bisque and black.