2013 color trends: Shades of gray are here to stay

The new neutral replaces boring beige

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2013 color trends: Shades of gray are here to stay
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Gray-based neutrals are the backdrop for pops of citrus in this living room.

Color experts across the country agree: Gray was hot this year and it's going to continue to be the color into 2013. To be on trend, pair it with jewel tones of amethyst or emerald, citrus tones of lemon, or tangerine.

"I think the grey we have all loved for some time is turning a new shade of purple, and gives a wonderful glow of plum hues," says Garrison Hullinger, former design consultant for Williams-Sonoma Home and now president of Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc. in Portland, Ore. His pairing suggestion: "dandelion yellow gives you reason to smile, even in small doses."

While gray is the new neutral, you still need to be careful of the tone. "There are all different kinds of gray," says Veronica Sanchez, co-founder of Citrine Interior Design in Whittier, Calif., an award-winning design firm specializing in model home merchandising and color consultation. She says to stay away from muddy tones; "it has to be clear." She calls it a more-modern neutral and says the color "looks really crisp paired with white. It is the balance of feminine and masculine."

Perhaps retail is partly the reason for the trend. "I think that Restoration Hardware has a lot to do with gray being popular," Sanchez says. "Just look at the catalog. There is definitely the retail trend. Also, the reclaimed wood trend, especially with the gray wash, is very popular too."

"Shades of gray were a huge choice in paint color for my clients this past year and I predict an even stronger surge into next year," says Claudia Jacobs, owner of Claudia Jacobs Designs, LLC, a decorating and staging firm in Goshen, N.Y., and 2011 Real Estate Staging Association Professional Stager of the Year in the Northeast. "This neutral color goes beyond boring beige and has a chameleon effect depending on the style and decorative elements in the room. It can go from classic elegance to contemporary edgy. Accessorize with pops of bright colors or ground it with any combination of white, black, tans, and browns. The citrus colors -- orange and lemon yellow -- work especially well with it. Gray is here to stay."

If you don't want to jump on the gray bandwagon, you can accessorize. "As a decorator, I tend to avoid the color trends and tap into my client's style and preferences," Jacobs says. "If a color is trending and a favorite, I suggest stocking up on accessories while there is optimum selection."

Perhaps gray isn't your thing.

Martha O'Hara, a featured designer in Elle Décor and president of Minneapolis-based i nterior design and furnishings showroom Martha O'Hara Interiors, is seeing "so much green. We're seeing the Kelly greens of the last few years expanding into an array of hues from jade to celadon to sea glass and chartreuse. What we're loving is how greens are being treated -- brightened, mixed, and grayed, rather than saturated as we saw a couple years ago."

She says that "green is used in living spaces, in particular. That is where people want upbeat and energizing colors."

More energizing colors, and perfect accompaniments to gray, are the jewel tones. "The Winter 2012 color trends are showing a strong favoritism to deep, rich jewel tones such as ruby red, amethyst, emerald, sapphire blue, silver/grey tones, and gold/cognac as per both the interior design as well as the fashion industries," says Rima Hamade, owner of Exclusively Staged in Sparta, N.J., a staging and redesign company that transforms homes for sale. "Moving into the Spring 2013 season, these tones lend a transformative effect in adopting a more pastel subtlety, giving way to gorgeous minty greens, lavender-grays, Monaco blues, nude neutrals, and, of course, lemon sorbet."

Karen is an Associated Press-award winning writer specializing in health and shelter topics. She is also the managing editor at Zenfully Delicious, a lifestyle company that educates and coaches people with chronic illness.

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