The 2012 Color Palette

Color experts from Sherwin-Williams-Colors said that they drew inspiration from fashion-forward analogous color combinations to experiment with hues within color families to create four vibrant palettes. They also embraced the sustainable landscape, which has become an enduring influence on all aspects of décor and design.

It is a great year to be in the color business with 40 hues in the 2012 color forecast that stay close to home with earth-inspired, color family groupings of reds, blues, greens and neutrals.

Reds Burn Brightly:

Red is the color of love, fire, and the earth’s molten core, and it stirs raw emotions ranging from the deepest passion to the softest femininity.

This saturated palette includes hues of brilliant flowers and glowing embers. It isn’t a single red, but a deep gradation of fuchsias, red-oranges, violets, and delicate pinks.

“Red has a renewed dominance,” Jordan said. “But the old taboos about mixing reds with oranges and purples don’t apply. Our red palette is as bold and free-spirited as the color itself.”

Red cent, a vibrant and emotion-feeling color is featured in a model home in Suffolk, VA, merchandised by Design Consultants, Virginia Beach, Va. The placement of red cent on a continual “Pairing colors within the same color family is a dominant trend,” said Jackie Jordan.

The wall that leads from the living and dining room contrasts perfectly with the shell white trim and picture frame molding that frames the custom artwork. We often send Sherwin-Williams paint swatches of Sherwin-Williams-Colors to manufacturers to digitally create artwork to coordinate with the model home color palette.

The two pieces are perfectly suited. The new home owner purchased the artwork. As she said, “they just have to stay with the painted walls.”

Color Swatches

Graphic of 2012 Sherwin Williams Color Swatches

Blues Not Washed Out: This soothing palette celebrates a pair of functional and treasured blues: denim and water. It explores the darkest indigo to faded-jeans hues, some with violet undertones, as well as the calm, shimmery shades that reflect rivers, lakes, and seas.

“As we seek economic blue skies, we’re rediscovering denim, the rugged fabric of the American worker,” Jordan said. “Clean water is another essential commodity, from oceans to tap. Our serene blue palette pays homage to both of these treasured resources.” Adding bracing blue was the perfect answer to a recent model home move.

The builder/developer’s re-design positioned a new model. Design Consultants was asked to use the existing furnishing and make it look new.” Bracing blue proved a perfect contrast to the shell white trim. The more casual life-style evokes the feel of faded jeans. Although it has been used for several years, the buyer profile identifies with this color scheme.

Consumers purchased furniture with the warm wood hues in recent years. They want to find a way to keep their investment and still have a fresh and updated look. Adding blues can often be the answer.

I Have My Colors but . . .
I may need a little help

Greens Firmly Planted:

Casting aside the more innocent yellow-tinged greens of the past, this eclectic palette focuses on greens that are lush, moody, and complex. It showcases the depths of the sea and forest, leafy motifs, rustic natural textures, and organic elements such as algae, moss, and seaweed.

Color families of the 2012 color forecast “We’re serious about going green, and our green palette honors our sustainable lifestyle,” Jordan said. “This trend is observed everywhere, even in dense urban areas, where rooftop and kitchen gardens flourish.”

Sherwin-Williams-Colors--Neutrals Provide Balance:

Raw materials continue to influence color trends, especially the more subtle hues. Picture a field of grain, a pile of pebbles, weathered wood, and earthen clay. Gold tones embody the sun and soft metallics — and warm up this understated, yet refined palette. Textural elements, such as linen, unfired porcelain, and mixed woods, provide subtle tonal variations.

“Steely grays have given way to our neutral palette of warmer gray and natural tones that create a balanced look,” Jordan said. Have a latte, again. Sherwin-Williams’ latte is back in the mix for 2012.

Latte was named the most popular paint color almost 10 years ago and it finds itself used with many of the 2012 ColorMix colors such as red bay and burgundy. Latte the paint is similar to Latte the drink. We just can’ get enough of it.

There’s an App for That!

Sherwin-Williams Color Snap App Graphi

ColorSnap® is a free color-matching mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and the Android Galaxy tablet.

Available for download here, this free color-matching app allows users to quickly and easily match hues with more than 1,500 Sherwin-Williams-colors.

Color Snap App by Sherwin Williams on an iPhone

Browse existing images or snap a new photo, scroll around to locate the exact hue to match and ColorSnap will display the closest Sherwin-Williams-colors and coordinating palette.

The Sherwin-Williams interactive Color Visualizer offers the option to upload your own home interior or exterior images to discover and experiment with hundreds of color options for your space.

See Even More Design Apps In the App-Center


Color Expert Kathy Browning Phot

Author: Kathy Browning, MIRM, CMP, CGP, is owner of Design Consultants, a 30-year old business working exclusively with builders in model home merchandising. Her credits include over 1,000 merchandised homes and winning numerous awards for Best Interior Merchandising.

She is an active member of Tidewater Association and Builders Association and has served as Homearama Interior Designer. Browning served as a trustee for the National Sales and Marketing Council and was co-chair of the 2010 Best in America Living Awards 2010. Reach her at 757-422-3876 or

*Reprinted with permission from "COLOR EXCITEMENT 2012" by Kathy Browning, 2012, Sales + Marketing Ideas, pages 22-27, Copyright 2012 by National Sales and Marketing Council of The National Association of Home Builders.

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