Commercial Appeal: Inside Design: Experts share their new go-to neutrals

This article originally appeared in the Commercial Appeal on Oct. 11, 2013

Recently a friend asked, “What will be the next big neutral after gray dies down?”

Hmm. A puzzler if I’ve ever heard one — like trying to predict whether it’ll be cold or hot on Halloween or whether granite is a trend with infinite staying power. (Since it’s a finite resource, my guess is probably not.)

As for the color question, my answer is white. It’s a rare photo in a shelter magazine these days that doesn’t depict a white-walled room, and I think that trend will trickle on down. But not completely trusting myself, I decided to conduct an informal poll of area experts.

Their answers ranged across the spectrum (as designer Lynne Catron said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if you asked 20 designers and got 20 different answers”), but there were definitely some common shades:

Leslie Shankman-Cohn, Jill Hertz Interior Design: “Gray is here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, there are grays, and then there are grays. Some are cool, stark and can be harsh; others are warm, softer and more inviting. The grays of the future are leaning more toward the warmer side with undertones of beiges and browns.”

Linda Wingo, Wingo Design & Interiors: “Gray is still in the forecast for 2014; however, for 2014 blue and green are heavily emphasized. There’s been a growth in using white as the neutral backdrop and pop colors displayed in accessories, artwork and small furniture. White has consistently shown up in more contemporary designs. It will be interesting to see if this develops into a trend in traditional décor.”

Lana Zepponi, Chestnut Hall Furniture & Interiors: “I think white could be the new gray. White can slant toward many different moods depending on the slight touch of the hue. There’s an art to choosing the right one to fit the light and feeling of a space. There are cooler whites, warmer whites, richer whites, brighter whites, dirty whites. I see it becoming a go-to neutral.”

Anne Canale, Anne Canale Designs: “Design forecasts include furniture and accessories made of reclaimed wood, floors made of bamboo and cork, fabrics made of organic matter, and the list goes on. To me it seems only natural that the next neutral will reflect our environment’s many shades of green.”

Michael Taylor, Michael Taylor Interiors: “I think the next big neutral might be some shade of green. With everything trying to be sustainable these days, green seems like a good evolution. Although, because we had beige for so long, gray in some shade is going to be our go-to neutral for a while. It’s picking up great momentum even in traditional homes.”

Lynne Catron, Fresh Perspective Design & Interiors: “Color seems to come in waves. Years of our currently neutral taupes and grays have followed years of jewel tones, which followed years of earth tones. I think that we’re on the brink of saturated colors being the next set of neutrals. I also believe that the cues will be taken from nature rich indigo blue, deep sea turquoise, shadowy evergreen and rich dark brown.”

Ami Austin, Ami Austin Interiors: “My favorite all-time neutral for walls is ‘almond bisque’ — Benjamin Moore color 269; request their ‘pearl’ finish. I love to use its sister color ‘canvas,’ Benjamin Moore 267, for ceilings, and for that I only recommend flat. These colors are amazing both day and night.”

Sara Walden, Chestnut Hall Furniture & Interiors: “I think maybe we will see some camel colors and different variations of that color. Neutrals such as grays and tans are perfect for trendier colors.”

Jill Hertz, Jill Hertz Interior Design: “Greige. My definition of greige is ‘gray plus beige equals greige.’ Both colors can be warm or cool, light or dark, and always neutral. The beautiful thing about greige, depending on the lighting and the mixing percentage of each color, is that it can lean into another color, therefore changing colors from day to night.”

All I know is, I recently spent weeks searching out the perfect white for my kitchen — and my living room, foyer and upstairs hall are about to follow suit. But that’s a discussion for another column.