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Color scheme Hot hues for the home are coming down to earth

Green rocks. Brown is still big. And blues from nature will be everywhere.

Such is the word for colors for the home going into the new year. Not that it's time to re-paint every wall in the house or re-upholster the furniture in something, say, more mineral. But colors do come and go and, quite interestingly, evolve from what is happening in the world.

The soft greens we will be seeing more of this year reflect expanding concern for the environment, trend-watchers say.

And the ongoing popularity of the color brown has grown from America's love affair with coffee and chocolate -- and it very much continues.

Social issues, popular culture, the economy and more all come into play as well, and color experts at Pantone Color Institute and Color Marketing Group keep an eye on it all -- forecasting color trends two or three years in advance.

The CMG, for one, notes in a recent news release that the most powerful color trends relate to the "mainstreaming of environmentalism." In addition to botanical greens, the nature-inspired blues -- think sky and water -- will be big. Such a blue appears on the cover of this month's Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Earthy browns, beiges and tans are colors to watch for -- as are the colors of rocks, stones and minerals. And, for punch, you'll be seeing deep rich ethnic reds and warm oranges.

Emerging, too, are the soothing, cheery yellows. Pottery Barn, for example, shows a paint shade called Cornsilk, by Benjamin Moore, mixed with ivory and espresso. The color of a mellow-yellow pillow is called Sundrop.

Much of what is new with colors are the combinations. Instead of being monochromatic, "colors dance and work off of each other to make it pop," said Elizabeth Bartolone, from Homeward Bound on Elmwood Avenue.

So in a room decorated in soft greens, whites and browns, you'll see a punch of pink -- even if it is just in a flower arrangement.

She also sees a move away from coral to more neutral sea-inspired hues such as sand, starfish and shells.

And that blue and brown combination so popular in fashion several years ago lives on in home decor.

In fabrics, "we're still seeing a lot of the chocolate brown-aqua story -- the really rich browns paired with the robin-egg or smoky blues," said Suzanne Gawronski, manager of Calico Corners in Williamsville.

"And they are starting to introduce more silvers mixed with robin-egg blue and also pairing them with the smoky lavender tones now. It's a clean-lined look, not that heavy European purple they tried a couple years ago. Now it's the smoky lighter tones," she said.

Considering that gray is a big fashion neutral for 2007, it makes sense that silvery and gray tones will show up for the home as well.

Gawronski also predicts that turquoise and teal are going to put on a show.

"It's both ends of the turquoise spectrum -- from the strong, clear turquoise to the denser tones of teal. We are starting to see them in the turquoise paisleys," she said.

Also strong: Red mixed with brown.

"It's a twist on burgundy and hunter green," she added.

The popular brown and blue combo naturally shows up in wallcoverings as well.

"Wallpaper follows fashion. Whatever is on the runways one year will be in the wallpaper books the following year," said Barbara Rykse, president of Setel Wallpaper on Hertel Avenue.

People also are liking black and white wallcoverings, as well as the lavenders and purples.

Overall, "people are getting into funky colors. For years, they were too serious about their decorating," she said.

And, as in years past, color is really cooking in the kitchen, right down to spatulas and rolling pins.

"Last year, it was pink, orange and lime green. This year, they are pushing the reds and the browns. I had a red kitchen 20 years ago, so it makes sense that it is back again," said Patti Crysler, store manager of the Podge, a Clarence store specializing in kitchen and gourmet items.

She expects the popular bright colored housewares to stick around.

"I think that people will always have something bright because it is fun for entertaining," she added.

After all, the kitchen is a key place for color.

As Leatrice Eiseman, internationally renowned color expert, puts it in a trends forecast posted on the Pantone Web site: "I don't care how many potato peelers you have. If you see this cool new purple one, and purple happens to be one of your favorite colors, that's going to draw you."

Colorful, too, is the palette that Elizabeth Bartolone describes as having a Hamptons/South Beach feel.

"The colors are fresh, lively and vibrant. It's Jackie O with a summer twist," she said.


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