Following the trend?

I have to speak my mind about something that happens every fall, something that I have changed my view on in the last few years. I was so pissed last week that I wrote it down in big letters in my calendar (yes, I still have a paper and digital calendar). Every year, just about all major paint companies bring out their “colour of the year” and suddenly last year’s colour is forgotten about! 

I personally really like Benjamin Moore’s 2021 colour of the year- Aegean Teal (2136-40), and the 2020 colour was ok- First Light (2102-70), and then oh so long ago in 2019- Metropolitan AF-690.  Then there’s the 2021 Sherwin Williams colour of the year, Urbane Bronze SW 7048 (meh…) and soon other companies and Pantone will come out with their 2021 colours and palettes. So the 2020 colours are tossed aside and we keep moving on…it can get so confusing and this is where my frustration begins!

Benjamin Moore Colours of the Year 2021, 2020, 2019

This got me thinking of trends, marketing, and what we’ve all been lulled into.  If we want to live in a more sustainable world, then we all have to make tough choices, including colour & interior design choices. START WITH MAKING CHOICES THAT DON’T NEED CHANGING EVERY 2, 3, OR EVEN 5 YEARS JUST BECAUSE IT’S NOT A TREND ANYMORE!  Just seeing this written down still gives me mixed emotions.  I have had an almost 30-year career helping people and businesses make interior design and paint changes.  This has been my livelihood but I have to say for the most part, my clients have not been huge trend followers, but more of the timeless, classic crowd.  This is probably because I have never claimed to be a trendy designer, I always have had a bend for the timeless & classic look. 

BUT I have certainly fallen into the rabbit hole of making design & colour choices for clients to get rid of a perfectly good countertop, a tile backsplash that was “in” at one time, almost new kitchen cabinets that were not the right colour, a sofa they bought on a whim, and even brand new light fixtures in a builder’s spec house that weren’t quite right. There is always a pang of guilt when I say “sure, let’s update that…”, so thank God for the Restore and Craigslist!

I think what got me so pissed was that my industry is now like fashion, in this year and out with last year. Get rid of the not so new and shiny because we are tired of it.  Update and change, it’ll make us happy…at least in the short term.  So my dilemma lies here, eventually all the stuff ends up in a landfill either in our neighbourhood or someone else’s. All those out of date toss cushions (which don’t easily breakdown), cheap filler accessories from Wayfair or Homesense, the “now” light or plumbing fixtures, the cheap trendy furniture, all eventually end up in a landfill.  This is not sustainable.  I haven’t even touched on the manufacturing or transportation of all these goods.  This is just WRONG; a sofa should not be gotten rid of after 5 years just because it’s an old colour or old style. At least changing paint colours isn’t like throwing out polypropylene cushions, most regions have paint recycling programs.  I’m not up on the entire paint recycling process, but I understand that millions of litres of leftover paint are recycled and diverted out of landfills and from harming the environment every year. 

Recycle that old paint!

So where’s the balance? How do people’s livelihoods stay maintained while we try to live more sustainably?  Companies need to make profits and support workers, I get that.  In my own industry, clients need designers to help and guide them. We need trades people to implement those changes, it’s a BIG moving wheel that we all rely on.  I just think things have gotten out of balance. We’ve allowed ourselves to be Instagrammed, Pinterested, Facebooked, Home TV networked, blogged to, influenced by, and news fed to at an alarming rate. Trends are fun to look at, but some people live by and are controlled by them. They are in our face not just daily, but for many people-hourly. They fulfill our need to collect more, want more, and eventually get rid of more.

I certainly don’t have the answer, but I do know that next time I need to make a purchase or change a colour, I will make a more conscious effort to ask myself, “is this really going to make me happy or is it a short term fix? Can I live with this for years to come?” I will ask the same of my clients.

Let’s give more time to ask ourselves what truly resonates with us and gives us visual pleasure? Will this colour or item make you smile in 5 years or 7? Take some time to look inward before hitting the “buy now” button. Think about spending more and buying quality over disposable.  May be an extra few hundred dollars will get a better quality sofa that can last an extra 5 years. Choose a colour that makes your heart sing, not just a trendy one -and it doesn’t have to be a neutral!

Red sofas are awesome!

Remember colour is not a trend, ALL colour can be current. It evokes an emotional response, so figure out what response you want to have FIRST before choosing. The safety net is always looking at colour in nature.  It is harmonious and timeless. A pink or mauve sunrise can be breathtaking and those are colours that are probably not high on the trend list, but if they resonate with you and bring you joy then ignore the current grey and white trends! Just remember to get professional help when choosing that tone of pink or mauve!

A pink sunrise colour palette

Sheri Peterson, IACC, Vice President- IACC-NA

Accredited Colour Consultant/Interior Designer


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