The Wizard of Oz would be green with envy. That icon of the Emerald City undoubtedly would agree it’s the perfect shade. So would the residents of “Downton Abbey.”

But the 2013 Color of the Year? How much Emerald can one real-life home hold?

Trend forecaster Pantone Color Institute picked Emerald — a rich bluish green — as its must-have, go-to hue for fashion and home decor. It’s a color-wheel 180 from Pantone’s 2012 Color of the Year, Tangerine Tango, and has drawn strong reaction from interior designers and home experts.

“I love the idea of emerald in our interiors,” said Sacramento interior designer Kerrie Kelly, noting that her name does give her an inclination toward green. “When using green, you can go bold with a wall or drapery treatment or keep it quiet by using it to simply accent a space through pillows and accessories. Any lacquered piece in emerald green is sure to be a showstopper.”

“What were they thinking?” said Mary Lawlor, manager of color marketing for San Francisco-based Kelly-Moore Paints. “That pick is causing quite a stir. Pantone is the industry leader, but … it’s somewhat bizarre.

“It’s kind of difficult to put it back into the home,” Lawlor added. “For many people, it’s a flashback to your parents’ living room and big green couch.”

Emerald immediately brings to mind brilliant precious gems, said Pantone’s color predictors and fashion industry experts. It’s sophisticated and luxurious.

But it’s a color invested with so much added meaning including growth, renewal, prosperity, healing and unity.

“Green is the most abundant hue in nature,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone’s executive director. “The human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum.

“As it has throughout history, multifaceted emerald continues to sparkle and fascinate,” Eiseman said. “Symbolically, emerald brings a sense of clarity, renewal and rejuvenation, which is so important in today’s complex world. This powerful and universally appealing tone translates easily to both fashion and home interiors.”

Emerald already has popped up on runway shows for major fashion designers such as Zac Posen. Makers of home fabrics and furnishings also have jewel-hued greens, ready for consumers.

“There’s been a reserved excitement around green recently,” said Gina Shaw, York Wallcovering’s vice president of product development. “We see this very usable and sophisticated emerald green — as well as lighter shades of it — trending in both apparel and home fashions this year.”

Said Jennifer McConnell, Pearson Textiles vice president of design, “The look and feel of home decor is trending toward comfort and relaxation. Deep green has long symbolized prosperity and good fortune, and this elegant emerald feels particularly serene.”

Emerald fits another over-riding trend for 2013: A longing for luxury.

That may explain our American infatuation with “Downton Abbey,” the opulent British costume drama set in an immense Victorian mansion. (Season three premieres Sunday at 9 p.m.) Coincidentally, the Earl of Grantham’s drawing room wall covering is a rich almost-emerald green.

“The word for 2013 is luxe,” said Katie Reynolds, Ace Hardware’s national design expert. “People are coming out of the lean years and they want to put the luxe back in their homes.

“In 2013, we’ll see a lot of rich colors — glamorous purples, deep browns, jewel tones,” Reynolds said. “Grays have been hot for a while, but we’ll see a lot of rich, deep tones such as slate and especially charcoal.

“I love emerald and jade,” she added. “I love the glamour and what those colors invoke.”

Bold colors lead to bold patterns. Expect to see geometric prints in home furnishings and wallpaper plus ethnic-inspired Ikat and Moroccan designs. Subtle ombre shading also is in.

As a counter to Pantone’s Emerald, some paint manufacturers have introduced their own 2013 Color of the Year. Glidden Paint, for example, named Indigo Night — a deep blue-toned purple — as its 2013 top pick.

Kelly-Moore tabbed five colors for 2013: Polenta (light yellow), Knapped Flint (dark gray), Cascade Blue, Spring Meadow (a medium green) and Blossom Park (similar to Pantone’s Honeysuckle pink, the 2011 Color of the Year).

“Yellow is not going away at all,” said Kelly-Moore’s Lawlor. “It’s a color of optimism, and it feels so good with scrubbed white. But now, yellow is softer and fresher.”

Dark grays such as Slate (in new appliances, tile and flooring) have become a popular neutral, even in kitchens. Those not-quite-blacks go great with granite and stainless steel.

“All that granite — it’s not going away either,” Lawlor noted. “You need to work with it.”

Dark purple can be dramatic, too. Sacramento’s Kelly used a the hue for a knockout dining room accented by an emerald green lacquered sideboard. “The combination creates a stunning space,” Kelly said.

Reynolds suggested using emerald in unexpected places. “It’s a wonderful accent color,” she said. “I love it inside cabinets. In an all-white kitchen, you open the cabinets and get a shot of this great emerald. It’s super unexpected.”

This jewel-box color may be just the start of a glittery new age, extending into 2014 and beyond. 


Trend forecaster Pantone Color Institute annually sets a palette for fashion and home decor, pulling from current trends, tastes and national mood. From those color swatches, Pantone names one tone as its Color of the Year.

Since picking sky-blue Cerulean in 2000 as its “Color of the Millennium,” Pantone has stuck with blue tones, choosing five different blues in 14 years (including two shades of turquoise). A lot of trend watchers thought another blue — deep ocean Monaco Blue — would be the choice for 2013, but Pantone went for deep green Emerald instead.

Over the years, some colors — such as red-hot Chili Pepper — have had more staying power than others, sticking around from several seasons. But others — such as dusky Sand Dollar — seem like a ripple on the beach, quickly fading from memory.

Here are recent Pantone’s Colors of the Year:

2013: Emerald

2012: Tangerine Tango

2011: Honeysuckle (bright pink)

2010: Turquoise

2009: Mimosa (yellow)

2008: Blue Iris

2007: Chili Pepper (red)

2006: Sand Dollar (soft beige pink)

2005: Blue Turquoise

2004: Tigerlily (red orange)

2003: Aqua Sky

2002: True Red

2001: Fuchsia Rose

2000: Cerulean