When Benjamin Moore announced last week that its 2016 pick for color of the year was Simply White, design writers across the country rushed to judgment:
“Benjamin Moore Has Completely Given Up On Picking Out A Color,” blasted the Huffington Post in a headline and devoted a large chunk of space to show how little difference there was between a paint card of Simply White and a computer screen background.
“Huh?” questioned The Washington Post home and design writer Jura Koncius. “How could a plain vanilla get such an exalted ranking?”
At Least It’s Not Marsala
Simply White is certainly a safer choice than Marsala, Pantone’s controversial 2015 Color of the Year and less fun than Coral Reef, Sherwin-Williams 2015 pick.
But some home design experts agree with Ellen O’Neil, Benjamin Moore’s creative director, who said that white is “transcendent, powerful (and) not just a design trend (but) a design essential.”
Architectural Digest writer Hannah Martin calls Simply White, a hue on display at January’s Maison et Objet in Paris, a “sleeper hit.” She gives O’Neil great latitude in describing the detective work involved in choosing Simply White among Benjamin Moore’s 3,500 paint choices, and says herself that Simply White is an “inconspicuous hue that often slips off the color wheel and into invisibility (and) is the shade that captures today’s spirit of polished minimalism. It’s the color we forget how much we love.”
Mackenzie Schmidt, senior associate editor of Lonny, says her initial reaction to Benjamin Moore’s paint choice was as lackluster as the color itself but, after some consideration, decided “It’s clean and modern and fresh… And this is a really nice white. It’s crisp, but not institutional. Bright, but not harsh.”
More Calm Paint Color Choices
Benjamin Moore is not the only paint company to choose neutral shades for 2016.
Behr released a color palette of 20 shades that includes grays, black, beige and pastels. There are a few pops of color included in the palette, but Behr is concentrating more on texture – matte ceilings and high gloss trim, for example — than stark color contrasts, says Erika Woelfel, Behr’s vice president of color marketing.
“With all of the palettes, what is really important is the matte effect on walls and contrast, such as a high gloss on the trim or sheen on the ceiling,” said Woelfel.
Paint companies have made a “definite break from statement colors of past years to trend back toward the mid-century modern shades of the 1950s and ’60s and the alternately earthy or funky hues of the 1970s,” writes Rosa Colucci, of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
Glidden also chose a soft white as its 2016 headliner paint. It calls Cappuccino White a “calm, sensitive, creamy neutral (that) creates a sense of delicacy and graceful design that promotes wellness, purity, mindfulness, balance, privacy and peace.”
It’s tempting to think that Glidden spent more time describing than choosing Cappuccino White, because PPG, its parent company, goes on to say, ‘It is the color of seashells and ocean-smooth rocks” and adds (in case you didn’t know that white doesn’t clash with any color), that it “pairs well with delicate pastels and light neutrals.”
Two other PPG brands – Pittsburgh Paints and Olympic Paints and Stains – chose 2016 colors that will force you to think about how they’ll work with the rest of your home’s décor.
Pittsburgh Paints chose Paradise Found, a “serious green” inspired, in part, by urban militia fashion trends. And Olympic chose a bolder color, Blue Cloud, “an unapologetic blue that is easily noticed.”
A color that gets noticed! This might make you want to cheer even if you hate the color blue. And it sure makes me curious about what Pantone and Sherwin-Williams will reveal as their choices for Color of the Year 2016.