The newest colors and design trends for 2022 are a refreshing mix of light natural neutrals as well as some unexpected accents. It cannot be emphasized enough that the pandemic has impacted consumer behavior, from the basic human need to feel safe, to the need to escape and see all the good in the world.
From studying colors over the centuries, we know that color causes the most basic physiological reactions, from slowing down pulse rates and breathing to pupils dilating. Color matters on every level. Humankind has responded to color as a means of survival, courtship, and so much more. That said, today, our needs are more important than ever before as the preferences impact economies and the bottom line.
As we all quarantined in place in 2020, we needed to be comforted by the colors and finishes of the interiors where we sheltered. 2021 was not much different, except that everyone had expectations that this would be a better year and COVID-19 would be gone from our lives. That was not to be so. Experiences varied from state to state, depending on the level of mandates. It seemed that the sunshine states became the biggest beneficiary, as people flocked from major metropolitan areas to states like Florida and Texas. In this time frame, however, so many felt like it was “Groundhog Day” over and over again and began to feel the urge to escape somewhere, anywhere.
Streaming television networks experienced massive viewership. They fed the appetites of their audiences with shows like “Yellowstone,” “All Creatures Great and Small,” “Around the World in 80 Days,” and “The Crown” (to name a few). Several of these shows caught the attention of designers and architects for their application of color as per the period and location of the show. Case in point, Architectural Digest featured articles on “All Creatures Great and Small” as well as “Around the World in 80 Days.” Further, dozens of editorials were written on the impact of “Yellowstone” on purchasing products that were carefully placed in scenes. Dodge Ram trucks, Coors beer, cowboy boots, and the rustic elegant design aesthetic of the Dutton Family log home sparked a renewed interest in all things western.
This brings us to our 2022 Color Itinerary of the Year. Our eight colorful stops include things and places where we either wished to go or traveled to. Although international destinations may have been less popular, American tourists certainly made up for it by hitting the national parks, ski slopes, beaches, lakes, and hiking trails.
Yellowstone was one of the “color stops” where both the spirit of the hit show and the actual national park represented similar trends, the need for freedom. Humankind has the most basic desire for freedom to roam, and a love for nature. Beyond the inspiration of bison and majestic mountain ranges, we find color connection in the rich and warm earth tones, golden hues, and brown-based neutrals.
Safari Away speaks to the life-changing experience of seeing (and feeling) the thunderous great migration of Tanzania and Kenya wildebeests across the Masai Mara. From flooring to interiors and fashion, the safari color palette is not only pleasing to the eye, but also calming and soothing to the soul. Somewhere in the deepest, most hardwired parts of our very being, we connect to nature. Trees, green foliage, and blue skies cause our senses to feel calm and at peace. Taking the colors into interiors is easy for designers to do since the colors from nature work together in harmony. Sun-baked bone whites, golden-tans, giraffe-spot browns, and the grayed-browns of the wildebeests, although exotic in origin, feel right at home in the home. Interiors over the centuries have long included zebra patterned rugs and leopard print upholstery.
Our third color story is Yacht White, the bright white one can expect on the deck of a luxury yacht as it glides across the white foamy surf of the ocean. Yacht White is the ideal example of our desire for blue water, sunshine, and a need to escape the everyday humdrum. The coastal luxe look can be adapted easily to cottage style, where the undercurrent trend is to look high-maintenance without being high-maintenance.
Fourth in our color journey is Oyster Shell. Who doesn’t enjoy walking along the beach in search of seashells? One of the happiest memories of most people probably includes finding that very first seashell and seeing the luxurious interior of mother of pearl. The lustrous interior is such a stark contrast to the rugged gray-white-brown exterior that has to be shucked to be enjoyed as an oyster or to find the pearl inside.
Although our journeys have been slowed down during the past few years, we continue to seek out new destinations whether they are reached by land, sea, or air. Runways and highways are where our journeys are launched. Runway, the fifth color story, features hardwood flooring that is gray-brown in color. These colors are not gray overall, but have the influence of taupe and gray in the undertone of the wood color.
Moonglow is our sixth color stop of the journey and is inspired by the lunar glow of moonlight, the full moon, the blood moon, the blue moon, and any other reference to the moon. The color of the moon can change depending on its phase or time of year. Each one casts a gorgeous glow and is the most flattering light source.
On our second to the last stop of our journey, Ode to Home speaks to our favorite place in the world, other than a destination away, home sweet home. Ode to Home is inspired by that warm and comforting cup of coffee, the comfort of cuddling up in a cozy chair with a dog (or cat). Ode to Home is especially important since we spend more time at home than any other place, and the indoor air quality and the safety of materials we choose for our homes are essential. An organic brownish-grayish neutral backdrop allows an endless variety of furnishings to look as if they were all custom colored for the space.
Our final color stop is an homage to legendary actress Betty White by its name Betty Blanc. Spawning from the years’ past successes in gesso-inspired whites, Betty Blanc has staying power, can be found in interiors, exteriors, and furnishings colors. Starting back in 2018 and even before, homeowners have been painting their exteriors white and off-white, finding the change mood lifting. The same can be said for the interiors as well. Betty Blanc as a color, and a trend, works nicely and easily with new construction and renovation projects. Spinning off the cottage style, the farmhouse style, and even the hygge style, the creamy off-white rage continues to grow.
The 2022 Color Itinerary of the Year tells an important story, tying together the desire to experience the world with the essence of what we cherish about coming home.
Emily Morrow Finkell is an interior designer, owner of EF Floors & Design, and an NWFA design contributor. She lives in Dalton, Georgia, and can be reached at email@example.com.