Trends in paint colors take their cues from the runways where fashions by names like Versace and Dior appear. While it used to take as long as five years, now that transition happens in 18 months or less.
Sheri Thompson, director of color marketing and design for Sherwin-Williams, thinks that's because of the proliferation of television home shows and home décor magazines. Benjamin Moore senior marketing manager Jeff Spillane agrees. "HGTV and all the TV design shows you can watch 24/7 give people the confidence to go and try something new. Paint is the least expensive and most dramatic way to change a room."
Thompson credits another popular phenomenon, though, for making brown what she sees as the No. 1 color in paint these days. "One of the biggest catalysts is our fascination with coffee," she says. "Brown is versatile. Because of its flexibility, it's here to stay as a classic color."
Deep navy blues and teal–a lighter version than its 1980s predecessor–also are strong this year, she says. Golden-toned yellows will warm accent walls, she adds, and purples will darken to almost a black purple, while reds will take on an orange tinge.
Homeowners are becoming more daring with color, Spillane acknowledges. Even so, traditional white remains strong: It's still Benjamin Moore's biggest- selling color.
Bud Killam likes American Pride paint so much that he's selling the zero-VOC product. That's remarkable because Killam is not a professional retailer but a painting contractor.
"The more I did research, the more I understood about paint that even using low-odor paint was exposing homeowners and workers to toxins," says the president of Framingham, Mass.-based Painters Pride. "I like it and believe in the philosophy and the market trend."
American Pride is a Green Seal-certified product of Southern Diversified Products in Hattiesburg, Miss. It's among a growing number of natural or organic, low-biocide, and milk paints.
Natural and organic products don't contain synthetic ingredients. They can be water- or oil-based and may include oils such as citrus, castor, or soy. One product, Auro Natural Paints and Finishes, takes longer to dry than most conventional paints, but spokesperson Scott Egide says it offers better coverage. "And natural products have a life to them that makes them good to be around."
Low-biocide paints offer reduced levels of preservatives and fungicides. Furthermore, milk paints are made from milk protein and earth pigments, such as lime and iron oxide. They come powdered and require both mixing and tinting on site; historically, milk paint was commonly used before paint became commercially available.