141. A Rant: How Can Color Go Out-of-Style?

Editor’s Note: The writer has never in her adult life claimed to be in style or cared about being in style. Yet, like everyone who has eyes and ears, the writer is affected by what she sees, so in that case, we are all affected by what is in style, whether we want to be (or care) or not. 

This post has been swirling around in my head and on my computer for months. It’s been edited and re-edited. Mostly it just irritates me that there are Colors of the Year. Indeed, how can a color go in and out of style?

ColorWheelJewel tones? lush emerald, dark ruby red, and midnight blue. Beautiful always, yes?

Nature tones? pine green, autumn rust, walnut brown? Beautiful always, yes?

Brights? sunny yellow, lime green, sky blue? Beautiful always, yes?

Designers and style companies tell us that the number one way to sell your house faster is to get rid of those “out-of-style” paint colors and “do fresh.” Shabbiness and fading aside, I’d just like to point out that the colors we’re being told to paint over now, are the colors we were told to paint then.

Earlier this year (when we still had a house on the real estate market) Zillow sent me an article called Top 5 Home Design Trends of 2015. I don’t know why I read it; curiosity, I guess. But it just irritated me greatly. (Judging from the comments, this was true for many people…) So in case, you care about such things, midnight blue is in, coral and other Bright Colors are out — according to this particular designer. I’m not sure how she could proclaim that coral is out, but she did. Perhaps it is now called Melon?

A few years ago I remember reading that the new bright colors reflected the happy, positive mood of consumers. I guess we’re not happy any longer… (I’m very glad that Midnight Blue is back in, though. I painted a dining room wall that color in 1982; I loved it then, and I still love that color now.)

About fifteen years ago my daughter wanted a mint green formal for the senior prom. We went to every JoAnn Fabric store in Western PA (and there are a lot!) until finally some nice clerk at the fabric counter took pity on me. No, she told us. You can’t get that color this year. It just isn’t being made. You can get this pretty celery green, instead?

This is just one of the RGB charts available from My Practical Skills, a design student's dream site.

This is just one of the RGB color charts available from My Practical Skills, a design student’s dream site. Can you pick the shades that are in style?

Yes, we can’t have everything all the time, but for ten years I looked for deep forest green accessories to go with a rug — pillows, curtains, fabric, bedspread — anything!

Nothing — that’s what I found. So if a color is not “in” just wait ten years until your rug wears out…

Yes, there are way more important issues in the world, but isn’t this symptomatic of our Western culture of materialism? Planned obsolescence — if the color is out-of-style then we’re likely to replace it, aren’t we? That deep, dark green that is the color of pine trees? Out? Outre? Not available? Because a bunch of industry leaders in a board room got together and decreed it, so they can sell more stuff in a different “updated” shade of green?

In my humble opinion :-) color should not be associated with in style or out-of-style. If you want to call my shirt or my couch or my lamp out of fashion, fine. But leave color out of it.

I found the tablecloth below– unopened in its original package — in an antique store last fall. I loved the colors, and they go in my dining room perfectly. I know that the tablecloth is probably out, but I. Don’t. Care. It’s perfect, and I smile every time I put it on the table. Isn’t that what color is about?

And the color on my dining room wall?

Yep, I still love that deep forest green of pine trees. Only now it’s back in. Just don’t call it Forest Green.

12 thoughts on “141. A Rant: How Can Color Go Out-of-Style?

  1. Haha! Why don’t you tell us how you REALLY feel?! :)
    I agree with you…use what you like, paint your walls what makes you happy…Besides, if it’s not “in style now”, it may be by this time next year.


  2. You are right and I recently had the conversation with my cousin, who is about to redo her kitchen. Our home was completed in 2013 and is still the warm beige and tan earth colors of the last ten years. Rich, dark wood floors. But now, the colors on the home improvement shows have gone cold–grey, marble, stark white. Midnight blue. Which I also like, but holy moly.


    • I love earth colors too. And how can the style mavens say they are out? There’s nothing like a dark, rich wood floor. I just wish we wouldn’t be so darned impressed by what media tells us to like… :-)


  3. I try to stay away from “big box store” home improvement. Who are they to tell me what colors I can have? And, all too often, if I happen across a home improvement piece, I prefer the before pictures.


    • Oh, this made me smile. It happens to me too! I just always figured, Oh I’m weird. I always like the old stuff. (Except seventies orange — I can do without that.) Glad to hear I’m not the only one! :-)

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  4. Great thoughts on colors. I’ve been considering what to do with my various rooms. The kitchen is the only one that has the colors I decided on. The rest need an update and I’m leaning in the direction of colors I like verses what is in fashion. Thanks for the push in the direction of bucking the design trends. :-)


  5. Yes, choose colors that are pleasing to you! Looking at magazines for home improvement or HGTV shows tend to make me feel dissatisfied with what I have. There is nothing wrong with what I have, but my perception changes with the magazines and TV shows. So I quit watching them. So there, consumer world!


    • Oh yes. Good for you! Here in the country we just have an old sixties TV antenna on the roof. It’s unsightly, but it’s free. And thank goodness we don’t get HGTV. I could’ve become an addict.


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