The role of color in a home can be transformative. With a number of new home colors on offer this year from various paint companies, homeowners will find inspiration in a collection of new shades, from dramatic to subtle.

Paint color wheel against a blue background
New home color trends in 2023 return to bold choices, jewel tones and nature-inspired hues. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

The psychology of color

Looking at the color trends for this year and why they are so popular, it can be helpful to understand how various colors are perceived visually and neurologically. There is a direct correlation between color and mood, which is a relationship often studied by marketers and psychologists alike.

This awareness of the relationship between color and mood is one of the key components driving color trends, as homeowners become more educated and strategic with decor choices.

There is psychology associated with all colors. Because color can impact emotion, controlling color exposure can direct mood and action. This is why marketing campaigns might adopt certain color strategies to stir excitement and compel people to buy, whereas a spa might have a soothing color palette to create calm for patrons.

Here are some of the most commonly used colors and their potential influences:

Red is known to raise blood pressure and is thought to raise metabolism. It is associated with strong, passionate emotions. It’s a color that is known to incite action which is why it is so commonly used in marketing.

Blue is a color associated with calm and repose. Its cool tones create trust and a sense of peace. You’ll see blue often in doctors’ offices and hospitals, because of its soothing qualities. It’s a popular choice at spas as well.

Green, not surprisingly, is the color that evokes the experience of nature. It is about healing, restoration and growth. Green is nurturing and suggests harmony.

Yellow is happy and sunshiny and is known to make people feel optimistic and spontaneous. Yellow stimulates brain activity and encourages critical thinking (perhaps the reasoning for the yellow light transition in a traffic light, encouraging motorists to assess their surroundings and proceed with caution).

If there was such a thing as a color extrovert, it would be orange. Orange is buoyant, bubbly and fun. It blends the strong emotional response of red with the happiness of yellow. Orange, because of its playful attributes, is another color that is commonly used in marketing. 

Purple is a color that says power, often associated with regality and nobility. It’s also associated with ambition and luxury. Purple is thought to be a harmonious color because it simultaneously inspires creativity and promotes critical thinking, engaging both sides of the brain.

White is associated with innocence, clarity and cleanliness and projects feeling of safety. White is a color that functions well on its own (and is very popular) or is commonly used to create space or quiet in contrast with other colors.

Black exudes mystery, strength and elegance, but emotionally it has some negative connotations, like sadness and fear. As a color strategy, black is an excellent choice for contrast and decor drama, and when paired with other colors, like white for example, elevates the aesthetic.

Pink has a calming effect, pulling back aggressive feelings, with lighter pinks thought to be most soothing. Pink is commonly used in jail cells with the goal of pacifying angry prisoners. More saturated pinks that lean closer to the red end of the spectrum, like magenta and hot pinks, are energizing and inspiring.

What’s driving the trends?

While many of the new colors this year are across the spectrum, they seem to derive from a common purpose: to satisfy homeowners’ growing desire to create a comfortable, nurturing environment in their homes.

This desire ramped up in real-time during extended periods at home during the early pandemic, and was re-enforced in the years afterwards. Along with the realization of the multiple purposes that homes fulfil (live/work/learn/play), came a profound awareness of how homes, and the design and decor choices inside, make homeowners feel.

With time having passed from height of the pandemic, those lessons from staying home have had a chance to distill and now have manifested into design elements and colors. As a result, homeowners are becoming more aware of the emotional responses that different colors evoke, and are keen to create environments that are supportive.

In terms of translating this experience to paint colors, companies typically look to the consumers and what they value most to create colors that ultimately drive the trends.

At the top of the list, consumers have expressed priorities of health and well-being at home.

For example, Behr tapped into perceived relationship between white and well-being, in developing their choice for 2023 color of the year, aptly named Blank Canvas.

“We thought about lifestyle and design trends. People are looking for versatility and comfort. After years of uncertainty amid the pandemic, we wanted to deliver a color that would provide a sense of renewal,” Erika Woelfel, vice president of Color and Creative Services with Behr, told LIvabl.

Additionally, they looked to shades that were bestsellers, with white being top of the list before they fine-tuned their selection.

“With so many options to choose from, we wanted to spotlight the most versatile shade of white for any project, and Blank Canvas was an easy decision. Blank Canvas is a go-to white for countless projects for homeowners, professional painters, designers, and more,” says Woelfel.

Bright & bold is back

Although white remains a popular choice, colors this year aren’t all muted shades. Homeowners are also seeking colors that inspire, in hopes of creating an environment that promotes creativity and productivity, leaning in to more dramatic shades.

“I feel like homeowners are no longer afraid to take bolder colors and incorporate them,” says color expert and consultant Amy Wax.

“They are open to more combinations and things that are outside the box. These colors also give homeowners new opportunity to personalize their spaces. They can choose the colors that feel right for them and do as little color or as much color as they want by finding those colors that are exciting personally for them,” says Wax.

In addition to a number of pleasing neutrals, there are splashy and rich jewel tones being promoted this year, along with nature-inspired colors tilting towards the red and coral end of the spectrum.

The earth tone palette is shifting

Also notable with this year’s new home colors, the concept of earth tones, which often introduce neutrality into decor, has expanded.

Traditionally, earth tones have been associated with browns, greys and the ubiquitous greige. These are colors that have occupied the color palette, especially in new builds, for much of the last decade. But there is a new perspective and new colors to match.

“We normally think of earth tones as being a little bit dull and boring, and understated like in the beige and tan family, but earth tones have overlapped more into dual tone territory,” says Wax.

For example, green is more commonly being as neutral for color pairing and contrast, as opposed to beige or white.

Green living room with grey furniture
Green is trending in 2023. Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Expanding on earth tones may be the result of the popular biophilic design trend, where the overarching goal is to use color and materials to replicate the experience of being immersed in nature. And nature, of course, provides a diverse, nuanced palette of color.

The growth of biophilia may also stem from experiences at home during the pandemic, where homeowners valued outdoor space at home as an extension of indoor space. For design, this means blurring the distinction between indoors and out authentically.

Colors for 2023 give tools to recreate a natural experience with greater depth and homeowners are more willing to take the risk because of the aesthetic and emotional payoff.  “Now we are going one step further with color and introducing the rusty oranges, greens and coral reds. We’re kind of digging a little deeper and it feels good,” says Wax.

New home colors for 2023

Every year, paint companies release their selections for their promoted colors of the year. This year’s crop reflects the growing trends towards wellness and comfort, bold self-expression and décor drama.

In 2022, many of the trending colors were in the green family. In 2023, green is very much still on the forefront, but other colors that tap into nature and colors associated with natural environments are emerging as well.

In addition to being inspired by tree canopies, fields of grass and moss-covered forests, the colors this year are richly refreshing, taking cues from shades seen in the sky, sunrise/sunset, soil, water, plants and flowers, creating a more authentic natural experience.

Sherwin Williams has selected Redend Point for their color of the year for 2023, which is a dusky pink-beige blend. It’s a good example of how earth tones have extended their position on the color palette this year, with this color combining the pleasure of soft pinks with the earthy warmness from beige. This color is considered a neutral, but it has a little more depth to its neutrality.

Both Pantone and Benjamin Moore’s selections for color of the year lead the charge for the bold tones that foster self-expression for homeowners not afraid of color.

Pantone’s Viva Magenta is a highly-saturated pop of pink, that Pantone describes as “assertive, but not aggressive”. It’s meant to be a color to motivate and encourage perseverance. It draws its color inspiration from nature (the cochineal beetle to be exact).

Similarly, Benjamin Moore’s Raspberry Blush is vivacious blend of corals and pinks that energizes. Benjamin Moore describes this color as “unapologetic” and “charismatic”. It’s a great choice for an eye-popping accent wall, or to apply to accents in a room for smaller pops of color throughout.

Glidden Paint PPG’s choice of Vining Ivy for their color of the year is a pleasing blue-green jewel tone that is clean and classic. Glidden attributes the blue-green hue to the consumer’s desire to explore the world, balanced against the need to stay grounded, underscored by comfort and safety at home. This botanical beauty is versatile and appropriate for homeowners who are testing their tolerance for bold colors, as it is rich but not overpowering.

Krlyon’s Spanish Moss builds on last year’s predominant trend of green. This spray paint has a decidedly vintage vibe coupled with a modern, clean finish, with hints of natural elements.  It is a popular choice with DIY homeowners recycling or upcycling furniture and pairs well with metallic accents. 

Sometimes subtlety leads to a starring role, as is the case with Behr’s choice for 2023 color of the year: Blank Canvas. And just like its name sounds, this soothing color is the ultimate backdrop for homeowners to make the most of their homes.

Blank Canvas, is a hopeful and welcoming warm white with limitless possibilities,” says Woelfel.

Using 2023 colors at home

While each room doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the same color, it is important for the overall look of a home to be cohesive, colorfully speaking.

That may mean picking shades that might be in opposition to each other, but complement each other. It’s a good idea to consult a designer or to use an app that suggests combinations that work and that incorporate new colors. Wax has developed a color app calledColor 911to help homeowners narrow down color themes.

Wax encourages consumers to pay attention to which colors not only catch their eye, but elicit a positive emotional response, and to use those colors as a starting point. “When you see colors that feel like they represent you or they feel comfortable to you. There’s an emotional response. It feels good,” she says.

From there, consider pairings and contrasts to establish a color theme, which will provide an organic framework for color theme to happen naturally.

“Using a color palette or color theme as your guide makes it personal and makes choosing colors a whole lot easier, because you’re not starting from scratch,” says Wax.

For homeowners wishing to stay in neutral color territory, a good strategy is to apply a quiet, but comfortable color backdrop, like with selections from the white family, and to pair this shade with more prominent colors through accents, whether with other paint, art or furniture to achieve their design objectives.

Of Behr’s color of the year, Woelfel says, “Paired with warm or cool neutrals, the warmth of Blank Canvas creates balance in restful spaces, such as bathrooms and bedrooms, or a home office where the goal is work and focus.”

For homeowners who are ready to embrace bold and beautiful new colors that are darker or more saturated, there are additional considerations. Dark colors will either make a room feel energized and inspiring, or small and cramped, so details matter.

Designer and color consultant Christina Kittelstad of Spiral Design Color Consulting advises homeowners weighing out dark color options, a cautious approach is best to start.

“Dark colors may be on trend, but may not be your own personal design style. Stick with what you love, but test the waters with one dark feature wall to see if you love it then expand to other walls,” she says.

“Consider a muted green lounge or bar room, a cozy study, a high gloss powder room, or a rich, teal dining room,” says Kittelstad.

Making sure there is enough natural lighting is also important in making a room with dark colors feel spacious.

“Bring in more natural lighting through exposing all windows, adding a window, using lighter window treatments or none at all. Install bright overhead lighting such as a beautiful crystal chandelier that bounces light around the room,” says Kittelstad.

“If a room is naturally dark and full of shadows, such as an enclosed powder room, use it to your advantage and go with a dark color, in a high gloss sheen and add a large, bright light fixture to balance it out while bringing drama,” she says.

Using light accents against dark colors is also a good strategy to create balance.

“Be sure keep the room simple and not over cluttered with too much decor or furnishings, so there is room for the eye to carry and create the illusion of more space,” says Kittelstad.

Communities featured in this article

More articles like this