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Color Trends: What’s New, What’s Next?

Which colors will dominate decor this year? Experts share the latest research.

While you’re still deciding where to spend next year’s summer vacation, color forecasters have already predicted what color your bathing suit will be for the year.

Color forecasters are part designer, part sociologist and part predictor. They draw information from the runway, auto manufacturers and the housewares industry; they scour showrooms, trade shows and magazines for trends; they consider what’s happening culturally and how this impacts our national mood. Then they take all of that information and translate it into what colors we’ll be wearing and decorating with in the next year.

The Colors Are Coming

The housing crisis, ongoing war, historic election and economic downturn have combined to shape Americans’ color tastes. We’re searching for the color equivalent of mac and cheese: safe, traditional and comforting. But the pops of bright colors, from crimson to acid yellow, suggest that we’re ultimately hopeful about the future.

Neutrals are now, especially in larger purchases like cars, sofas or carpet. “For those big-ticket items, we’ll make the safer choice such as neutrals, from rich gray to camel,” says Emily Kiker Morrow, Director of Color, Style and Design at Shaw Industries. And, she continues, “We’re using trendier colors, like acid green or amethyst, as accent pieces.”

Denise Turner, founder of Color Turners and a color forecaster, agrees. “Neutrals continue to flourish, as companions for brighter hues or as standalone, monochromatic color schemes.”

Both color forecasters see chocolate brown on the wane, though Turner notes that brown is still the go-to color in nearly every industry, from auto manufacturing to fashion to home. The guard is changing, however, as lighter browns begin to make an appearance. Morrow says, “We’re seeing browns shift to the colors of spices and beverages. Think mocha and cinnamon.”

Which neutral might just surpass brown as the favorite? Gray. And it covers a wide range of hues, which span soft gray to charcoal to hematite, and gain interest from metallic and pearlescent accents.

Green continues to gain strength from its association with the growing shift toward eco-consciousness. It will show up in everything from fabrics to accessories to countertops.

Turner noted that, after 9/11 blue surged in popularity. This comfortable, soothing color is associated with dependability, constancy and peace — qualities Americans seek during unstable times. Now every product in the industry uses some type of blue, and many are paired with brown, from chocolate to taupe.

According to Turner, pink and red are “the colors of causes.” Think about the ribbons on our lapels to help raise awareness for breast cancer, AIDS or heart disease. But these sisters in the color family are also making their way into the home.

You’ll see red as a bold accent in black-and-white designs; and look for pink in romantic bedrooms, the modern girl’s living room or even in the kitchen, from cabinetry to appliances.

Violet came in through the back door, catching fire in the goth trend in high schools (think purple-black T-shirts, eyeliner and fingernail polish). From there it made its way to the runway and now it’s lightening as it crosses into the home; popular variations include violet, wine and true purple.

Hot Color Combos

Just as the popularity of single colors waxes and wanes, so does the popularity of color combinations.

Brown and blue has been a favorite for several years and Turner predicts it will be a favorite through 2013. Morrow agrees, though she believes that the brown will be lighter (tan, caramel and camel), rather than chocolate.

For the last few years, black and white has been a popular combination in the European market, but Turner has noticed that it’s making its way across the pond. While Morrow has seen it more in accent pieces, like textiles and wallpaper, Turner suggests it will take over entire rooms and recommends pairing it with hot accent colors like red or acid green for the latest look.

What’s Not Selling?

While you’ll see elegant gold in designs from traditional to Tuscan, don’t look for sunny true yellows in American homes (though Europeans love them).

Orange is another color that’s getting little love, unless you choose corals or an earthy, deep orange. But even then, these are used only as accents.

The trend toward violet, wine and amethyst is edging out soft lavenders or true purples. These colors, which were so popular in the 1980s, have taken a back seat to their bolder cousins.


Emily Kiker Morrow, CMG
Director of Color, Style & Design, Shaw Industries

Denise Turner, ASID, CID, CMG
Founder of Color Turners

Written By: Kelley Walters Publish Site:

Most Wearable Fashion Trends of Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Bermuda Shorts

The slouchy, cool-girl shorts that were all over the New York runways this season are perfect for every girl who never felt like she could pull off those cheek-baring cutoffs so beloved on Instagram (i.e., most of us). They’re ultra chic, fam-friendly, and flattering; seriously, what’s not to love?

Peter Som, Rag & Bone, DKNY, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Black and White

“Spring trends” might typically call to mind Easter-egg colors and happy-go-lucky floral prints, but this season, designers put the emphasis on strong black-and-white looks (OK, there were a few floral prints, too). Appropriate to wear year-round, easy to pull off at every budget, and sleek enough to work at the office or on date night, this trend is the definition of wearable.

Alexander Wang, Jason Wu, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Peekaboo Pieces

Speaking of date night, this spring you’ll have zero problem finding something sexy to wear: Daring cutouts, midriff-baring separates, up-to-there splits, and sheer fabrics were all over the runway. The beauty of this trend? There’s a peekaboo option for every body shape (and level of modesty) up for grabs.

BCBG, Cushnie et Ochs, Diane von Furstenberg, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Statement Sunglasses

Want to add a runway feel to your everyday basics? Pick up a pair of spring’s OMG-worthy sunglasses. They hit the runway in every shape and size, each pair louder and more fabulous than the next. (Case in point: Google’s augmented reality glasses even took a turn on the catwalk.)

Anna Sui, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Diane von Furstenberg, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Bold Stripes

If those Rorschach-esque digital prints are too OTT for your style, take spring’s big, bold, uncomplicated stripes for a spin instead. With denim, they’re all-American; with navy, they’re nautical-chic; and worn head-to-toe, they’re just plain cool. Bonus: You’ll definitely be able to wear them for seasons—even years—to come.

Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Luxe Leather

Time-honored and fashionista-approved, a luxe leather piece is more than worth adding to your spring shopping list. Minimalistic shapes, rich colors, and a no-fuss approach to the hair, makeup, and accessories that complete the look make these investment items seem like they’re from 2013, not 1983. (And with spring clothes hitting stores in February, there’s no need to stress about the sweat factor.)

Derek Lam, Monique Lhuillier, Proenza Schouler, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Beautiful Beading

After fall 2012’s whirlwind of brocade, fur, and embellishment, it was no surprise to see a little razzle-dazzle on the spring catwalks. You could see influences everywhere from India and the Middle East to Russia, and it made for some seriously stunning evening wear. Push that itchy, too shiny sequined minidress to the back of your closet, gals. You won’t be needing it for a while.

Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra, Marchesa, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Shorts Suits

If you buy one thing this spring, make it a shorts suit. This look was on dozens of runways in New York and is the ideal blend of “guy hot” (hel-lo, legs) and “girl hot” (Annie Hall, anyone?). They’re purposeful, versatile, and office-appropriate, and we’re betting you’ll be able to find all-star versions of this must-have at every price point come 2013.

Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Helmut Lang, Spring 2013


Spring 2013 Trend: Sporty Dresses

Spring’s sporty dresses—with their flirty A-line skirts and shoulder-showcasing bodices—are going to distract quite a few dudes next season, we guarantee it. We love them because they work just as easily with wedges and high-heel sandals as they do with comfy canvas sneakers. Go all Saved by the Bell with the addition of a collegiate cardigan or letterman jacket.

DKNY, Rag & Bone, Victoria Beckham, Spring 2013

Spring 2013 Trend: Flats and Low Heels

Sexy ’90s pointy heels are back and have been modernized with everything from dainty ankle straps to cylindrical heels. There will always be a moment for four-inch pumps (and that moment is date night), but these ladylike heels are such a nice option to have on hand. Extra cool points if you wear them with slouchy boyfriend jeans or Bermuda shorts to brunch with the girls.

Peter Som, Marc Jacobs, Spring 2013

Written By: Megan Gustashaw Publish Site:

Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Tax Credits for 2013

The reinstatement of the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012 amends section 25C of the tax code, which details nonbusiness energy property tax credits, and extends these credits until December 31, 2013. Changes made to this section apply to property placed in service after 2011.  Previously, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 extended section 25C by one year through 2011. It also largely returned the structure of the provision as it existed prior to the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), with some tighter requirements for improvements to qualify.

Between 2011 and 2013, there are differing credit values for different types of energy efficiency improvements. Some of the technical criteria for eligibility are also changed.

Who gets it? Individuals who install specific energy-efficient home improvements in their primary residences, which they own.

What energy-efficient home improvements are eligible? The overall $500 cap can be reached in several ways with the purchase and installation of energy-efficient products that meet certain efficiency criteria:

  • Exterior windows: Includes skylights and storm windows.
  • Insulation, exterior doors or roofs: Includes seals to limit air infiltration, such as caulk, weather stripping and foam sealants, as well as storm doors.
  • Central air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, boiler, water heater or biomass (e.g. corn) stove. A separate credit applies for geothermal heatpump systems.

In addition, to be eligible for the federal tax credits:

  • Windows, doors, insulation and roofs must be expected to last at least five years (a two-year warranty is sufficient to demonstrate this).
  • Manufacturers can certify (in packaging or on the company’s website) which of their products qualify for the tax credit. Retailers, contractors and manufacturers should be able to help you determine what levels of insulation and what other products qualify.
  • All the improvements must be installed in or on the taxpayer’s principal residence in the United States. Condo and co-op improvements are apportioned to the owners proportionally.

How much is the credit? The tax credit amount is now 10 percent of the cost of building envelope improvements, excluding labor costs and limited to $200 for windows, and specific dollar limits for heating and cooling equipment. There is a cap on the credit amount of $500 for fiscal years 2006 through 2013 combined; if you have ever claimed this credit in the past, it counts against the $500 limit (but does not affect the $1500 limit available for 2009 and 2010). So, for example, if you claimed $300 in 2007, you can only claim $200 in 2011; if you claimed $800 in 2009, you cannot claim any more credit.

When is it available? The home improvements tax credit applies for improvements “placed in service” from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013. The IRS defines “placed in service” as when the products or materials are ready and available for use – this would essentially always refer to the installation, not the purchase.

What do I need to do to get the tax credit? You will need to file IRS Form 5695 with your taxes. However, tax forms reflecting the tax credit extensions under the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012 are yet to be released. In addition, you will need to keep at least receipts proving that you purchased the improvements and a copy of the manufacturer’s certification. Accountants and tax advisors should also be able to provide more guidance.

IRS guidance on the credits for 2012 should be forthcoming. It will presumably substantially mirror guidance provided for the 2006 and 2007 credit, although some of the eligibility criteria have changed:

Credit values and requirements for property placed in service between 2011 and 2013:

  • The total credit cannot exceed $500, must be installed on a taxpayer’s principal residence in the United States, and be reasonably expected to last at least five years. The $500 limit applies to cumulative claims for this credit dating back to 2006.
  • For advanced air circulating fans, boilers, water heaters, heat pumps, air conditioners, and biomass stoves, the credit values listed are technically 100 percent of costs, including labor, up to that value, but in practice any of these improvements can be expected to earn this maximum value.
  Value of Credit Eligibility Criteria
Insulation or insulating material 10% of cost. Meets the criteria required by the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code.
Exterior window or skylight 10% of cost, up to $200. Meets ENERGY STAR requirements.
Exterior door 10% of cost Meets ENERGY STAR requirements.
Metal roof with pigmented coating, or asphalt roof with cooling granules 10% of cost Meets ENERGY STAR requirements.
Advanced main air circulating fan $50 Electricity use of no more than 2% of total energy used by the furnace.
Natural gas, propane, or oil furnace or hot water boiler $150 Annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rate not less than 95.
Electric heat pump water heater $300 Energy factor of at least 2.0.
Electric heat pump $300 Meets the highest efficiency tier set by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency for 2009: SEER of at least 15, an EER of at least 12.5, and an HSPF of at least 8.5.
Central air conditioner $300 Meets the highest efficiency tier set by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency for 2009: SEER of at least 16 and an EER of at least 13 for most air conditioners.
Natural gas, propane, or oil water heater $300 Energy factor of at least .82 or a thermal efficiency rating of at least 90%.
Biomass stove $300 Thermal efficiency rating of at least 75%.
Heats a dwelling or water for use in a dwelling.
Fueled by plant-derived fuel.

Written By: The Alliance to Save Energy®  Published On:

Finding the Right Art for Your Home

Although we don’t talk about it as much, one of the biggest dilemmas when decorating a home isn’t what colour to paint the walls — it’s what to hang on them.

Choosing art is an intimidating business. It’s so personal, we tend to get a bit paranoid about what those pictures say about us. Is it too loud, too mundane, too flowery? Is it any good? If you aren’t an art critic, how can you tell?

Well, as with everything else in your home, the only issue is how you feel about it. Art, whether it’s a poster or an oil painting, is a strong communicator. A picture can set a mood, make you think, drive your imagination and arouse memories. An image can make you feel good just seeing it and no matter how many times you see it, the magic doesn’t wear off. If you are having difficulty starting your own collection, here are a few guidelines I’ve used that work well.

To begin with, don’t fret if you are on a budget. Art posters, photo blow-ups, even fabrics all look good on a wall. Custom framing can be costly, so look for ready-made frames, new or old, and size the image to fit. There are also framing shops that supply all the required materials and allow you to do the framing right there.

You’ll find an excellent selection of posters at museum and art gallery shops, and poster stores generally carry pictures that span the theme spectrum from old film bills and travel ads to beautiful botanicals. Keep an eye out for local college art exhibitions. This is a great way to find inexpensive art and to support up-and-coming artists.

Photographs look good in a series blown up to a comfortable scale for viewing. Black and white photos framed in black are simple and smart.

Heirloom fabrics such as tapestries can be hung on their own, or frame smaller pieces for a great effect. At the Interior Design Show in Toronto this year I was intrigued by a room created by Interior Designer Jill Greaves. It was the artwork that drew me in. Framed images of large, friendly-looking animals welcomed me into the living room and I wanted to rest awhile in their company.

A friendly grouping of animal prints welcomes family and guests in this inviting living space.

Greaves explained that animal prints work well in almost any space. People relate to them; they are a good neutral subject more understandable than abstract pictures, more interesting than landscapes. The key to using animal images successfully is to make sure they are more graphic than realistic. The animal prints seen here are actually framed tea towels. The strong graphic images and texture of the linen worked well with a series of identical frames in different sizes.

When you are ready to purchase a more expensive work of art, consider where you will hang it. A small painting will be lost on a big wall. Greaves suggests that you can mix various types of art, however, because of the different characteristics of each type it is important to make sure that you are putting pieces together that flatter each other and the space they are in. That large wall requires a large canvas or triptych, which is a series of three images that are each self-sufficient but link to each other and are meant to be displayed as a single piece of art.

Written By: Debbie Travis Publish Date: Sat Jun 23 2012 at 11:19:10 A.M. Photo Source: Debbie Travis