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Decorating with the color green

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

Green is the new neutral

The color green is making a splash in interior design and is one of the hottest color trends for 2012. We've got tips from hot designers on decorating with green hues and product picks for bringing this trend home.
Green is the new neutral
Bedroom by Sabina Vavra

St. Patrick's Day might serve as the unofficial start of spring with its Irish green hues, but this year we'll be seeing the color green in all spectrums as it makes a splash in home decor. Tangerine Tango might be the official color of the year, but green is becoming the "it" color of the season. In House Beautiful's March 2012 issue, green was declared "the neutral that goes with everything!" Once considered a vibrant accent color, green is taking center stage in decorating color palettes.

Green is the new neutralWhy green is the new neutral

"To sum it up in a single word: versatility," says Cathy Hobbs, interior design expert and HGTV Design Star finalist. "Like a great black dress, the color green can be dressed up or dressed down and can be paired with so many colors. Best of all, there are so many shades and tones of greens to choose from." The color can create an energetic space when combined with other vibrant hues, yet can also create a sophisticated environment when paired with other classic neutrals like white, black and chocolate brown. According to Hobbs, "green is one of the few colors that is on trend, without being trendy."

Best hues to try

To find the perfect green shade to try at home, Shannon Kaye, color expert for CertaPro Painters and former host of DIY Network's Fresh Coat, recommends considering how you want to look and feel in that particular space.

Each variety of green evokes a different mood. "Olive tones are cozy and rustic, lime and chartreuse are energetic and modern, blue-greens are cool and calming and vibrant grass-greens are refreshing," says Kaye. "Think of the activities and how people will use that room to determine the color that's right for you."

Green is the new neutral
Living room by Cathy Hobbs
Green is the new neutral
Bedroom by Shannon Kaye

Shades to avoid

Some shades like neon green or a bright lime color might seem like no-brainers to avoid, but interior designer Sabina Vavra disagrees. Vavra, a co-star on the A&E series Keyshawn Johnson: Talking Design, says "the trick is not avoiding shades of green, but knowing how to use them properly and what to mix them with." For example, you wouldn't want to put a grass-green base with moss-green accents because the tones would be "negatively contrasting," but each color individually could create a beautiful space.

Green color combinations

So if green is the new neutral, what are the best colors to combine with it? Vavra says that "the beauty of using the vast hues of green lie in its ability to easily juxtapose with almost any other color in the color wheel." A personal favorite of hers is to combine emerald green, black lacquer and turquoise accents to create a vivid room.

Here are other classic green combinations:

Lime green + pink

Palm green + burnt orange

Kelly green + navy + crisp white

Pale aqua + raspberry

Sage green + silver

Trying green at home

Testing out the green decorating trend can be as simple as adding a few accent pieces or going all-out with paint. Hobbs likes using bold, rich green tones on a wall color — one of her favorite shades is Fresh Cut Grass by Mythic Paint. Patterned wallpaper like this green peony print from Farrow & Ball would look great on an accent wall.

Green is the new neutral

Not ready to fully go green? Test it out in small doses. This lime-green zigzag pillow ($33, and garden stool ($100, are perfect complements for a cozy reading chair, while this chartreuse Eiffel art piece ($159, will give an unassuming wall a pop of color.

More on color trends

The Inspiration Board: Turquoise
Spring color trends
Bold color accents

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