Color Trends for 2012: Balance to Preservation

A year ago, I attended Benjamin Moore’s ColorPulse 2011 and blogged about it here. 2011 Color Trends followed the theme of “Balance” illustrated through four trends: 1) Farm, 2) Order, 3) Escape and 4) Tribe.

After attending the 2012 ColorPulse event, I observed that some elements of these trends that are predicted to evolve into 2012, per the Benjamin Moore ColorPulse Color Trends report. Just as last year, these trends are a direct reflection of our environment.

There is an interesting trend identified in the 2012 forecast- Preservation. It is a curious reflection of our current economic and social climate. The overall desire to connect our past with our future. Perhaps context and relativity gives us a better sense of control in uncharted waters.

Preservation is broken out into 4 trends:

  1. Heritage – our past
  2. Process – our journey
  3. Protection – our vulnerability
  4. Enlightenment – our future

As we go through each element, think about how each trend relates to your own situation.


There is a comfort that comes from preserving your own history and the heritage of our world. We need to celebrate our heritage through time. This fits with fashion trends towards nostalgic and vintage clothing as well.

Some indigenous design trends to be watching for include:

  • Native geometrics and contemporary serape patterns
  • Fossils, fire and ice influences
  • Southwest influence
  • Totems and stacking elements
  • Handcrafted lace, home spun string art, large-gage knitting
  • Embroidered and embellished pieces
  • Allegiance to our flag
  • Recycled and repurposed items (such as old suitcases made into tables)
  • Damask
  • Rugs that look worn, like they could tell a story.

Sarape Blanket

Colors that speak to this trend include earth tones, dark/rich colors, and jeweled tones.

  • Neutrals will be more saturated and rich – watch for khaki, taupe, camel and sandstone to be strong, camel being the one to watch!
  • Browns will have more red and yellow undertones
  • Natural pigments will be on the rise
  • Reds are timeless, darker reds will be prevalent
  • Gold and sunny yellows will become warmer with more red influence
  • Teals and turquoise energize any design
  • For more sophisticated palates, navy, indigo and royal blue will come into play


Process applies to evolution – the journey…the “ah ha” moments along the way. It’s being open to cues from nature, and accepting mind-bending concepts. It’s proactive and fluid. A real move towards functionality and a self-sustaining lifestyle.

Some design elements to watch for include:

  • Blue prints/Maps as art
  • Graphics
  • Mazes
  • Shaping soundwaves into 3D art
  • Food growing/canning/Terrariums
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Digital art

pixel tile

The colors to watch for the process trend include:

  • Blueprint inspired hues
  • Modern neutrals
  • Layered greens – greens are on the rise with both digital and organic influences
  • Whitespace representing a blank canvas
  • Gray to charcoal to black serve to outline thoughts and design
  • A staccato of process colors in bold digital hues – pixilated colors
  • Red and orange as contrasts to grays


The protection trend speaks to our need to feel safe in an uncertain time. It’s a quest for structure and isolation mixed with longing. There is an underlying nonverbal play of seduction represented by inspiration from the female body. It’s about being protected outside so you can be vulnerable inside.

Some design elements include:

  • Iconic lips
  • Body armor
  • Padding and quilting
  • Blown glass
  • Bird cage (great for lighting elements)
  • Lacing and gauze used in a protective, shielding way – fragile yet strong
  • Stainless steel and reflective surfaces
  • Camouflage and metamorphism

vintage bird cage shade

Colors to watch:

  • Black is the new black
  • The palatte is similar to the “Escape” trend discussed for the 2011 trends, but bolder for 2012.
  • Neutrals will be cooler – grays and slate colors
  • Pink and purple undertones will be strong
  • Look for more khaki and green in cameo and animal print elements
  • Metallics and pearlized colors will continue strong
  • Gold will begin to make a comeback, but with more of a satin finish
  • Bronze and silver will remain strong
  • Look for deeper undertones and monochromatic blends of purple and mauve or heather and fig


Enlightenment speaks to our future. It’s being open to stretch your mind. Celebrating the excitement of rebirth. Shaping our vision of the future beyond what we’ve seen. It’s a real freedom of thought and expression, and a long-term attitude towards life. There is an interesting relationship between reality and discovery, and it is celebrated in this trend.

Design elements to watch:

  • The egg is representative of rebirth, orbital shapes will be big
  • Solar power – sort of one step back to the future
  • Futuristic design
  • Mirrored images
  • Creative use of acrylics
  • Faith and belief, or absence of, will be displayed through design – light vs. dark, shadow art, and silhouettes
  • Use of mysterious tones to set a mood

silver sky reflected

Colors to watch:

  • High contrast
  • Oxidized shine
  • Cloud whites and vaporous tones
  • Silvery and mirror effects
  • Gold and sunny yellow
  • Grape purples
  • Aquatic blues
  • Energize with cobalt blue and fuchsia


I find is so interesting to apply clues of society to how we create our surroundings. To summarize, these four trends of preservation result in the following trends for 2012:

  • Rich & Deep hues
  • Modern Neutrals
  • Juxtaposition
  • Freedom of uses – light and air with energy

So what do you think? Are these trends on target? What elements would you consider using in your home? And…what is YOUR favorite color and why!

I love reading comments and yes, I read every one!


  1. says

    Thank you very much for this informative and insightful blog. You helped me decide on my accent colors to go with the new furniture that I am getting on WEDS. And helped to validated my choices. I decided to go with a rich brown and layered green (organic). Furniture is camel suede with brown leather accents. You also reaffirmed the decision I was waivering on about a comforter and bedding set I saw which would carry over the theme to the bedroom in my new 1 bedroom condo. I also saw some blown glass lamps for the bedroom. Now, having read this, I will definitely get them! Thanks again and best regards.

  2. says

    Great information, predicting the future is not very easy especially in retail, however, I see parallels between what the tile industry is producting and the “Balance to Preservation”

  3. Lynn says

    I am interested in some of the new color trends….love gregi gray colors, but I was also considering pairing chocolate/latte with a turquoise and some elements of deep navy…..what are your thoughts on this combination.

    • says

      That reminds me of a cool weather ocean vacation – warm browns with navy/turquoise. You could brighten it up with white trim and some yellow accents!

  4. Suga says

    Wonderful Trends! As an old 60’s chick…Love your addition of *Enlightenment*.
    It’s the only thing…there’s just too little of! Make it happen this time around.

  5. Brittney says

    I have accent walls in both my bedroom and livingroom and I’m wondering if the trends are away from that idea. I like my taupe through the house to bring it together but the accent walls add variety. Any other ideas?

    • says

      Accent walls still work – especially in a long room. You also might want to consider that fifth wall – the ceiling – to add some color expression to a room!

  6. Gary says

    You site is interesting, but why not just show us the colors from your representative chips. This air of mystery seems to be the new trend, but I simply want a look at the actual colors.

    Thank you.

  7. Linda says

    I want to look at the color swatches or rooms done in these colors.
    A picture is worth a 1000 words!

  8. Amy P says

    I enjoy your blog site. Although it seems to be way over my head. The explanations are creative and intelligent I am having trouble with connecting all dots. I need a translator to show and explain how you would apply these to my home that I am trying to “update” from the 80’s. Keep it coming though…one day I plan to understand your language.

  9. Stacey Knouff Smith says

    Amy, I teach high school art and while this is my language, so I understand it, I don’t think you will have trouble decorating. The textile and furniture designers and all the home decor and paint companies will all take their cues from this and you will see products based on these themes showing up in retail stores across the country. Also, I’m already seeing hints of this show up in some of the newest home decorating magazines, so watch for those to help as well. Good luck!

  10. says

    Hey thanks for a terrific run down of the new colors for 2012. Really good stuff! I love it when fashion and home decor blend together. Nice blog too.


  11. says

    Thanks for your excellent insight on the color trends for 2012. This is helpful not only for interior design and redoing houses, but also for home sellers if they wish to freshen up their homes to get them to be more up to date. Thanks!

  12. says

    I EAT, BREATH AND PAINT WITH COLOR. In fact you could say my art reflects the energy of life through the use of color. When a customer asks me about what colors go best in their home I always ask first, which piece speaks to you the loudest? This is a the best indicator of how I think anyone should decorate their home. Start with colorful art that speaks to your heart and soul! You can never go wrong this way. And then once you have the art you can always play with color on your walls. Using the color wheel as a guide is a lot more simple than you think. If you need any help, email me at or feel free to call me (408) 370-7278

  13. says

    Nicely written. I just painted our guest room a deep bright midddle tone of yellow ocre. I was debating today whether to use a peppery rust or a deep plum for formal living to give it some kick.

  14. says

    Loved the article, thank you!

    Particularly love the Southwest Design, and am one of the few Sales Associates with Southwest (lighter hues) and Native American (darker hues) Sales Experience in Furniture and Accessories, in the South Florida area…..Now I am turning my focus on technology and how it can be used to create these interesting environments, coloring the World, one project at a time. Articles like these support my vision.

  15. danielle says

    i feel as though i just had a clairvoyant reading…i’m blown
    away by your words..they are perfect for life way beyond a room colour ~

  16. says

    Very interesting, I keep seeing more and more southwest influenced decorating. I have never been bold enough to try some of these colors on a wall…but it might be time to give it a try.

  17. Robin Oliver says

    I am buying all new furniture for my living room and am using a fun painting with rusty orange, turquoise, blue, black and yellow-gold colors in it. My floors are dark cherry, with off white walls and lots of natural light. I have one black leather chair and small ottoman and wanted to add some color with the couch and chair I am buying. I am leaning towards gray, with fun color accent pillows and a rug, but am not sure how to bring it all together and get color and patterns in there. I am open for any suggestions for color suggestions. I think my style is contemporary/eclectic if that helps.

  18. says

    This post definitely can influence someone’s choice regarding the colors. Although, As somene said above, ypu might need a translator to “connect all the dots”.

  19. says

    When it comes to the floors in your home, people think that the options are pretty limited. You can have carpeting, tile, or hardwood floors installed in your home. However, is that really all you can do or do you have more style options? The truth is there are many new trends that are changing the way people see their floors. This year, there were some really unique flooring styles that really caught on in a big way.

  20. says

    Your home is all about who you are as a person. Your floor is an important part of your home and there is nothing wrong with wanting your floors to look their best. Some of the biggest trends this year are to step out of the box and choose something unusual. Whether it is carpeting with unique patterns, pre-scratched hardwood, or hardwood flooring made from recycled materials, your flooring will look unique, stylish, and tell the world all about you at the same time.

  21. says

    Excellent blog right here! Additionally your site quite a bit up very fast!

    What host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your affiliate link for your host?
    I desire my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol


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