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Color Me Happy 

Design experts weigh in on their favorite color trends and pairings

click to enlarge Serene, aquatic Wythe Blue is Benjamin Moore's color pick of the year. Photo courtesy Benjamin Moore.
  • Serene, aquatic Wythe Blue is Benjamin Moore's color pick of the year. Photo courtesy Benjamin Moore.

Interior designers and decorators seem to have magical powers when it comes to choosing colors. The ability to see a room "done" and the confidence to act on that vision are rare talents. Here, we round up experts to forecast color trends and pairings for the coming year.

  Karla Katz, owner of Karla Katz Antiques (4017 Magazine St., 897-0061) sees interior color going back to a bright white in a flat finish, but she loves to use color in small spaces like powder rooms. "You can have fun, fun, fun using color in small spaces," she says. "I love a dark slate-blue gray with gold accents."

  Katz says the saturated browns and teals that have been on-trend for the last few years are now passe, and softer colors will prevail.

  Internationally known color expert Maria Killam spent four years with Benjamin Moore as a color specialist creating exterior and interior palettes for architects, developers, builders, property managers and homeowners. Many of her clients request Benjamin Moore's Gray Wisp, an excellent foil for almost any other color. Benjamin Moore's Palladian Blue, a muted blue with a turquoise green undertone, and muted greens and whites are also heavily requested colors.

  Killam says using the same color throughout the house is a common mistake. She would like to see a return to the days when each room had a unique color identity. To keep this look from feeling disjointed, a balance of clean and muted undertones is required, as well as weaving a thread of color from one room to the next. She advises picking paint color last, after the furnishings and fabrics, and buying a couch in your favorite color instead of opting for the neutral of the minute.

click to enlarge paired with black-and-ivory new orleans toile curtains from hazelnut, this hot pink couch brings a vibrant note of color to an otherwise subdued palette. photo by kerri mccaffety.
  • paired with black-and-ivory new orleans toile curtains from hazelnut, this hot pink couch brings a vibrant note of color to an otherwise subdued palette. photo by kerri mccaffety.

  Killam sees a return to white walls but cautions that white rooms only work when you have abundant natural light. Unlike gray, which needs to be paired with other colors to keep it from feeling drab, white with the right light can stand on its own. In her home, she has a sunflower yellow couch paired with raspberry, kelly green and crisp black and white accents, all against a backdrop of Benjamin Moore Natural Linen walls.

  Bryan Batt, actor, co-owner of interior decorating store Hazelnut (5515 Magazine St., 891-2424; www.hazelnutneworleans.com) and author of design book Big, Easy Style: Creating Rooms You Love to Live In, says, "Right now, I'm craving mossy greens and moody blues. I'm thinking about redoing a masculine wing chair I have in kelly green linen." Batt's go-to Benjamin Moore colors are Barely Teal, Smoke Embers, Sea Life, Davenport Tan, Chocolate Mousse and Cloud White.

  Joey Helm, owner of Helm Paint (citywide; www.helmpaint.com), predicts more customers will choose bold colors in 2012. His personal favorites include Benjamin Moore's Caliente, a deep red, and Dry Sage. The most popular colors sold in New Orleans are from a collection of historical colors used in the 18th and 19th centuries in colonial America. Of these, a mid-tone called Bleeker Beige is the most popular. It pairs well with White Dove and Ballet White.

  Helm notes that customers often choose safe colors with which they feel comfortable. He says as long as colors have a gray undertone, they will be user-friendly.

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