Have a Tour of Popular Colors Through the Decades

How does a palette get chosen, and why does that particular colour become popular and specify an age? Probably because colour choice does not happen in a vacuum. Politics, economics and technology all affect what colors will be popular in a special time. When there’s an economic boom, then the colors will likely be happy and celebratory. If, on the other hand, there’s an economic downturn, the chosen palette will more than likely be of more somber hues.

Let us take a look at how this has performed in the USA within the past 100 years.

1920s. While the industrial age began in the 19th (or, some might say, 18th) century, the most modern age did not actually come about until after the conclusion of the Great War. Starting in the 1920s, in reaction to the stylistic excesses of the 19th century, architecture and domestic design took on a clearly functional, machine-like cosmetic. As Le Corbusier, one of the excellent architects of the 20th century, said, our homes were “machines for living”

The perfect colour to portray that aesthetic has been white. Pure, platonic and honest, this colour came to signify the dawn of a new age in structure. From Corbu into Mies into the present, modernism became synonymous with the white box.

Sadro Design Studio Inc..

Even the easy kitchen required on the aesthetic of this lab. White walls, white cupboards and white appliances led to an aesthetic that talked to some clean, healthy and disease-free environment.


1930s. This decade would have to be distinguished as missing into the Great Depression. With huge unemployment and a nearly complete collapse of this building industry, it’s a wonder any homes were constructed, especially one that must be among the most beautiful.

So the colors of this decade were forest greens, soft browns and yellows in addition to Frank Lloyd Wright’s favored, Cherokee Red. See more of the Colours of Fallingwater.

Mal Corboy Design

There has been a countervailing colour fad in the 1930s also, though. Go figure, but during the depths of the Great Depression there was a lot of optimism about the long run. So compact buildings using polished chrome, stainless steel and other surfaces that are polished, and flowing curves have been also a style fad.

James McAdam Design

1940s. Throughout the first half of this decade, much of the planet was engaged in World War II. So it’s not surprising that the colors Americans associate with that time would be the red, white and blue of the U.S. flag. The stars and stripes were flying anywhere.

When the war ended and our servicemen and -women returned, Americans took to constructing a brand new 20th-century America. This America was a party of the future, with modern materials and designs. Chrome tubular chairs substituted overstuffed lounges, while curtains and blinds offered way to sheets of glass. The colors were sophisticated and wealthy; deep browns and ebony blacks against glistening metal controlled.

Mark English Architects, AIA

1950s. The age that adopted the charm and humor of the Cleavers and Lucy, created the interstate highway system and saw the fulfillment of the American dream in the suburban ranch home was an age of grand joy. And when there was one thing that symbolized this, it needed to be automobile tail fins on pastel-colored automobiles. In case you have to ask exactly what the tail fins were for, you are missing the point entirely.

Colors of the 1950s epitomized the optimism of the years. I can still picture my parents’ multigreen Pontiac Parisienne along with also my uncle’s red Corvette. From mint greens into turquoise to soft and creamy yellows, our automobiles came in more or less every single pastel conceivable, it seems.

Chimera Interior Design

1960s. From Haight-Ashbury into Piccadilly Circle, the Beatles into Peter Max, Woodstock into Selma, the decade of the 1960s was one of change, occasionally full of peace and love and at times disturbingly violent. It was a decade of taking sides and proclaiming, in the loudest possible terms, that you’re.

Colors from this decade are abundant, profound, psychedelic hues, such as acid orange and orange pink. The name of one of my all-time-favorite books, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby, sums up the strategy to colour for this decade.


1970s. From Afros to disco, from Jaws into Star Wars, that the 1970s has been a time to become big and bold. As the Vietnam War came to an inglorious close, the shadow of Watergate loomed over politics and we waited in long lines to fill our gas tanks, the decades also had a dark side.

So at precisely the same time we’d bold graphics and moved big, we had a colour palette of rusts, golds, greens and browns. But rather than simply taking their hue from the normal world, these colors were a bit off, more manmade, with only a hint of grey.

Who will forget all those avocado green and harvest gold appliances?

Susan Jablon Mosaics

1980s. Reaganomics, David Bowie, MTV, the computer and also the Space Shuttle are emblematic of the economic boom during this decade. With sumptuous movies like The Last Emperor and from Africa in addition to television shows such as Miami Vice, that the 1980s was a stunning time.

The colors of the ’80s have to be flamingo pink, Caribbean blue and lime green — bold, bright and brash colors that transported us into the tropics in a “go fast” boat.

(m) + charles beach INTERIORS

And for all those in a more conservative state of mind, who will forget Nancy Reagan red?

Vandeventer + Carlander Architects

1990s. Cell phones, personal computers and the Internet supposed that we were more “connected” to one another at the dawn of the information age. A middle of this new age was Seattle, home to many of the technology companies that would come to dominate the economics of this decade. And you can’t mention Seattle without mentioning grunge and a feeling of isolation and alienation only if we were becoming more connected.

The colors of the decade included grays and a muted palette of reds, blues and greens and blues.

2000s. What a couple of years! Surely it was 10 years of one intense after another. A snowball bubble burst, two more wars began, cheap and effortless credit allowed for irrational exuberance to take hold anywhere — and the celebration crashed.

While it appeared that each homeowner needed to have the stainless steel appliance package, and each dwelling had to be big enough to accommodate a small village, there was likewise a strong counter motion toward smaller homes and less glitz.

If one thing does stand out, it’s that all those surfaces needed to glow using a metallic glossiness. And stainless steel has been, in fact, the colour of this decade.

BY DESIGN Builders

2010s. While we’re still in the first years of this decade, we’re already seeing a few tendencies. A colour trend is toward greens and blues. While these colors might have been deeply and richly toned not long ago, now they are somewhat subdued. Coupled with earthy neutrals, now’s greens and blues are milder and less glitzy. That’s not to say they are boring. While the colors may be milder and quieter, the finishes tend be glistening and opalescent, including some glitz to the overall scheme.

For many, those muted earth colors, no matter what the finish, just don’t do it. Pantone has had some predictions color lovers appreciate, such as …

Larry Hanna

… Tangerine Tango in 2012. Recession and governmental gridlock be damned! A colour in this way will always put a smile on your face and jump-start your heart no matter what is happening elsewhere.

Carlyn And Company Interiors + Design

And Pantone chose Emerald to get 2013: green and glitz all in one package.

Tell us : What colors do you believe that the 2010s will be remembered for?

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Color Guide: How to Use Red Ocher

Red ocher is yellow ocher’s fraternal twin. Both are ancient colours initially derived from clays and minerals. Both were utilized extensively in ancient artwork (Cro-Magnon artists used it to paint caves), and both are still utilized in traditional artwork and layout from Africa to Australia.

Red ocher is the color of the clay the Namibian lady squirt in their hair and skin. It is the color of the cliffs of Sedona, Arizona, along with the dust in Kauai, Hawaii. It is red and orange and brown all wrapped into one — almost burnt orange, almost barn red, almost terra-cotta brown. It is burnt umber, sienna, copper. Almost.

Like its yellow sister, red ocher is rich, warm and mellow. There is not any such thing as a cool ocher. Nonetheless, it’s the dramatic of the two and not as able to blend in the background. It is earthy and organic looking, reminiscent of autumn and flame and grime (and I mean that in the nicest way).

It goes nicely with warm whites and yellows, and all sorts of fall colours. It also looks amazing with charcoal gray, which tames it somewhat (think slate and terra-cotta together). I also enjoy it with grass green and azure blue — also colours of the planet.

As you can see in the 17 illustrations below, it’s versatile too, playing nicely with all manner of styles — from Southwest to traditional to contemporary.

FORMA Design

Red Ocher about the Walls

Red ocher accent walls flank a dove-gray chimney and also add a lot of warmth to this understated, contemporary room.

Zuniga Interiors

An extremely bright, very orange red ocher causes this conventional room sizzle. Dare I say sexy? Who would have thought?

ARTISSIMO – Idit Deutsch

The real red ocher is that strip right above the mantel that looks almost brown, but these fall-friendly ochers are all in the exact same household and look good together.

McCroskey Interiors

Another formal room in red ocher. Maybe it’s because it’s so ancient and elemental, yet this color really does go with each style. I mean I can envision John Adams sitting.

Mark Newman Design

A brown and orange variant — like a sunset against the reddish faces in Zion National Park or Ayers Rock in Australia — in a modern setting. Like other warm colours, red ocher is supposed to stimulate the appetite, which makes it ideal for a dining room.

Abelow Sherman Architects LLC

The brick wall along with the timber flooring are red ocher.

House + House Architects

A red ocher. Warm and earthy but still contemporary.

Welch Forsman Associates

Red ocher glass tiles. This kitchen is crisp and clean and wholly contemporary. Nonetheless, it is not chilly, in large part because of the tile.

Burnham Design

Decorating With Red Ocher

Red ocher accents within this diverse room — take a look at the window therapy — add a little flame to the room. Notice the hot white and the blue.

Chloe Warner

Some call this midcentury modern favorite orange. But we know it’s really red ocher (an orangey one).

Valerie Wills Interiors

Gray, white and red ocher. I just love this color combination. It might look great in an outside also.

Rikki Snyder

A layered mess of ochers, oranges, reds and browns makes for a bohemian-chic little napping area.

The dashes of red ocher add brightness and warmth to this large contemporary room.

Jay Vanos Architects

Adobe. Now this is the real thing: reddish dirt.

House + House Architects

Red ocher adobe from purple. This has Mexican layout written all over it.

The building zone, ltd..

The mountains of Sedona glow red ocher, and the paneling on this home almost gets there also.

Tom Hurt Architecture

Red ocher accents on the outside of this modern house bring its bones out and also look good with green.


Roycroft Copper Red 2829 Paint

A dark red version.

Benjamin Moore Brick Red 2084-10 Ben Paint – $35.95

Lighter and having a little more brown.

Benjamin Moore

Tea Paint

A medium brown version, with lots of pink.


Spicy Hue SW6342 Paint

Quite orange — this really is the red-rocks-at-sunset color.


Rookwood Terra Cotta SW2803 Paint

A light, brown version.

Benjamin Moore

Egyptian Clay CSP-1140 Paint

A Great Deal of pink. This is almost like a brown salmon.


Red Cent Paint

An even lighter variant of red ocher, still with lots of pink.


Decorous Amber SW0007 Paint

Nearly terra-cotta. But still ocher.

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Loving Color: Enjoy Raspberry's Sweet Taste

If the color raspberry were a individual, I would describe her as confident, bold, fashionable and sweet. Raspberry brings a bold vibe to any area. When added in small doses, the space becomes a bit more sassy. And when used as the main color, raspberry becomes the life of the party (area )!

Casart Coverings

Raspberry is vibrant and likes to take centre stage. If you use cherry onto the walls, keep the rest of d├ęcor simple and light — utilize complementary whites and light colors of trendy colours. The bit of celadon green here is reminiscent of yummy watermelon.

Valspar’s Berrylicious is a jovial cherry color.

Jay Rambo Co..

Raspberry is a wonderfully rich color for a French country-style room. It keeps the space young and vibrant. Toile, frequently used in French state design, depicts a delicate landscape, but seems fresh if used in a popular hue like cherry.

Rubie Green

Rubie Green – Rubie square pillow cover – $75

Add a little bit of cherry in a modern way through a chevron-pattern pillow.

Shirley Meisels

In the market for a whimsical bedroom wallpaper? Have a look at patterns which incorporate raspberry and you are certain to have a cheery success.

Traditional Baskets – $9.99

Like the raspberry baskets in the previous picture? Try these.

Spruce Eco-Studio

Mod-Butterfly Jubilee Raspberry – $75

How entertaining this raspberry butterfly wallpaper will be as a focal wall behind a bed, with creamy white paint on the other walls. Repeat the buttery yellow tones bedding because this is another brilliant color that works well with raspberry.

Layout Theory Interiors of California, Inc

Raspberry all grew up. Deeper shades of raspberry work well with traditional spaces, developing a sophisticated, relaxing area. Begin with a neutral palette, warm forests, oil bronze tones, and then add this deep burst of color through cotton materials.

Dona Rosene Interiors

This is an interesting, strong and gleeful space. Raspberry is a lively color. Adding scrumptious cherry to partitions of a conventional area will kick up the appearance of classic furniture. Additionally, it goes beautifully with gold yellow. They are like two old friends coming together to make a warm and inviting area.

Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore Raspberry Truffle

Try out this Benjamin Moore paint color for a darker color of raspberry.

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Easy and fun Ways to add White Spaces and Color

Color arouses the eye and makes any space intriguing and personal, but it does not mean you need to paint the walls. There are benefits to having white partitions (if you lease, possibly your landlord has told you this already). White retains a room feeling bright and clean, and is a great background color to make other colors visually stunning. Here are strategies to make a white room sing with colour.

More: Are You Gutsy Enough to Paint Your Floor White?

Emily Ruddo

Play different spaces within an open floor plan. Keep your house light and white, and let colour shine throughout on cloths, wall art and furnishings/decor to divide up your spacious rooms.

Rethink Design Studio

Warm up a kids’ room. Add a spool of a perky colour like yellow, together with a large pattern, to a white space and it will be really cheerful for the small ones. Add DIY bits such as trim around lamp shades.


Bring in a large piece of artwork. To pull the eye into a space and produce a vibrant impact, pick up one enormous piece of artwork and place it onto a focal wall over a sofa, fireplace, bed, dining table or dresser.

Emily A. Clark

Produce a warm master bedroom. Bring in heat through furniture. Against a blue-tinted white wall (a relaxing color of white), dark timber furniture seems divine. Fluffy white bedding looks like a tempting white blur when placed on a chocolate finished bed frame, and the deep blue window treatments aren’t just great for keeping the room dark at night, but the blue is calming to the eye.

Dreamy Whites

Add a little softness. This is excellent for a guest area palette. Keep the room soft and cozy by painting walls a grey white and adding layers of white bedding start with a bed skirt, sheets and comforter or coverlet, put in a blanket or throw at the end of the bed which has lighter quieter tinted colors. Then top the bed(s) with petal pillows.

Jamie Laubhan-Oliver

Show off metal finishes. A crisp white backdrop lets reflective finishes shine. This could be a fantastic opportunity to put in a gallery of gold or silver frames.

Vintage Scout Interiors, Debbie Basnett

Add a large piece of vibrant furniture. Wrap the item of furniture in your room in colour. Forget about a sofa; bring in a joyful vibrant upholstered sofa. Or change your present sofa by reupholstering or including a slipcover.

Add a colored piece of furniture. Red, blue, green or some other color painted onto a desk, buffet, accent table or even a bed frame may turn a white room to an inspired, fun space. I adore the idea of using a piece of painted furniture in an entryway. It will be a “wow” moment for anybody entering your property.

More: How to Select the Ideal White Paint
Are You Gutsy Enough to Paint Your Floor White?
Sexy Ideas for Cool White Spaces

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