Pantone named their 2013 color of the year. It’s Emerald Green. Do you like?
If you do, the question is, does it work in just any space? When does green work? And, when does it just not work? (Shhh, but these tips work with any color.)
In a way, green is easy to add since it’s the color of plants and that is considered a neutral in most cases, but there are a few things to consider before adding green to your space.
To tackle this, we need to talk about fixed elements and clean versus dirty colors.
1. Fixed Elements.
Before adding any color, consider the fixed elements that are in the room. Fixed elements are things that are attached to the home and cannot easily be changed such as countertops, sinks, flooring, etc.
What color are the fixed elements in your space? What are the undertones?
The space pictured above has black countertops, white cabinets without a glaring undertone, stainless appliances and a white with a slight gray undertone subway tile backsplash. That is about as flexible as you can get. So, the saturated emerald green works in this space. In fact, most colors would work in this space.
Here is another kitchen that has lots of white fixed elements. All whites aren’t the same, so check the undertones, even in white, by comparing it to other whites. Some whites have yellow undertones, being super creamy. Other whites have blue undertones, and so on.
Green works well with all of the fixed white in this space though.
And, what is an important thing to consider when doing white? Light. White does not do well in a dimly lit room. It goes dull gray fast. For more information on white, see this post.
However, not all spaces are as flexible as the kitchens shown above. Some of us have funky colors that we inherited in our countertops or other fixed elements.
Let’s be honest, these countertops below are pretty bossy. Not all colors will work in this space.
And, the worst color in a countertop is beige with a pink undertone. It’s super bossy! (See below.) And, not only does pinky-beige not work well with a yellow beige, but just doesn’t work well with much.
If your space has pinky undertones in the countertop, please note that and work with it, not against it.
If you are going green, be sure to ask, are there any fixed elements with orange undertones in the room? Orange is opposite the color wheel from green. Anytime you put two colors together that are opposite the color wheel, they will emphasize each other. Do you want the orange emphasized? That is a question only you can answer. If the orange is in a tile you hate, maybe not. If the orange makes the cabinets feel dated, maybe not.
Having said that, please note that orange toned wood on the horizontal acts as a neutral. All wood as flooring does, so don’t worry about wood flooring too much. That’s not to say that some tones of wood won’t work better in a space than others, though.
2. Clean versus Dirty.
The next thing to consider is if the color you want to add is clean or dirty and how that corresponds to the surrounding colors.
(Note: this concept does not apply to neutrals like gray, beige, tan, and white, though their undertones and saturation should be taken into consideration.)
What does clean and dirty even mean? Clean is the color without it being mixed with much gray to muddy it up. Dirty colors are typically muted with gray. Muted and muddy are other words that are used interchangeably with dirty.
Below is an example of clean green (table) being combined with dirty green (chairs).
We all have our own opinions, but I’m not the biggest fan of the two together in the space above. I do like how she used two rugs and two tables in the oversized room.
Which of the color combinations below do you think looks best?
Typically clean colors look better with other clean colors. Muddy colors look best with other muddy colors. Below is an example of a dirty green with both dirty pink and clean pink.
You may have to look very closely at those to see the difference.
In general, muted colors will look more sophisticated. Clean colors will look more cheerful, but can border on youthful if you aren’t careful.
Clean colors should be off-set with a healthy amount of white. White helps them to make sense in a space.
Below are a few examples of green in spaces where the general color palette is very clean. Personally, I am drawn to clean colors most, but not too clean and over-saturated. I like a little bit of gray mixed in so that it’s still vibrant, but not too bright. However, many out there love their neutrals and soft palettes.
If you are wondering about an example of more muddy tones, see the image below. And, as you can see there, you can sprinkle in various tones of the color to blend it some.
Below are some various tones around the green spectrum that you could put together in a room.
And, just for fun, since I didn’t show a lot of dirty/ muted colors, here are some fabulous rooms featuring more muted colors. But, remember, these are terms of comparison, so it’s all relative.
1. Balance bright saturated colors with lots of white. Not only does it help them to make more sense but it keeps them from getting overwhelming.
2. Clean colors create a happier room, but also can be more youthful. Dirty or muddy colors tend to be more sophisticated. Both can be wonderful.
3. In general, keep clean colors with clean colors and dirty (or muddy or muted) with other dirty colors.
4. When choosing a color, make sure it works with the fixed elements your home – anything that will not be changed.
5. Compare different shades of one color to begin to see the undertones and to see if it’s clean or dirty.
These are just basic rules. Rules are made to be broken. But, they also must be known so that way you can purposely break them or know what may be wrong if something is bothering you.
I hope that is helpful! What do you think about emerald green? Would it work in your home?
What tips do you have? Are you drawn mostly to clean or dirty colors?