Here Are the Paint Trends Staying in the 2010s, According to the Experts

As the decade comes to a close, what do you think will be the defining color of the 2010s? Sherwin-Williams wanted to find out, so the company surveyed some of the top designers in the country about the colors they saw over and over again — and which ones they hope to never see again.

Jil McDonald from Jil Sonia Interiors sums up the past decade nicely: "[It] was all about dark wood flooring, silver lighting, scaled-back design and clean-lined furniture," she says in the survey, adding that we also saw a resurgence of white kitchens later in the decade — and we largely have influences like Chip and Joanna Gaines to thank for that.

Here's a lot at what else reigned supreme in the 2010s — and what will fade out:

Say Goodbye to Gray

One thing almost all of the designers surveyed would agree on: The 2010s were a very gray time. Designer Jean Stoffer says that gray was the color used in almost every shade and application. "Looking back, the major trend of this decade that I saw was the grand emergence of 'the modern farmhouse,'" Stoffer says in the survey, explaining that the trend relies on industrial materials like galvanized metal, reclaimed wood, and steel windows. She's right — we can hardly remember the last time we had brunch in a restaurant not fashioned after an old barn.

So if gray is out, what should we expect to see more of in 2020? Andrea Schumacher of Andrea Schumacher Designs thinks that the replacement neutral color in the coming years will be brown, with bright, cheery colors playing supporting roles. "I think green will always be a classic color . . . as green is neither warm nor cool on the color wheel, it can even act as a neutral in some instances," Schumacher says.

Get Ready for Jewel Tones

Rich greens — think emerald and other jewel tones — are also emerging, as designers and consumers steer away from spaces that rely solely on neutrals.

"We are starting to see the jewel tones make a big splash," Washington, D.C.-based designer Laura Fox says. "As for colors staying behind, I'd say some of the more playful lilacs and aquas will be replaced with a rich emerald and cordovan paired with a pale blush or muted coral."

Rethink Your Neutrals

We heard at least a couple 2020 Color of the Year choices described as a "new neutral." The new year will continue the shift towards more interesting, bold neutrals.

"While the combination of black and white has always been popular, the next decade is going to take that trend to the next level," Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams says. It's all about giving a modern twist to that combo with rich hues, like Sherwin-Williams' color of the year, Naval.


Laura Ratliff

Laura Ratliff

Laura is a New York City-based freelance writer who writes about travel, food, and design. Her work has appeared in Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and more. She's a sucker for a good curbside furniture find.