Man does it feel good to be right sometimes. We do a lot of trend forecasting as design editors (which sometimes really just feels like straight-up guessing based on seeing something on Instagram/Pinterest or in a magazine, oh…twice?), so naturally, just on statistics alone, some of the trend spaghetti we throw at the wall doesn’t always stick. And on the other side of that logic, some DOES. This time, the sticky noodle is what we’re calling “schoolhouse green.” In January, when we typically stop and take inventory of what we think will be a thing in the upcoming year, we did a deep dive color trends post, and this shade of green was on our radar back then…though with a bit of trepidation.
You see, a few years back, before this version of Charlie’s room, the chalkboard-green hue graced a portion of the walls in his bedroom in Emily’s current LA home:
If you remember the post (and if you don’t, head here for the recap), this ended up being a compromise between Emily and Brian (Charlie made the original request for green), but the finished product never felt right to Em. She used words like “dated” and “school-like” to describe how it made her feel. While it didn’t work in this room with her design vision, I’m here to tell you that it CAN work for you, but I’ve taken notice of spaces where it feels fresh, updated, edgy and delightfully unexpected.
But first, what exactly is “schoolhouse green?” It’s, well, kind of what it sounds like. A saturated mid-tone green that is reminiscent of chalkboards and school furniture from yesteryear (I’m assuming teachers just DM students now with equations to solve or word problems to pick apart, no?). It’s deeper and richer than mint, more subdued and “milkier” than emerald and not as punchy or as yellow as Kelly green or chartreuse. Got that? Sometimes it can have slightly blue undertones, other times, more yellow as you’ll see, but in general, if it looks like you could go to town on it, chalk in hand, you’re in the neighborhood.
I’m partial to schoolhouse green in architectural details (moldings, kitchens, bookcases), but that’s the most “permanent” application of the set I’m going to walk you through, so let’s start with something a little more transient:
The “easiest” way to bring in this comfortable yet peppy color is through furniture. My favorite way to do that is in a mostly neutral space where the green is the star but still somehow feels…neutral? That’s a sentence that might leave you scratching your head, but let me explain. There’s something really snug and relaxed about it in a setting like this that makes it feel like it just belongs. Schoolhouse green is like that kid at school that can sit with either the cool, popular kids but also fit right into the marching band table or the artsy folk. It’s a superlative color chameleon, people!
Here, it takes on a more Postmodern (’80s?) vibe in a restaurant by Genesin Studio. The green is just the POP the pastel blue and pink space needed to round it out. Also, very much an aside, but…raise your hand if the phrase “pop of color” makes you die a little inside every time you hear it? I’d like to campaign hard for a new way to describe an addition of a specific color in a room. I’ll be waiting for you in the comments to discuss. Carrying on…
Frankly, I’d be afraid to pair MOST shades of green with red for fear of obvious Christmas-related reasons, but the mix of chairs, the intensely modern marbled stone and the general eclectic-yet-cool vibe here is able to sidestep my preconceived notions of the color pairing.
This is actually in the same house as the brass kitchen with the green chairs from above, so it makes sense designer Meg Sharpe would carry the color throughout. The addition of soft baby pink and the vintage Art Deco-esque sconces and mirror (or would these be more Regency?) take it from feeling a little Memphis-y to more streamlined maximalist.
Alright, okay maybe you weren’t on board with the schoolhouse green furniture (if you were, welcome to my inner circle of close friends, if not, keep reading). But we’ve now entered into a new category that might be a little easier to digest: paint.
The walls of this bathroom in the home of Dabito (the color aficionado behind Old Brand New) might be a little too blue-toned to be classified as schoolhouse green, but the cement tile floors are spot on. I like that Dabito brought in both warm, earthy elements through the floating vanity (likely to avoid things from feeling too contemporary) but freshened it up with the marbled wall slab and brass fixtures.
I find this room, by Atelier Daaa to be a really good example of mixing old-world and new world, with the schoolhouse green being squarely in the middle of both those design adjectives. The ceiling moldings and plaster, as well as the herringbone floors, are all very classic while the furnishings and fixtures are very contemporary. This specific shade of green (again: chameleon) works in both style realms, so it marries the eras effortlessly.
In a home by Helen Cathcart, a soft yet deep green via the recycled glass vessels and the window framing are the only flash of color in this Italian flat. Paired with the rich wood tones and the plaster-y walls, it just feels effortless. Fun fact: this image actually inspired our very own Julie, back when we published it in January. She plans on incorporating a similar green (Breakfast Room Green by Farrow & Ball) in a very similar treatment in her bedroom MOTO that’s in process. Stay tuned for that in a few weeks.
Most of the schoolhouse green I’ve shown you so far has been fairly muted, but it can also be ALIVE (without being electric) like above. It’s particularly cool with black accents and just a touch of oak or pine to ground it.
And finally, my favorite category/use of schoolhouse green: architectural details. I nearly keeled over when I saw this staircase on Yellowtrace (designed by Kennedy Nolan). The entire home is a study on how to do black-white-and-natural, with this metal showstopper as essentially the ONLY color element in the home. You want to make a very cool but somewhat restraint statement? This is how it’s done.
Here we are again with another mostly-neutral-with-a-green-punch room, this time in a kitchen. The satin subway(ish) tile with the gray grout lines keeps this otherwise very contemporary kitchen from feeling like a straight-up showroom. It’s a very specific look, but one that still feels balanced and fun.
On the other side of that last modern kitchen is this more classic vibe by Mike Tuck Studio that still feels fresh via the leather cabinet pulls, contemporary lighting and wide-plank blonde wood flooring and banquette furniture.
Rodman Primack is one of those designers whose work I like to turn to when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired. He has an almost other-worldly knack for putting things together that no person in their right mind would, but…it always works. Toucan desk object and a coffee table overlapping a desk (?!?)…WHY THE HECK NOT. I think that’s why the schoolhouse green built-ins work so well in here. This whole room has a IDGAF attitude of an impossibly cool person, so the jolt of color in the bookcases somehow grounds everything and lifts it all at the same time.
SO…how you feelin’? Are you convinced? Were there other colors from our original paint trends post (again, here) that you felt were a home run and would like some more inspiration for? Let’s hear it.