Emily Henderson

Grow Up and Get Into The 90's

Four shocking colors from the 90’s that you’ll want in your home right now

Color Trends 2016_Dusty Blue

Hold on to your Dr. Martens, put Oasis on repeat, and grab your flip phone folks. The 90’s have taken hold of fashion (socks with birkenstocks, anyone?), and it’s leaking pretty quickly into the home and some of it is looking really good. Fashion leads color trends, we all know that. But, sometimes they hit and sometimes they don’t (Marsala-gate, 2015, which we tried ourselves here.. cough cough tablecloth). Usually it takes at least a season if not a year for it to catch up in the home realm and sometimes they never do (Radiant Orchid which was a pretty annoying looking purple). This year I’m going to be writing a lot more on these trends and how to actually use them in the home in a more timeless way.

But first I wanted to talk about the four winter colors that I’m absolutely loving right now. These four colors are in, they are your friend, get used to them.

Color Trends 2016_Greens_Shades of Green

1. Muted greens: Fine, I know that is more broad than a simple color, but most darker shades of green are super in: olive, hunter, pine, jade and then sage and moss green are also getting equal attention. I can’t get enough of all of these pretty shades. Dare I say that green is the new blue? Shame on you, Emily (cut to the president of ‘The coalition of blue for all Americans’ calling my agent and firing me on the spot as their spokesperson). These greens are more muted, less saturated. Emerald, aqua or anything too primary are taking a backseat. This season its more neutral and soft, like Meryl Streep.

Color Trends 2016_Dusty Rose_1

2. Rose: While blush is still wildly in fashion, its taking a more sophisticated, muted turn this year in the home. It’s still pink but with a lot of brown in it, making it softer, less saturated, and more calm. I’m very excited about using this color this year all over that baby room (more to come soon).

Color Trends 2016_Dusty Blue_2



3. Dusty blues: Don’t call it ‘cornflower’ for fear of scaring our moms, even though it can border on that, too. Either way, it’s a grown-up pastel that has more gray in it than it does on the runway, and its looking mighty happy and sophisticated in the home these days.


4. Beige: Wait, WHAT? We say ‘taupe’ and ‘ivory’ and even ‘greige’ like it’s no big deal, as if we are somehow above beige now, but it’s all a shade of beige, isn’t it? This year all those creamy neutrals are being mixed together and leaving us in a neutral, yet modern heaven with beige being a strong player. Stark white was the trend for years, but no longer. While I need to certainly get more into this, a quick tip is to mix it with more modern colors. If you go the beige, brown, cream look you are dangerously close to 90’s suburbia. Mix with black, white, ink navy, blush pinks and modern finishes (brass or copper) to make sure that it stays firmly in 2016.

Color Trends 2016_Beige

***image sources: feature, 1. green,  2. rose, 3. dusty blue, 4. beige

Are you into the 90’s color trend? Marsala didn’t stick but I seriously think these will, do you agree?

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    1. I disagree x1000! Those muted greens and dusty blues make me want to grab a book and hot chocolate and snuggle in for the winter. To each his own. I say yum! :)

  1. OK, so I’m looking for new bedding and I found the most beautiful beige pillow covers yesterday that threw me into an existential crisis about WHY DO I LIKE BEIGE AM I 90 YEARS OLD?? Thank you for dragging me out of it with this post. I’m feeling back to my millennial self.

  2. So today beige is all good; on Wednesday you were naysaying on the Swiss Coffee color in the shelter… isn’t that beige? What am I misunderstanding here?

    1. Hey Laurabeth – there are a million different tones of beige (warm, cool etc) and light plays a big role in how any color is perceived. Also, architectural details and other elements in a room can dramatically affect beige, especially when it coming to flooring like hardwood or carpet. The Swiss Coffee color clearly was not working in the shelter space, and without having seen it in person, I trust Emily’s designer judgement!

      1. Obviously it depends on the beige and not all beiges are created equal (like everything in design – its very nuanced). Swiss coffee from the other day had so much green in it that it looked puke-y. So I think its safe to say that ‘puke-y’ beiges are not back :) I’ll do a post with my favorite beige paint colors, soon.

  3. Aww I have a swim suit in radiant orchid I love! Maybe it’s only horrible for interiors?

    Excited about the blush tones and dusty blues. My friend painted an accent wall in her living a mid-tone slate last year and I have so been wanting to copy her!

    1. YES – just tricky in interiors. it was good in fashion, but it never really translated in the home. I think it could be in a more temporary space (powder room, restaurant, etc) but purple never really became the trend

      1. Whew. I am glad you gave the bathroom nod. I painted the vanity cabinet in my daughter’s bathroom Radiant Orchid and we love it. :)

  4. The dusty blues are amazing!! I really love the gray paints that you recommend (aloof and gray owl) but I might be ready to go to the next level with these. Do you think these would mix well in a home that has mostly gray running throughout…??

  5. The house I lived in when I was in middle school was painted the muted green color in the second photo and it was gorgeous! It was a very fancy house built in the 1960s and it just WORKED. I never stopped loving the color, even if I haven’t used it myself! I’m digging the rose too. I AM definitely getting tired of all grey everything in regards to neutrals, but I’m not quite ready to jump back on the beige bandwagon (although it’s not like there are a lot of other neutrals to choose from).

  6. Hey Emily,

    I just came across a Dough Boy on Craigslist that is lovely, but I am having a hard time thinking about what purpose it could serve in my currently empty studio. Have you ever styled/refinished one of these beauties? Maybe it could be a coffee table or some sort of sideboard? Side table? Thanks lady!

    1. May I ask what a ‘dough boy’ is and/or means? All I could picture are the army hats from WW I. Thanks. PS I googled it and still clueless……..

    2. I think it’s a piece of furniture with 4 legs and a hinged top. In the olden days one would proof dough in it I think though just general storage like sewing supplies is also a function. I’ve seen them all different sizes from sideboard height to side table and coffee table heights. So I guess styling it depends on the piece.

  7. I love rocking my Marsala booties and leather skirt. But I never got it into my home design. I think I must be the only person on the planet that doesn’t like blue in my home. I have always gone with greens. When I first heard about the blue and dusty rose combo I had flashbacks to my childhood when my mom tole painted with her friends and had dried flower arrangements everywhere in those colors. Not a look I want to go back to. The images you featured show those colors in a new sophisticated way. Thank you for showing us how to do it right.

  8. Ooooh, I’m on trend for once in my life!?
    I recently purchased a dusty blue area rug (bit.ly/1kSvFBE) to replace the Romper Room nightmare that previously occupied our living room. I LOVE the new rug but I’m having a tough time pulling the rest of the room together. The above interiors are beautiful but also very restrained. Is there a way to incorporate these muted colors and create an overall room feel that is airy, happy, and fun?

    1. OOh, good question. I will think about it and try and incorporate it into the blue post … It does feel difficult to be both muted and sophisticated and bright and fun. Good challenge ..

    1. I totally thought the same. How can ‘builder beige’ all of the sudden be the new sophisticated color when it is still painted all over every newly built home’s surface, both inside and outside, along with beige carpet, beige rock work, and tile? Blech… I do love the other colors though, especially the rose and dusty blues.

      1. This sounds like my 2 year old townhouse that my husband does not want me to change anything on since it’s still so new!

  9. I was just about to go get some navy paint samples for the walls in our bedroom, but now that I see the dusty blues… any ideas on what paint color these are?

  10. Oh no; I’m having an existential crisis over here. We are closing on our new house in two weeks and I had my bright white picked out to paint over the off white and beige walls in order to start us off with a blank canvas. Now I’m wondering if I need to cancel the painters. Eeek, I would love to see more examples Emily!

    1. What style is your house? First off you will never regret white. Secondly there are a lot of creamier whites (white dove) that are white, but warmer. I think if you have a new house or a mid-century style house then a bright white is always a safe choice, but if you have an older-style house you can go warmer. I think if you are on the fence, go with a slightly warmer white that doesn’t feel beige, it just feels warmer – like white dove or decorator white. They still look white, i promise. Don’t worry, its not that white is ‘out’, its that many warmer neutrals like beige are ‘in’.

      1. The original part of the house is a 20s bungalow, but an addition to the back was added that looks like more of a ranch. So, stylistically, it’s a bit all over the place. But my plan is to bring a bit more cohesion throughout, probably leaning more toward the older style.

        I actually already have samples of white dove and designer white as per your resource guide in “Styled” – so I’ll consider one of those. Yes, thank you so much for the response! Crisis averted.

  11. Over Christmas, my husband and I painted our fireplace bump out (the dry wall surrounding the mantle) a hunter green. We loved it so much that we painted our half bath the same color. Lots of compliments so far! I’m in for this 90s trend.

  12. French vocabulary police here. Just to clarify: “rose” = pink. Not pastel pink, not muted pink, just plain pink, in all its glorious range, same as in English. So, when you’re saying that pink is in trend right now, it’s not a specific shade.

    The (gorgeous) shade of pink you’re talking about is called “vieux rose” (old rose). It’s fantastic and I love it beyond reason. In velvet, on a Louis XVI settee, and I’m in decor heaven (also, my bank account would be empty, which is why I don’t have any settee at home).

    I really love the green shades, and I’d be really interested in making builder’s beige work. While I don’t really like it in home decor, some of us are stuck with it in our rentals and can’t repaint (or won’t, since we aren’t staying long). What can we do to make it look good and current ?

    1. Yeah, but in English, I believe “Rose” does, in fact, refer to a pretty specific shade of pink. I guess sometimes we might call it “Dusty Rose”? But I think most people see them as being interchangeable.

      1. I love discovering how languages borrow words from other languages and slightly change them ! English is not my native tongue, and I certainly didn’t mean to correct anyone. It was a “just so you know” comment, nothing more.

        “Dusty rose”… I don’t like that, I don’t want to dust anymore than I have with kids and cats… ^^ but it’s such a wonderful color !

  13. No beige, never beige. Beige is the stripper with dead eyes.

    Do you honestly believe a beige room can exist that isn’t lifeless, dirty, and boring? Blech.

    1. No way – every color relies on context to some degree. Do you think the beige room example above is lifeless, dirty, or boring? Careful not to knock any one isolated design element too hard… you may have to eat your words in a few years.

  14. I followed the link at the bottom (TY) and see the Farrow&Ball paint but what color is the blue bedroom? It just says “light blue”.

  15. My whole house is beige and I was seriously considering painting all the walls white this year. Thanks for this post Emily !

  16. The last photo IS very 1994 Design School. Actually, I was at DAAP at that time–check out a photo of the Aronoff Center. Yep. I still feel like, “Been there. Done that.”

  17. I really like the muted greens and blues. I’m convinced that, in fashion and interiors, all you have to do to predict the Next Big Thing is conjure up in your mind the grossest, most passé fads you possibly can (brown, beige, front pleats), and then wait a year or two. Et voila! There it is again. I have major respect for the creative impetus of designers involved in this process, but sometimes it’s enough to make you cynical.

  18. You can pry my aqua from my cold, dead hands. I’ve had aqua in the dining room for more than 10 years and it still makes me smile every time I see it.

    I’m not sure some of these are newly back; some never seem to have gone at all. (There is SO MUCH BEIGE on various HGTV shows.) I say do what you like and don’t worry too much about the trends.

  19. Iäm having a hard time with the pine green, just makes me think of Microsoft in the 90’s. But I’m usually a bit behind trends, I say yuck first and then a year later, warm up to it…

    The forest green = yes please!

    The rose color makes me think of Thornbirds. “Ashes of roses” was her fave color in it, no? It’s a tricky color, it can go “80’s pink bathroom” real quick.

    And you know what’s AWESOME?
    Forest green WITH a dysty rose pink!

    (Like in Em’s nursery – you’re so ahead of the curve…)

  20. Is this one of the first posts written by someone else per your message at the beginning of the year? I like the content, but it doesn’t sound like your voice at all. Just wondering!

  21. This kind of reminds me of fashion. If you wore it the first time it was “in” you really don’t want to wear it when it comes around again.
    For me, it’s the equivalent of the ’70’s…
    But if you’re young and hip, knock yourself out!

    1. PattyBlaettler I love your comment. This is exactly how I feel.
      I like the blues and greens you have pictures and certain beiges can look nice but I’m having a hard time with the pinks. It reminds way too much of my childhood home, with all the hunter green and mauve home interior pictures and flowers draped all over the walls. Not to mention our loveseat and recliners. I don’t want a repeat of that. Ever! :-)

      1. Yes, exactly. I was in West Elm the other day and fell hard for their metal arm chairs in dusty rose picturing it with my mostly grey/taupe interior paired with today’s metals and iridescent fabrics. It wasn’t until I realized I’d just recreated my first apartment circa 1984 (minus the metal accents) that I thought better of it. And while this “new” palette is much more muted and sophisticated it’s still a little frightening to those of us who were around for the last go round.

  22. I love the muted tones! Rose pink and dusty blue are two of my favorite colors, so I am over the moon to see they are “in” this year. The green is a nice addition, too.

    Beige, however, only works in really specific circumstances. And I don’t really consider beige the same as cream or ivory. Those colors have a more yellow undertone, instead of brown or green. I look forward to seeing a longer post on it!

  23. How right you are — my living room is the color of the first photo on your post, and the home office I painted just this week is identical to the photo underneath the Rose write-up. They’re swanky and bold and completely not fussy when surrounded with organic and eclectic elements. Loving them!

    Beige? That’s harder to swallow for me, at least on the walls. We live in the land of EVERY SINGLE HOME just now being convinced to come off those contractor beige walls. I can’t imagine actually electing the color. Ha!

  24. I’m a firm believer that any color can work in nearly any situation, if done right. But there will always be design trends and they help us find our favorites. As always, will be fun to watch!

  25. No to beige!!!!! I hate the fact that almost every house built from the late 1990’s on has beige or taupe walls. Or when gorgeous older houses get flipped and they end up with beige walls and brown granite countertops!! Ugh!!! And they call them “designer colors.” Double Ugh!!

  26. It has taken me years to believe that I can use my favorite colors, blue and green, here in Seattle where it is often grey by going saturated. I love some of these looks but think that several of them would just look like prison here in Seattle most of the time. I am also surprised at how much I like some of these new pinks [the ones that don’t look like silly putty] but if you tell anyone I will have to kill you ;-)

  27. dusty blue is my favorite color, recovered a chair in velvet dusty blue over the summer, happy to see it represented here. and that rose tone is great too, paired together they become a moodier rose quartz and serenity

    ps. ikea has a collection of dusty blue mugs right now! just got a few yesterday

  28. Hey, I’m on trend for once! We’re about to paint our new kitchen a muted green very close to Sage (and the runner up was a dusty blue).

  29. Oh I really like the colors in the first 2 pics. I would love that in my bedroom. Can’t wait to see what colors you suggest.

  30. I am going to say it…I love white walls and I am not ashamed of it!!!!

    All of these are beautiful and fine in the right context, but I change things around A LOT and I love the flexibility my Ultra Pure White walls give me. I am also a fan of black walls, for the same reason.

    Again, these are all beautiful. But my walls at home will always be white, black or concrete or wood clad or something else totally NOT “right now” and totally “right, always.”

  31. Love this article!

    I love dusty blue, always have. I love all greens, even muted ones.

    Thank goodness someone actually said what (almost) everyone thought about Radiant Orchid.

    I would disagree that ivory is a shade of beige.

    I love, love, love gray – my house has gray walls, and my office building just got an interior facelift and they chose gray for practically every surface. I hope gray never goes out of style like beige did.

  32. I find color so very personal and I can honestly say that I do not regret painting miles of woodwork and many walls in my home Extra White (SW). The clean and bright look makes me sooo incredibly happy. It calms my brain and allows me to use color in other ways that aren’t so permanent. I can’t imagine going back to off-white ever again. It’s all about how it makes you feel. No one is right, no one is wrong. That’s the beauty of color.

  33. Yes, I think these colors have staying power. The beige, softer whites, brown based pinks may be scary for some but are very flattering to almost all skin tones. If you have ever gone to a Bobbi Brown makeup counter to buy lipstick you will see many shades of pink, red, orange, beige with brown undertones. These colors look very natural and flattering. So why not compliment ourselves by adding some of these colors to our surroundings. Whether it’s wall color that reflects a warmer flattering light or used as accents in the room.
    The fun in it is to see what one can do incorporating their own style with what is now trending. I’ve always thought that most anything can come back and be re-interpreted in a beautiful, current, stylish way.
    The colour is given its relevance by the lines, texture, character of the piece(s) or the room. It’s always an evolution taking things from the past and making them current. This is where the fun is. That is one of the reasons why we love Emily!

  34. The Rose and Muted Green’s are my favorite! I just bought a bunch of acryla gouache paints in similar shades for a new series of illustrations I’m working on. I love this color trend when it’s mixed with clean modern design to balance out the “90’s suberbia” vibe.

  35. Hi Emily!
    Love this post on 90s color! Don’t know if you’re still looking for requests for blog posts but since I am decorating my living room this new year I’d love posts on the best chairs or the best sofas. I’m scouring and just can’t seem to find many options for stylish chairs (petit and in my price range). Round ups or your favs are super fun for me cause then I can just copy and paste them in my living room and everyone who comes over will be like “nice chairs, where’d you get them?” And I can be like “Emily Henderson told me about these and isn’t she amazing!” ;)

  36. I am realy interested in whether or not you were able to identify a style name for this chair. It is AWESOME and I think you found yourself a real treasure,

    If you can give me any information, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Thank you,
    Ellen Hopkins

  37. Oh I am in love with that first room! And that paint color is to die for. I’m thinking about a bedroom re-do right now and was considering going all white with navy.

    But I so need to know what that paint color is! Looks a bit like RH Atmosphere Blue. Could it be? I actually love it with that beige velvet headboard too…

  38. Love these colours but I didn’t mind marsala either! I have used similar colours variously in artwork, cushions and on walls.

  39. I really wanted to paint every wall in my 90s house either white dove, or ballet white, or whatever creamy ivory-ish white exists that has no orange or pink or brown in it. We have a Key West style 2-story house on the east coast of Florida and our front living room is 2 stories and the walls are sage/cactus green with about 20 drywall screws and nail holes all over. It’s ugly. But, the foyer that it connects to is off-white with maybe a teeny tiny bit of yellow but it is fine for like the next 3 years…I can’t fathom picking a blue or green to replace the 90s sage…can I please use a creamy off-white Non beige??? I assume it would flow better from the foyer if I picked a similar off-white. I did paint our kitchen and family room 50% diluted Sea Salt and it’s dreamy!

    Thanks for all of your posts!

  40. Yes! Halleluja! I’ve been feeling this for awhile now and being drawn to beige, cream, slate blue, greyed out pinks and I’ve even been feeling sage of the fringes of my consciousness! Thanks for the affirmation :)

  41. I just had a white bookcase installed in my upstairs nook and since it doesn’t go all the way up to the ceiling I’m wondering how to decorate the top. I don’t like a clutter look so I would want something simple but eye catching in order to draw the eye up. Any suggestions???