STIR article - The Green Scene header image
Originally published in STIR®



Versatile green — the new neutral — brings a fresh vibe to both commercial and residential interiors.

Green is taking its place as a super color in interior design. Elle Décor called the color a big trend to watch this year. House Beautiful said it’s the hue “that goes with everything.” Both Sherwin-Williams and Pantone named versions of it as their color of the year for 2013 (Aloe and Emerald, respectively). The color green is popping up everywhere — bedrooms, health-care facilities, offices, even restaurants — and designers are using the hue in original, and often unexpected, ways.

Perhaps green’s biggest appeal is its versatility. “Green lends itself to a lot of different applications,” says Nita Posada, senior associate at SRG Parnership, Inc. in Portland, Ore. “It’s not something you immediately see and say, ‘Oh, that’s a hospital color,’ or, ‘You only see that in a restaurant.’ Green is a color that can work in a lot of different ways.”

Interior designer Peggy Oberlin of Naples, Fla., calls green the new neutral. “Green contrasts wonderfully with most colors,” she says. “As a background, it adds depth and interest a beige could never do.”

Oberlin also notes green’s effect on mental and physiological processes, making the hue particularly apt for spaces like bedrooms that require a soothing presence. “We often think of blue as the go-to bedroom color because it is very calming and relaxing,” she says. “Green does a lot of the same things blue does — it will lower your respiration and heart rate — but it’s more psychologically therapeutic and healing.” Its connection to the outdoors also makes green appealing, Oberlin adds.

Green can be energizing, too. For the Shriners Hospital in Portland, Ore., Posada chose a bright yellow-green because it helps stimulate activity and movement for the facility’s young patients recovering from orthopedic surgery. “In areas of rehabilitation and patient care, we really want the patients to be active,” Posada notes, adding that the nurses’ stations and reception areas also prominently showcase green.

The use of green often varies by region. In Florida, for instance, Oberlin finds her clients gravitate toward green because it reflects the state’s lush landscaping. At Bellevue City Hall in Bellevue, Wash., Posada incorporated green into the terrazzo entryway floor, as well as office spaces, “to bring the natural environment indoors, especially because it’s very gray and cloudy a lot of the time.”

Another reason Posada selected green: It was the perfect way to refresh spaces that once served as inspiration for the Dilbert cartoon. “We wanted to liven up [office areas] so it wasn’t just a big cubicle farm,” she explains.

Although the use of green differs from project to project, Oberlin has noticed certain shades gaining favor, including grassy greens and blue-green shades such as teal or Sherwin-Williams Aloe (SW 6464). “The dreary gray-green has gone by the wayside because of the interest in pops of colors,” she says.

The fresh airiness of green influenced ceiling and wall treatments at Barbatella restaurant in Naples, Fla. Grizform Design Architects created and installed ornate green panels made of plaster, plastic and high-density foam. “We wanted to take the concept of ornament and decoration to the extreme,” says Griz Dwight, the firm’s principal and owner. “We felt that a little bit was going to be good, a little more would be great and full covering would be fantastic.”

The challenge when using green is to find the right color match for a project. “When you say ‘green,’ everyone thinks something different, so you have to come up with a lot of options,” Posada explains. “Some people react to it and say, ‘Olive green reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen,’ or ‘That makes me think of the ’80s.’ People really connect with green.”

To view the myriad selections in Sherwin-Williams “Green” color family, click here.