The color gods have sent us a quick fix for the winter blahs: Honeysuckle.
The vibrant pink has been named 2011’s Color of the Year by Pantone, the color-services company whose advice influences what we’re sold to wear, decorate with and even eat off.
Honeysuckle was chosen for its adrenaline-pumping quality, explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. It’s a happy color, she says, a hue that can energize us and lift our spirits in times of economic adversity.
Even the color’s name is evocative. People associate the name Honeysuckle with the sweet scent and taste of the plant it’s named for, and that association conjures pleasant feelings.
It may also bring Barbie doll accessories to mind, but Eiseman begs to differ.
“It’s definitely not Barbie,” she says with a laugh. “It’s definitely more sophisticated.”
Honeysuckle is a reddish pink with a blue undertone. It’s stimulating, yet not as aggressive or passionate as red, Eiseman says.
It’s also somewhat complex, giving it more grown-up appeal than simpler pinks.
When it comes to home decorating, designers say it’s best used with restraint.
Honeysuckle is “a vibrant, in-your-face kind of color,” says Pamela Bayer, an interior designer in Hudson, Ohio. She believes it’s best used as an accent, paired with more subdued colors to tone it down.
Fellow interior designer Joel Wolfgang agrees.
“I can’t imagine it on a wall. I can’t imagine it as an area rug,” says Wolfgang, a designer based in Palm Springs, Calif. “It needs to be used cautiously.”
That’s not to say you should shy away from it, both designers say. Particularly if it’s used in accents and accessories such as pillows, lampshades and towels, it’s a cheap way to enliven a room. And if you don’t sink a fortune into the pieces, you’ll be able to get rid of them without guilt when you tire of the color, they note – which typically happens with any color after about four years, Wolfgang says.
He likes Honeysuckle as a vibrant accent against rich charcoal or taupe. It also looks great paired with white, cream or butter yellow, he says.
Despite his general hesitation about Honeysuckle as a wall color, Wolfgang says he did use the hue in an alcove that houses the crib in a nursery in Copley Township, Ohio. The rest of the room was painted a buttery color, with window coverings in a Honeysuckle and white stripe.
Bayer sees Honeysuckle as a good choice for a teenager’s room, because its cheerful nature might help ease the emotional swings that are so common with teens. She’d limit it to private spaces such as bedrooms, guest rooms and baths, however, and avoid rooms a family shares regularly.
“I don’t know too many men who are going to look at this and say, ’Honey, I love this color,’ ” she says.
Pantone’s Eiseman doesn’t think Honeysuckle is necessarily a feminine color, at least not anymore. Just look at the equipment used in the extreme sports that appeal to many young men, she says: Pink is often used in the graphics that decorate that equipment.
The color is also common in men’s shirts, ties and other clothing.
“Younger guys just don’t have a problem with that the way Grandpa did,” Eiseman says.
She likes Honeysuckle painted on a single wall as an accent, or perhaps in a powder room to lend drama to the small space. In fact, Pantone recently used Honeysuckle paint on one wall to spruce up the entry to its headquarters, Eiseman says.
Look for Honeysuckle in fabrics, linens, home accessories and housewares, she says. Because of its intensity, Honeysuckle will probably often be incorporated in a design such as a floral print or stripe rather than used as a solid color.
Just be prepared for a fling rather than a long-term relationship, Bayer cautions: “I think it’s going to be a short-lived trend.”
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