It's official: green is the new black! The pundits at Pantone have spoken. Every year, the Pantone Colour Institute - an international think tank of colour experts - comes up with a colour that they see as a reflection of the international mood. This year, it's called Greenery. They describe it as "a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring." Like it or lump it, we can expect to see plenty of that colour in the shops this spring, both in fashion and interiors. Some people will love it, but others find that it sets their teeth on edge.
"It wouldn't be my favourite Colour of the Year," says Niamh Courtney, colour consultant for MRCB Paints. "It's good in that it gets people talking about colour but, if you're thinking of using it in paint, I'd err on the side of caution." Bright greens are bold and impactful, but an entire room painted in Greenery would be difficult to live with. She also warns against slapping the trendy shade on a feature wall. "Painting just one wall in such an intense colour can be very glaring."
The Irish paint company Fleetwood has worked with Pantone to bring out a paint in the exact Greenery shade. So if this your colour of choice, Courtney recommends painting furniture rather than the walls (and not all the furniture either). "Bright green is more obvious and more interesting when you use it as an accent colour. In a white lacquered kitchen, a single stool painted in Greenery would look amazing." Prices for Fleetwood's Greenery range start from €5 for a tester pot (that's all you'll need to paint a single stool) to €70 for a 5-litre tin.
While little touches of Greenery could jazz up a contemporary-style home, Courtney feels that an older house deserves something softer. "If you like green on the walls, I'd go for a less intense, less saturated colour," she says. Her favourite green wall paint is Guilford Green from the American paint company Benjamin Moore. "It's a nice silvery spring green; it goes with everything, and it's soft enough that you could use it to paint the whole room." At €99 for a US gallon (about 4 litres) in the Aura range or €15 for a pint of Eggshell, Benjamin Moore isn't the cheapest paint brand on the market. "The quality is exceptional," Courtney explains. "The coverage is so good that you'd almost get away with one coat."
Another option is to go for a broken colour on the wall, like the big foliage-inspired murals from Pixers. These come from Pixers' standard ranges, but they've been grouped into collections based on Pantone's Greenery. The greens are strong and bright but, because they're broken up into patterns, they're easier to live with than a flat painted wall.
Pixers products can be confusing to order. For a start, they have a huge range, not all of which would suit Irish tastes. Then, you're offered a choice of surfaces including stickers, vinyl wall murals, prints and posters. One of the advantages of the murals is that they can be easily removed - that why they're suitable for renters - but decorating a whole room with Pixers' product could cost anything from €300 to €500. If you're not sure, most of their designs are also available as posters.
One of the safest ways of bringing strong, bright greens into a room is by using fabric: accent cushions, table linen, or even lampshades. If you can afford something handmade and special, there's a deeply gorgeous range of bright green lampshades at Shady and the Lamp in Dublin. They're Irish-made in hand-stitched silk and range from €185 for a table-lamp size and to €495 for the larger silk tassel shade. As well as this collection, they also design bespoke lampshades. Having one made up is a bit like getting a corset made for your lamp; just make an appointment and bring in your imagery and swatches.
Shady and the Lamp's new Forest range could have been designed to co-ordinate with Pantone's Greenery, but designer Sarah O'Dea admits that it was a lucky chance. "Needless to say, I'm in love with the colour. It's fun, bold and citrusy. I'd like to say that I forecast the trend but that wasn't the case - the Forest collection was already finished and photographed when Pantone made the announcement. I just had to laugh at the fortuitousness of it all!"
Far from being trend-driven, the collection was inspired by O'Dea's childhood explorations of natural woodlands. "I really wanted to capture that sense of eerie charm of those dark, damp days surrounded by the endless greens."
It may be that Greenery, which is a difficult colour to use in paint, comes into its own in lighting design. "For lighting designers, it's actually a dream colour to work with because of how warm it is when illuminated," O'Dea says. She also agrees that it works best as a secondary colour. "I wouldn't paint my walls this hue but I'd certainly accessorise with it. My own sitting room is a white box with green textiles and plants; it feels calm without being boring. Or at least that's the plan."
If money is no object, you can't get greener than the Green Green armchair and ottoman set (€4,200), designed by Piero Gilardi for Gugliermetto. It's expensive and stylish in equal measure, made in hand-carved polyurethane and looks like it came from a stage set for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Amazing though it is, I can see that it might have difficulty fitting in with the rest of the furniture in an average Irish home.
See mrcb.ie, fleetwood.ie, pixers.us/wall-murals, pixers.uk/wall-murals, shadyandthelamp.ie and g-experience.it