Laurie Gorelick Interiors


Pantone's 2013 Color of the Year: Emerald

It's all over the blogosphere and Pinterest. Pantone, the color experts, have named Emerald its color of the year. No surprise here. Emerald rocked the red carpet at the Golden Globes in 2011. Design fronts lagged a little but in 2012, emerald emerged in force. Thom Felicia and Jamie Drake featured emerald in their rooms at the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House and other designers, like Todd Alexander Romano and Brian del Toro, accented their rooms with it.

    Thom Felicia's Gallery at the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Photo by Alexa Stephenson from


                   Jamie Drake's Library at the 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Show House. Photo by Laurie Gorelick

Last year, I participated in a survey of bloggers and designers by House Beautiful on color trends and predicted emerald to be THE color for 2013. Pantone, in announcing its pick, cited that emerald symbolizes "clarity, renewal and rejuvenation." Prolific in nature, green links us with cycles of growth, re-birth and renewal. After last year's pick of tangerine tango -- selected because of its ability to energize and recharge -- it makes sense that emerald should follow, picking up where tangerine tango left off.
I connect emerald with two things: an emerald strapless satin gown with matching stole that my mother wore to formals when I was a little girl, and the velvet on the living room sofas in my childhood home. (It was a combination of purples, teals and greens that seemed avant garde back then. Imagine how I flipped when I recently came across the same fabric while perusing the wings at the Boston Design Center. Larsen re-released it in contemporary colorways.) Both connect me with a sense of beauty, sophistication and luxury: I am once again the little girl awed by the sparkle and glamour of my mother looking like a queen. At the same time, I am that little girl who can only go into the living room on special occasions.                                                                                                              
                                                                     My Parents' Living Room Sofa Fabric
Emerald certainly has powerful associations. But I doubt that it will have mass appeal. It's a highly saturated color that I think people will be afraid to use in large scale. I can see it mostly in intimate spaces, like dens or studies. In other living spaces, it's not so intimidating when balanced by neutrals and basics, like black, white, gray and beige. In warmer climates where the transition from interiors to exteriors isn't so dramatic, emerald may thrive. Otherwise, it's safer to use it in accents.  
Here are some rooms where I love how emerald is used -- sparingly to lend an air of sophistication and elegance. I love this entry foyer by Miles Redd. There is nothing like a de Gournay wallpaper (except perhaps wallpaper by Gracie). The classic hand-painted chinoiserie paper is exquisitely highlighted by the malachite column lamps and emerald ceramic garden seat. These accents provide just the right amount of saturation to balance the patterns in the wallpaper and chevron-stained floor. Photo by Thomas Loop courtesy of House Beautiful







Here's another fabulous chinoiserie wallcovering (can you tell I'm a fan?). It's green foliage is beautifully complemented by the emerald painted door and ceramic vases. Design by Hutton Wilkinson.












In this vignette, the natural grasscloth and blond wood commode harmonize the emerald-patterned draperies. This pattern, Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler, seems to be the go-to fabric for emerald draperies. I've seen it alot in my research for this post and for my emerald Pinterest board.









If you want to play with emerald in your home decor and are afraid to do it up, start  with accessories. Try art, ceramics or pillows. Layer it on. And if it doesn't work, Pantone will announce its 2014 color of the year before too long.