When it comes to home design, it’s not easy being green

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When Pantone LLC announced that emerald green was its Color of the Year for 2013, reaction among designers and interior consultants was mixed.


The company, which creates and matches colors for the home and fashion industries, picks a top hue each year based on current use and expected continued popularity.


For New York color consultant Debra Kling, emerald green’s boldness means it should be used only as an accent. “Emerald might be one of those polarizing colors like purple – you either love it or hate it, and certainly could get tired of it fast,” she says.


Other shelter style arbiters, however, such as Elle Décor, heralded the color by featuring luxe goods in emerald green, including fabrics from Scalamandre, Schumacher and Phillip Jeffries, and Baccarat water glasses.


Greens have been strong for a while because of interest in nature, Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of Pantone’s research arm known as the Pantone Color Institute, has said. She calls green “a color of growth, renewal, healing, unity and regeneration.”


So can you decorate with emerald green without becoming overwhelmed by it?


New York designer Elaine Griffin thinks you can, as long as you’re careful.


“There’s no getting around it, emerald is flat out dramatic. Which means it’s best used in small doses, as accessories,” she says.


For those liking the color enough to consider paint, Griffin has a suggestion. “True emerald should go in tiny spaces like foyers or powder rooms, and then dining rooms, which always benefit from a theatrical touch. But it’s too harsh a color for rooms in which you linger.”


Consider malachite accessories. “Malachite is emerald at its best, so take your inspiration from there. Malachite boxes, printed fabrics like Tony Duquette’s for Jim Thompson, bedecked plates and table lamps are all fab,” Griffin says.


Some colors pair well with emerald, and can give a visual pop to a room. Griffin likes yellow and brown, “like a sun-dappled forest”. As preppy go-withs, try raspberry, peacock, Prussian blue, pale rhubarb and turquoise.


And Kling notes that emerald pairs well with other greens: “In contrast to any other color family, the human eye perceives that no two greens clash. This is because we’re accustomed to seeing every variant of green coexisting harmoniously in nature.”


Where shouldn’t you use the hue?


“Avoid upholstering a long-term piece like a sofa in emerald – I promise the visual thrill will be gone in a matter of months,” Griffin says.


At Wayfair, you’ll find Joy Carpet’s 3D graphic Highrise rug in a great emerald. Glass drawer knobs and pulls might be a fun way to introduce this green too. (www.wayfair.com )


Launching in February, JC Penney’s got a bedding and bath collection created in partnership with Pantone; there are several pieces in emerald, trimmed with white or cream. (www.jcp.com )


At Lamps Plus, find Arteriors Home’s Roma emerald cased glass and Greens Circle Rings Ovo table lamps, as well as the smart Kite pillow in an emerald ikat print. (www.lampsplus.com )


At Homegoods, there are some striking emerald wine glasses priced quite a bit less than Baccarat, and a good selection of emerald throw pillows and picture frames as well. (www.homegoods.com )


Emerald is considered the stone of Venus, and there may be a little luck of the leprechaun at work too – more reasons to give it a try.


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