For years I recommended a soft, ivory or beige coloring for the interior, “neutral feel”, of my client’s homes. I specifically chose an earth coloring for the natural, elemental qualities it offered. Qualities, of safety, grounding, and integrity where high on my radar during the 80’s & 90’s. Our American culture was changing and influencing our lifestyles. Woman began to explore the possibilities of being more than a housekeeper, and a stay-at-home Mom. There was a cry for liberation and more financial benefits. Family ideals were about moving up, socializing, getting the kids to afterschool activities, moving to the Berbs, and creating success. It was like we were all doing too much, yet not doing a lot together. Mail gathered at the kitchen table, instead of family dinners. The Earth Element was a perfect setup for bringing about a feeling of home, and surrounding people with the warm embrace of security. The Sherman Williams colors of Latte, Buff, Harmony ere my ideal choices.  Using the earth element helped calm the fast pace of family life.

As the American culture advanced, the turn of the century brought about social media platforms. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, You Tube and Instagram, melded people instantaneously, like mercury, when separated we merged into a culture that wanted to be seen and heard! Americans experienced a huge shift of consciousness. We found ourselves in constant movement with not enough “time”. There seemed to be a misperception of personal focus, that distracted us.

Suddenly, Gray, a metal element, became the color of choice! Gray became the new neutral. The color, neither black nor white became the most versatile. It is the go between light or dark, making it a good match for other neutral shades, such as taupe, ivory, and beige. It expresses the values of focus, self- reflection, and speaking up appropriately. Its round, as is, the Coronavirus. It can be converted into a shield, as well as a sword, and has been a significant design influence, in both commercial and residential environments.

Does Culture influence Color?
Colour Palette

So now what?? Is Gray still going to be the design trend in 2021? When you look at the Colors of The Year, we are definitely moving away from our love of cool neutrals. Instead, paint companies are encouraging us to be bolder and dynamic in our décor. In my view this is a deeper dive into what makes us feel good? What color aides in our personal healing? What colors represent our deepest desires and our self-reflection?

In contrast, Pantone, widely recognized as an authority on predicting color trends, has chosen Ultimate Gray (17-5104) as its color of the year for 2021.

For me personally, I always allow the clients position in life to dictate the elemental colors that supports the families overall well-being. Remember one of the most profound healing elements in nature, is the presence of color.

I would rather, read the trend, then be the trend. Trends come and go. The support of well-being is forever. Use your clients’ intentions as your guide.

Below are a few tips, which will support your choices and process.


Take all your designs very personal. Listen and Look for your clients needs.

Ask your clients what emotions they would like to feel in their space. Examples could be quiet, energized, and relaxed. Pair the emotional wish list with your ba gua and 5 elements for color choices and use the hues that best fit into personalizing their environment. Activate their Intentions. Their choice of words expresses an elemental preference, listen carefully. Examples of words you may need to remedy could be, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious.

Colour Flower

Bring the sky into your clients’ homes.

Add a Harmony selection, SKY HIGH and add expansion! Paint the ceilings of Kitchens, Garden rooms, Patios, and Bathrooms. Be mindful to balance the chi and still keep the client feeling grounded, use your magic!

When adding an accent color, be mindful to add it somewhere else in the design of the space.

Remember to marry the chi flow from one room to another. Use color to replace a missing or awkwardly shaped Gua. If you are concerned about adding too much of a bright color to a space add it to only two connecting walls and leave the other two walls as a neutral for relief.

Check out BENJAMIN MOORE “chameleon colors”.  These are paints that because they have several different color tones mixed in, take on a different tone at various light levels. For example, in low evening light it might look more pearly or luminescent than it would with bright morning sunlight streaming through the windows. The luminescence may bring in a subtle metal energy.

Color enhances the chi of any space:

• Lift energy: yellows, reds, turquoise, any bright color
• Slow down energy: browns, rusts, all dark colors
• Soften energy: light pinks, greens, corals, pastels
• Draw energy: reds, purples, and gold
• Neutralizes energy: whites, beiges and tans
• Enhances creativity: oranges, teals, vibrant blue
• Enhances spirituality: purples, violets, white
• Romantic colors: pinks, reds, oranges, hot pink

Wishing You All a Colorful Summer,
Mary Dennis
Dean of Design, The Conscious Design Institute
Living A Day Conscious Life Series