A curated paint palette unveils new classics


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People want their homes to be deeply personal and meaningful, says Nate Berkus

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Where you stand on the use of colour in décor may depend on where you are on the wheel of life, suggests celebrity designer Nate Berkus.

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As an example, he explains that when he and life-partner/fellow designer Jeremiah Brent worked on their own children’s rooms, their relationship with colour and pattern changed profoundly.

“We saw that colour is so important to the children in different ways. It’s because of them we have so much fun experimenting with it,” says Brent.

“When we moved from California to New York,” adds Berkus, “their world was this explosion of pattern and colour. We saw how it energized them, and it has blown open that whole arena for us.”

The right colour can invigorate grown-ups, although they sometimes seem less self-assured than kids with colour choices. “The question we get the most,” says Berkus, “is what’s the best white, the best grey, the best beige—people are in pursuit of the perfect neutral.”

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Choosing the correct ones is a practice the couple hone in their highly popular HGTV design/renovation show, The Nate & Jeremiah Home Project.

Pitch-perfect paint choices are the backbone of the 30-colour Behr Designer Collection the two are currently promoting, and which Berkus describes as shades that are “easy to live with, sophisticated, warm, and that look assembled over time.”

“They’re not one-dimensional,” adds Brent. “They don’t feel super contemporary, and they don’t feel dated – they feel really relevant.”

From the collection, Behr chose as its colour of the year a creamy, warm white called Blank Canvas. The highly versatile neutral stood in contrast to other industry picks, which were dominated by teals, blue, and corals.

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That continued last week, when Pantone named a bold magenta as its 2023 colour of the year.

Berkus shrugs at the idea of breaking from the pack. “For 25 years, I have been vehemently anti-trend,” he says. “I think (trends) are designed to make us feel bad about what we didn’t buy, which I find ridiculous.”

He and Brent think a cozy white was the right call for 2023; they too named Blank Canvas, along with Even Better Beige, and the taupey Tranquil Grey—as their own their personal favourites.

These gentle colours, says Berkus, “address a lasting effect of Covid — that people want their homes to be deeply personal and meaningful.” Blank Canvas is a solid foundation to start building upon, he adds, while Brent says it provides “the freedom of a perfect background for that journey.”

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Even so, both men would dabble in the deeper colours in the collection. “I like a dark tone,” says Berkus. “I like to wear it, I like to decorate with it—I have used yards and yards of chocolate brown linen velvet in my life and probably will continue to forever.”

Brent says he’s been obsessed with rooms being painted entirely black, and that he adores the solid grey of Cracked Pepper, which he describes as contemporary and elegant.

He thinks stronger green and blue options in the collection can make a special kind of personal statement, adding that that because these more saturated colours have been curated, people can use them with greater confidence.

He understands, he says, the power of colour, which he likens to smell. “Colour can take you anywhere. My grandmother was two feet tall and Portuguese and so mean,” he says.

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“Everything — the car, the nails, the sweater — was a very specific Bordeaux red. I will never not think about what that red meant to her.”

Eager to see how people use the collection, they predict the quieter tones will resonate most deeply with other designers, and consumers.

That, explains Brent, is because Behr has tapped into “the biggest trend of all, which is the trend of personalization and the idea that your home can be the physical manifestation of who you are.”

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House, www. aroundthehouse. ca. Check her out on Instagram@ athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and or Facebook.com/ATHVicky.ca.

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