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Best Supporting Hue

Home fashion experts don’t see a leading role for Pantone’s Marsala

After combing the globe discerning color influence, from fashion and technology to film and art, Pantone selected the earthy, rich Marsala as their 2015 color of the year.

The December 4 announcement noted that not only was Marsala a significant influence on the catwalk for 2014/2015 fashion shows, but was also seen in jewelry, graphic design and directional shows for home furnishings.

“I’ve seen way too many burgundy dining rooms … to love this color again anytime soon.”
- Maria Killam, Colour Me Happy

Reactions to the color have been pouring in, and as we interviewed various industry experts, we found opinions spanning a broad spectrum, from slightly positive to downright snarky. Now that the reviews have been exhausted and the hubbub about this fortified wine shade has died down, our color experts, designers, and manufacturers are ready to tell you what this color means for the home furnishings and interiors business in 2015.

“I’ve seen way too many burgundy dining rooms in the thousands of homes I've been in,” says design blogger, decorator and color expert Maria Killam. “They’re still too fresh in my mind to love this color again anytime soon.”

Other color experts see the appeal of Marsala, but register surprise at its selection. “What a difference a year makes,” says Laura Levinson, chief creative officer for Valdese Weavers. “We have transitioned from clear bright colors to a soft wine shade with multiple brown undertones. It’s such a departure from Pantone’s most recent launches.”

“There is a wealthy feel to it, and it will appeal to an older crowd.”
- Laura Levinson, Chief Creative Officer, Valdese Weavers

“At first, I was a bit puzzled by the selection,” says Denise McGaha, principal of Denise McGaha Interiors and 2014 Style Spotter. “However, I have used this color in several recent projects. I predict that all ranges of brown will be making a comeback.”

Supporting Shade

In talks with design and color professionals, it’s evident that Marsala won’t play the lead in interiors. “I'm not convinced the home furnishings market will embrace this color in a big way,” says Killam.

“I think everyone sees the Color of The Year and immediately responds with a love/hate relationship because they envision an entire wall or room of this color,” says McGaha. “Not so. This color will never be a wall paint for me. However, I will use it in upholstery fabrics, pillows and even art.”

Levinson segments the color’s use in demographic terms. “Marsala isn’t a youthful color. It’s for more established clientele,” she says. “There is a wealthy feel to it, and it will appeal to an older crowd. I see it as a niche market.”

“Small doses and rich textures will amplify the beauty of this color …”
- Denise McGaha, Principal, Denise McGaha Interiors

Although many trends travel westward from Europe, Marsala didn’t follow that route. “We didn’t see it in Europe,” says Levinson, referring to the Italian and French home shows Proposte and Maison d’Objet she and her designers attend on an annual basis. “Things there were bright, clean, and clear.”

While Marsala isn’t at the top of Levinson’s list, PPG’s Color of the Year, Blue Paisley, stands a better chance of ending up in her looms. “Indigo and inky blues are bigger trends for us and they are on the retail floor as well,” she says. “Blue Paisley is a deep, saturated, modern blue. It pays a nod to teal, turquoise and is a beautiful follow-up to the indigo craze.”

Likely Roles

McGaha sees Marsala as a speck on the 2015 color horizon. “Small doses and rich textures will amplify the beauty of this color: mohair, velvet, hair hide,” notes McGaha. “Try imagining this in hair-hide leather on a door or as an accent color to tangerine and bright yellows. It’s also beautiful in lacquered case goods complemented with brass hardware.”

“Marsala pairs beautifully with grey, brown and bright saturated colors.”
- Denise McGaha

“My experience with the color of the year is that it either resonates with us or it seems like it comes out of nowhere,” says Killam. “This year it's the latter. I see it in accessories or small appliances, but not in larger items and permanent fixed elements like tile and countertops.”

“I think Marsala will show up more in leather than fabric,” says Levinson. “It will pair nicely with rustic interiors which evoke a feeling of Sedona or a small Tuscan village.”

Ensemble cast

Now that we’ve established Marsala in a supporting role for 2015, let’s look at ways to incorporate the color in retail displays and home interiors.

“Pair deeper colors with it: inky blues, brassy golds. It also goes well with bleached wood.”
- Laura Levinson

“Marsala pairs beautifully with grey, brown and bright saturated colors,” says McGaha. “This is how I have used it recently and hope to continue to do so. I see Marsala working well with violets and citrusy tones. It will also make for a perfect companion to taupes and greys.”

“A fresh mandarin orange color could bring it to life,” says Killam, “along with indigo blues and caramels which will still be strong going into 2015. Take burgundy and navy (which is ‘80s) but add bright turquoise to the combination? That could give it a hit of new.”

“It will be beautiful with linen,” says Levinson. “Pair deeper colors with it: inky blues, brassy golds. It also goes well with bleached wood.”

Maybe Marsala shouldn’t feel so bad. Every color can’t be a star attraction, and there’s great value in ensemble players. As Levinson notes, “Will heads turn when Marsala is featured in the home? Probably not, but it’s a color that will stand the test of time.”