2022 Paint Colors Go Green Evoking Biophilic Home Design for Health and Happiness

Every fall, paint manufacturers announce their new colors for the coming new year and for 2022 the go-to color is a palette of energizing, organic greens that resonant with the wellness philosophy of biophilic home design. Because green is found in the middle of the color spectrum, it is associated with balance which is a biopsychsocial principle championed by gerontologists for living well.

Bringing vibrancy to rooms and life are Farrow & Ball’s Breakfast Room, Glidden’s Guacamole and Blanched Thyme from Valspar. In the more relaxing tones of green are October Mist, a soft, silvery green from Benjamin Moore, Breezeway from Behr, a subtle sea glass green perfect for coastal design and Retreat, a natural green in the Softened Refuge Collection from HGTV by Sherwin Williams.

One green from the master authority on paint for 155 years, Sherwin Williams, stands out: 2022 Color of the Year Evergreen Fog. The name evokes a calm yet energized feeling of nature’s greens but with a touch of gray that represents a wiser, steadier outlook on life. The “fog” is reminiscent of the uncertainty of the recent pandemic but with a hopeful modifier of “evergreen” to define our ability to continue to thrive despite life’s challenges.

“Evergreen Fog is the perfect color for representing a year of rebirth and re-emergence ahead in 2022,” said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing for Sherwin Williams.

Photo: Sherwin Williams “Evergreen Fog”

This tonal green gray color is the perfect backdrop for blending earth elements such as natural woods  or going in a more modern direction pairing it with brushed or shiny gold and silver accents or traditional furniture and fabrics. It also works in larger rooms, such as family rooms or bedrooms, as well as it does with a small powder room or in foyers. And since bringing more color into the kitchen is a 2022 design trend, Evergreen Fog is subtle enough to take on cabinets while still allowing for a lighter, airier feel in a formerly all-white, sterile kitchen (and it pairs beautifully with white or black gray veined countertops or light or dark gray mosaic tile backsplashes).

Biophilia and Health Interpreted Through Paint

While the principles of biophilic design – bringing nature such as woods, greens, water and fire sources inside or at least allowing for external natural elements to be seen from interior settings through beautiful, large windows – the choice of green paint achieves that feeling of these earth elements by creating a quietly verdant environment. Because biophilia is tied to well-being, colors that capture a feeling of nature may actually play a role in enhancing our mental and physical health.

Scientists argue whether color has any true and lasting impact on psychology and physical health. However, the last several years studies have emerged showing some colors have universal influence despite the argument that colors can be interpreted differently based on cultural background. Green, along with its cooler color counterpart, blue, has been shown to calm the body by reducing respiration and lowering blood pressure which is why surgeons often wear green or blue scrubs.

Biophilia means “love of life” in Greek (“bio” is life and “philia” is love or love of) which is tied to positivity psychology. Hues of green are considered the most optimistic colors followed closely by light gray and whites according to a study published in Psychology and Aging. In fact, in older adults, green color tones sparked more positive effects in memory and recall. When thinking of how home design may improve brain health and cognitive functioning, going green, both in color and other environmentally friendly approaches, may be a trend that can help all ages thrive at home.

Part of the health trend in all things including paint is the Sherwin Williams line of SuperPaint with air purifying technology and bacteria. Wadden advises while the paint formulation does not kill molecules in the air, it breaks them down at molecular level and dissipates them creating improved indoor air quality.

Research on healthy living shows more greenery in both outdoor and indoor environments, can improve cardiovascular health, reduce depression and increase mental health. Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found in a study of 100,000 women that those who lived near more green spaces, had a 12 percent lower mortality rate than those living in locations with fewer plants and greenery. Another positive aspect of using the color green in home design is that during the colder, winter months when our landscapes are void of the energetic reds, oranges, pinks, yellows and greens of spring and autumn, the life-affirming color of green provides a pastoral feeling even for urbanites who want a more ephemeral environment at home year-round.

Why Grandmillennials Will Love Green

The greens, such as Evergreen Fog, are also the latest entries into a line of historic greens that have defined revolutionary fashion and decor eras and tap into the nostalgia that is the essence of the grandmillennial home design trend.

While some 20 and 30-year-olds feel that traditional design is dated and old-fashioned and too tied to the older generations of their parents or grandparents, grandmillennials are passionate about historic objects and sentimental color palettes of times gone by. The twist is grandmillennial design breathes contemporary life into granny chic.

Reviewing the history of green in interior design, the color has been used since ancient Egyptian gods like Osiris were depicted with green skin and artifacts. But the turning point for green was in the Victorian era where all things of nature and Parisian influence dominated fashion and home design. Unfortunately, the green dyes in paints like “Paris Green” used arsenic which turned out to be a toxic catastrophe but that did not stop green from being reimagined throughout the ages and in a diverse mix of design styles: the copper patina and absinthe “green fairy” of the Art Nouveau period; the now retro-cool 1950s mint green kitchens; the 1970s Pop Art surge led by Warhol in contemporary design; and the Shabby Chic revolution of the 1990s, a precursor to today’s grandmillennial design. Even Pantone chose “Greenery” as its color of the year in 2017.

The 2022 green paint choices offer grandmillennials not only a nostalgic color but one that creates a refreshingly eco-healthy vibe by invoking the natural world which is an important aspect of this interior design aesthetic. It seems only fitting that green should be the symbolic color to usher in 2022 as a renewed year of living well.

Boomer Home Design Reboot

But grandmillennials are not the only age and style group who will be invigorated with Evergreen Fog. A recent study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS), showed home improvement grew by nearly 3% to $420 billion in 2020 and has been in a “V-shaped recovery since pandemic.” Another study conducted by Home Advisor found half of the 8 in 10 homeowners who finished at least one home modification or redesign project were over age 75. And among those over age 55 who made home improvements, the majority did so after caring for an older parent.

Which brings me back to well home design. As we age, vision starts to change because at age 60 the pupils need three times the light needed when age 20.  The eye translates light into colors and the human retina identifies colors between 400 and 700 nanometers. With the color green located at about 550 nanometers, it is the easiest color for the retina to perceive. This makes hues of greens and tonal greens (infused with gray) the best home design color choice for older eyes.

Wadden recommends choosing a flatter or less shiny paint finish to aid older eyes, “Mattes are best and satin finishes do okay but high sheen can cause confusion because glare lessens contrast which is important as we age to distinguish corners and edges.”

Whether younger or older, going green in 2022 takes on a whole new meaning when we look to biophilic home design trends that help our health and happiness.