Pantone swatch: turquoise

Turquoise: In the '60s, it was muted. In the '70s, it was tinted green. In the '80s, it was neon. And in the '90s, it was scarce.

In 2010, turquoise is back in a big way. Turquoise has already hit the runways and is now being introduced into home décor in a way you've never seen before. It's bold, seamless, trendy and retro, all at once.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, a world leader in color research across all industries from fashion to advertising, shares the scoop on this chic shade, including why it was chosen as Pantone's Color of the Year, how you can incorporate it into your existing décor and which color combinations will make your home look like it popped out of the pages of a magazine.

Why turquoise and why now?

Tropical Island

Turquoise as an Escape
Each year, Leatrice and her team at Pantone forecast the following year's big breakout color. "We don't just think about which color is gaining momentum and pick what we think will be the hottest color in every product category," Leatrice says. "We conduct color-word association studies and gather the zeitgeist in the entire world." From very extensive research and in-depth analysis, Pantone chooses one color that is symbolic of the world that year.

In our world this year, job loss and a still-sluggish economy linger as a symbol of the times. As a universal symbol of healing, turquoise represents an air of optimism and protection against this modern-day struggle, Leatrice says.

Through word-association studies, Pantone also confirmed that turquoise reminds people of tropical oceans and represents escape. This one color alone evokes images of sandy beaches, green palm fronds and crisp waters—the ultimate island getaway.

"Essentially, it symbolizes a place people can go to and forget about their cares, if not actually, then aspirationally," Leatrice says.

Color combinations: turquoise with neutrals

Turquoise and chocolate bed

Photo: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Turquoise and Neutrals
"Turquoise brings excitement to a neutral," Leatrice says. "It's a jolt of energy." Two of her favorite color combinations are turquoise and gray, and turquoise and chocolate, the latter of which is a top fashion color combination.

"The turquoise-chocolate combination is classic, almost retro. It comes in and out of fashion, and right now, it's definitely in," she says.

Color combinations: turquoise with cool tones

Turquoise and blue living room


Turquoise and Cool Tones
Blue-on-blue is a great way to incorporate turquoise into your décor and is, at the same time, a typical maritime combination that Leatrice says has retro appeal. There are many different shades of blue you can experiment with—from soft pastels to rich, deep shades—so be creative and inventive in your initial designs, she says.

Other cool tones that work well with turquoise include violet, which creates a stunning combination of two complex colors (green-blue and red-blue), and yellow-green, which results in a look that is both clear and striking.

Color combinations: turquoise with hot colors

Turquoise and red dining room

Photo: Pieter Estersohn

Turquoise and Warm Tones
These bright, bold color combinations are not for the faint of heart! Hot colors such as orange or lipstick red are already quite vivid, so marrying them with another commanding color such as turquoise creates a completely fearless look.

Leatrice especially likes the turquoise-red combination, noting that they are true complements on the color wheel and therefore fit better together than you might assume.

Does turquoise make you timid? Read the rules for incorporating turquoise into your home.
Turquoise painting above neutral bed

Photo: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Incorporating Turquoise in Your Home
If you're inspired to incorporate turquoise into your home, Leatrice shares quick tips will give you the confidence you need to go forward.

  • If turquoise makes you timid, start with a color combination that is not a big stretch, such as any of the neutrals or blues.
  • Find a pattern or print that already incorporates turquoise so you don't have to worry about finding many different accents and pieces that create the same visual effect.
  • When using a pattern or print, add one or two other touches of turquoise in the room so the eye can travel around.
  • When adding touches of turquoise, do not use items/spaces of equal size. Instead, use turquoise in one large way, one smaller way and one even tinier way. This will help create visual interest and make your home look expertly coordinated.

More advice on boldly colored homes: