The color gods have sent us a quick fix for the winter blahs: Honeysuckle.
The vibrant pink has been named 2011's Color of the Year by Pantone, the color-services company whose advice influences what we are sold to wear, decorate with and even eat off of.
Pantone chose Honeysuckle for its adrenaline-pumping quality, explained Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. It's a happy color, she said, a hue that can energize us and lift our spirits in times of economic adversity.
Even the color's name is evocative. People associate the name Honeysuckle with the sweet scent and taste of the plant it's named for, she said, and that association conjures pleasant feelings.
Honeysuckle may also bring the Barbie doll to mind, but Eiseman begs to differ.
"It's definitely not Barbie," she said with a laugh. "It's definitely more sophisticated."
Honeysuckle is a reddish pink with a blue undertone. It is stimulating, yet not as aggressive or passionate as red, Eiseman said. It's also somewhat complex, giving it more grown-up appeal than simpler pinks.
When it comes to home decorating, designers say it's a color best used with restraint.
Honeysuckle is "a vibrant, in-your-face kind of color," said Pamela Bayer, an interior designer in Hudson, Ohio. She believes it's best used as an accent, paired with more subdued colors to tone it down.
Fellow interior designer Joel Wolfgang agreed. "I can't imagine it on a wall. I can't imagine it as an area rug," said Wolfgang, a designer based in Palm Springs, Calif. "It needs to be used cautiously."
That's not to say you should shy away from it, both designers said. Particularly if it's used in accents and accessories such as pillows, lampshades and towels, it's a cheap way to enliven a room. And if you don't sink a fortune into the pieces, you will be able to get rid of them without guilt when you tire of the color, they noted -- a phenomenon that commonly happens with any color after about four years, Wolfgang said.
He likes Honeysuckle as a vibrant accent against rich charcoal or taupe. It also looks great paired with white, cream or butter yellow, he said.
Gold tending toward beige also works well with Honeysuckle, Bayer said. So does muddy brown, which makes the color more appealing to both sexes.
Still, Patone's Eiseman doesn't think Honeysuckle is necessarily a feminine color, at least not anymore. Just look at the equipment used in the extreme sports that appeal to many young men, she said: Pink is often used in the graphics that decorate that equipment.
Pink is also common in men's shirts, ties and other clothing. "Younger guys just don't have a problem with that the way Grandpa did," she said.
Eiseman likes Honeysuckle painted on a single wall as an accent, or perhaps in a powder room to lend drama to the small space. In fact, Pantone recently used Honeysuckle paint on one wall to spruce up the entry to its headquarters, she said.
Despite his general hesitation about Honeysuckle as a wall color, Wolfgang said he did use the hue in an alcove that houses the crib in a nursery in Copley Township, Ohio. The rest of the room was painted a buttery color, with window coverings in a Honeysuckle and white stripe, he said.
Bayer also sees Honeysuckle as a good choice for a teenager's room, because its cheerful nature might help ease the emotional swings that are so common with teens. She would limit it to private spaces such as bedrooms, guest rooms and baths, however, and avoid rooms a family shares regularly.
"I don't know too many men who are going to look at this and say, 'Honey, I love this color,' " she said.
Look for Honeysuckle in fabrics, linens, home accessories and housewares, Eiseman said. Because of its intensity, Honeysuckle will probably often be incorporated in a design such as a floral print or stripe rather than used as a solid color, she said.
Just be prepared for a fling rather than a long-term relationship, Bayer cautioned. "I think it's going to be a short-lived trend."