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Spiritual Renewal

Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year helps rejuvenate church interiors, as well as attendees.

By Erica Cottrill   •  May 15, 2017 4:35 pm EDT

Tags: color, design, interior design,

“Beige” is no longer the “go-to” color for church interiors. Looking for alternatives to neutral color schemes, designers strive to get people more energized and motivated, with bolder and more exciting color palettes that impact overall look. The shade “green” though, is about fresh beginnings, conjuring the verbs refresh, revive, renew and rejuvenate.

“In the past, churches featured regal colors such as purple and gold,” says architect and speaker Karen Otis, author of “Be an Architect of Your Life: Design, Build and Start Living a Life Inspired.” Today designers are recreating spaces with fresh contemporary shades that address different needs for attendees, from soothing pastels that enable people to feel a meditative quality to strong shades that generate energy and empowerment.

“I look for colors with the ability to do both,” notes Otis. “‘Greenery,’ which was selected as the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year, is tied to nature, balancing a vibrant energetic exuberance with a soothing meditative quality.”

“Greenery” was chosen for its fresh and revitalizing character—for its potential to serve as a catalyst for new beginnings, Otis reports. Symbolic of “nature’s neutral,” the yellow-green shade evokes a meditative mindset, taking people away from a fast-paced, modern lifestyle and helping them in the search for serenity. “As the Pantone Color of the Year, ‘Greenery’ has a symbolic strength,” Otis notes.

Global appeal

Every year since 2000, Pantone has tapped into global culture to find a color that reflects the current climate. It selects a shade that has historically influenced trends in all facets of design—fashion, architecture, interior décor and food. “As a designer and consumer, I see a larger percentage of people embracing color, and therefore The Color of the Year reflects people’s lifestyle choices,” says Raleigh, N.C.-based interior designer, Lisa Masteller, of Sassafras Studios.

Churches’ lack of resources and small budgets, in many instances, mean that a complete remodel may be out of reach. Yet color—and updates in color—can help transform a space while draining very little resources. The classic shade of green is never dated and is popular because of its role in everyday lifestyle, Masteller notes. In terms of design it can be used as an accent and a way to brighten up a neutral palette with items such as plants, rugs, vases and pillows.

Outdoors in

The importance of and incorporation of outdoor gathering and meditation spaces in modern church design also has an influence on the church’s interior design. “The blurred lines between the interior to exterior has transformed people’s interest in the role of the green shade,” says Masteller. “Nature elevates the spirit.”

Another trend-setting color of late is “Moss” because of its lushness and ability to add interest to a bare indoor space, bringing the outdoors in. “I also believe the textile world has shaped our introduction and prepped us for the Color of the Year,” Masteller adds. “The specific movement between plant life integration in a space along with natural organic fiber materials all support this trend-setting vibrant and earthy hue.”

Masteller notes that there is a changing nature in church design, especially in areas where people eat and socialize. “Across the board, I see churches trending towards multipurpose spaces [that offer] opportunities to gather and [even for churches to] rent their rooms as a way to generate revenue. We, as a church, take in a large volume of people at one time. So why don’t we make the most of it? We are shifting from presentation to communication,” she says.

On a big-picture level, Masteller finds, “As a society [we have] shifted to a more nature-oriented landscape—and, in turn, a focus on nature for peace.”

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