Each year the Color & Design Team at Benjamin Moore sets out to determine the color that will be named the Color of the Year and the palette of directional colors that will support this selection.  

The red color family stood out across industries – from a focal point at retail, to the sporty use of red for car interiors, to a point of expression for interiors. This color reigned on each fashion and appeared even on famous marches. 

This directed the decision to name Caliente AF-290 as Benjamin Moore’s 2018 Color of the Year.

Caliente is a confident color that is vibrant and full of richness, making it a perfect choice for interiors and exteriors.  It is a red that is easy to live with in that it complements any design or architectural style. 

Caliente invites us to be bold – in big or small ways – it all depends on your style.

Below picture is an example of Caliente used in the dining room of a traditional farmhouse, but notice how the use of red on the walls is fresh and invigorating.

There is also a great mix of styles here with a weathered wood dining table paired with mid-century modern Panton chairs and a modern paper lantern as a pendant lamp. It is an unexpected mix, but it works.  Now this may not be the way many people live, but the idea here is to illustrate how well Caliente complements traditional and modern elements, making it a timeless and classic color that defies the notion of trends.  Although Caliente is our Color of the Year it is far from a “fad color.”

Supporting Caliente is a palette of 23 exceptional colors that provide insight into the hues that have caught the attention of the Color & Design team as they scan the globe for inspiration. There are a few qualities that are important to note as we survey the palette.  

First, since the red color family is of particular importance this year, we opted to select a series of hues from pinks to deep reds, as this range can be used in many elements for the home. Red and the red family have been influential through time in art, design and architecture – which certainly continues into the future.

There is a nice range of neutrals in the “Color Trends 2018” palette. These colors are great for balancing out the use of bold colors, while also providing warmth in a room.

Then we have some cooler colors such as grays, soft greens and blues that can act as neutrals or more prominent colors depending on how they are used.  And of course we have a selection of off whites that help in rounding out the overall palette.

As you can see, these colors are easy to live with, are apt to complement many fabrics and materials, and have staying power making them great options for the home.

However, the question remains – how do we use these colors in the home? 


When working on a color scheme for a room, a great place to start is with a point of inspiration.

Below you can see an image a member of the Color & Design team took during her travels at a design trade show.  She was inspired by the way the assortment of colors of small bowls seemed to complement one another in an effortless way. The next step was to capture the mood of these colors and determine how they could be brought into the home in a cohesive manner.

We encourage you to think about a point of inspiration that may help you to select colors for your home.

Perhaps you have something in mind already such as the fabric of your window treatments or pillows.  Or perhaps it is a piece of artwork to be hung in the room or a photo from a vacation that you absolutely love.  Inspiration can come from anywhere, it just has to be something that resonates with you or sparks some kind of connection that will help you create a room that you love.


Not only will we look at the versatility and usability of our selection of colors, but we’ll also take a look at how these colors relate to two very different types of home styles and aesthetics.  

On the right we have a home that has many traditional elements but there are also some modern touches so we’ll view this home as being a transitional style. On the left, we have a very modern house, which understandably may signal a very different kind of color palette.

Is it possible to use one color palette in different way to suits the style of each home? 

Modern homes are known for their impressive use of geometry, strong lines and planes that join to create distinctive looks. 

While there is often an assumption that modern homes are devoid of color, this home plays with color in a succinct way that delineates spaces in an engaging and welcoming manner.  

Here we have the colors from the Color Trends 2018 palette that are derived from our inspiration image, forming the foundation for colors used through the home.  Let’s take a look inside.

You’ll see our inspiration image here that helps to create a connection between the colors used in this image and the colors used in the home.

Let’s begin with the entry to the home where we are welcomed by a door painted in Caliente. This traditional front door color gets a new twist while directing the eye to the main point of entry.  

Upon entering the home we are drawn in by another warm hue, Golden Retriever. This color can be considered an ochre – a very traditional color that pairs perfectly with the warm wood tones of the built-in cabinetry. Notice that this is an accent wall, and a great opportunity to further complement the opposing red door with artwork that ties these colors together, while setting the stage for the rest of the home.  

As we peer into the home, the initially warm colors are contrasted with Silver Marlin, a soft blue green with a muted quality that allows it to serve as a neutral.

As we move into this home, a small eating area adjacent to the kitchen is also painted in Silver Marlin with White Opulence on the ceiling.  To draw a connection between the Caliente front door at the entry to the eating area shown, a pair of red Eames chairs are not only fun but are in keeping with the overall color palette. 

Looking at our inspiration image, the red bowl adjacent to the grayed glue-green bowl draws a nice connection to how the color combination was developed for this space.

Next, the main dining area continues the mood created at the entry with an accent wall painted in Caliente. This room has angular architecture, expansive windows, warm woods, and a great stone fireplace.  

The strength of red is balanced by these elements – allowing each portion of the room to have its “moment”, which all ties together for a well-designed room. Red is also repeated in the artwork over the fireplace that sits against the warm stone hues, which helps the eye to transition from one area to the next. Much of this room is dominated by windows, stone, wood tones and white with accents of red.

The next room in the home is the living room where we take a bit of a turn to use a cooler, deep gray on the walls.

The charcoal hue, Wolf Gray has the right amount of depth to create balance with a red area rug and accent chair. Wolf Gray also pairs well with Silver Marlin as it is a main color used in the home.

Remember, colors that are part of an overall palette can appear in other areas as accents through painted furniture, rugs, accessories, and fabrics. Drawing connections from one room to the next using your color palette will help to create a nice color flow while giving each space a unique feel.

Below there are some examples of use the red color in form of accents. 

Remember, colors that are part of an overall palette can appear in other areas as accents through painted furniture, rugs, accessories, and fabrics. Drawing connections from one room to the next using your color palette will help to create a nice color flow while giving each space a unique feel.

And some additional inspirations from Color Trends 2018.

Let’s look at the second home while using many of the same colors.

This home is quite unique in that a portion of the home used to be a windmill. The owner purchased this home and built onto it while combining traditional elements and some modern touches that make it feel updated and interesting, yet welcoming with a relaxed seaside vibe.

Upon entering this home we are greeted by a two story foyer and windows that fill the space with light.

Notice the feeling of this home is quite different than the earlier home, but Caliente is still a perfect choice for the front door. This home also uses more white at the entrance which helps to set the stage for a light and airy feel. Looking at the inspiration image, this palette brings red and white together with Wolf Gray on the spindles. 

This image also reveals how just a little touch of red in an otherwise charcoal and gray space can make a large impact.  Sometimes it’s the smaller touches of strong color that go a really long way.

The dining room of this home is painted in Caliente, but here red is used on all four walls, as opposed to the accent wall we saw earlier in the modern home.

In this home the drama comes through with the use of red, rather than accentuating the architecture or other building materials.  The mood of this room is quite different, with a more warm and cozy feel where a casual dinner may be shared by a family, or a lively breakfast before a busy day.

Note that we did not use the ochre hue Golden Retriever on the walls, rather tones of ochre are repeated in this room with the artwork on the walls, the wicker chairs, and even the vintage wood used on the stools that look into the kitchen.

As we come into the family room, a casual feel is continued with Sharkskin on the walls – a deep sage with a gray cast. 

It is a quite dark color that is great in this room because of the expanse of windows, French doors, and trim painted in White Opulence. The result is nicely balanced, and our accents of red come through with woven chairs and throw pillows.  As an added detail, we have a play on the gray tones in Sharkskin with the choice of using Wolf Gray on the French doors. Not only does this provide a break from the trim being all white, but it draws a connection between the slate fireplace surround.

Finally the bedroom is a perfect enclave in this seaside retreat.

The soft and muted blue-green walls painted in Silver Marlin almost mirror a misty morning at the beach before the sun has been able to break through.  As we’ve seen, this color has great versatility in that it was a main color on the modern home, while here it is reserved for one of the most relaxing rooms in the home.

The look is furthered by accents of Wolf Gray on the window trim and variations on gray and taupe throughout the fabrics and furnishings in the room.

Not to be forgotten, winks of red with the small desk lamp and a throw on the bed draw a subtle connection to the rest of the home.

And some additional inspirations from Color Trends 2018.


On to some of the most common questions that home owners face when making color selections.  

First, creating color flow from one room to the next is a frequent concern as many homes have floor plans that are quite open, so finding colors that “work” together well is a common goal.

One of our favorite ways to create color flow is to use a monochromatic color scheme. 

As seen in this image from the Color Trends 2018 brochure, the bedroom and adjacent bathroom work together well by selecting color from just one color family.

Looking to the red family, we used a pale pink called Pleasant Pink on the walls of the bedroom which is light and airy, and very appropriate for a bedroom. The adjacent bathroom is painted in a variation on red called Texas Rose, which is a softened red that transitions nicely from pink.

This idea can be used with any color family and can make approaching color flow much easier.  

Another option is to refer to our Affinity Color Collection. The entire collection was designed with color harmony in mind, resulting in a collection of colors that work with one another to ensure color flow from one room to the next.

Kitchen projects are always an exciting update to a home but they are often expensive and customers want to be sure they are making the right choices.

Paint is a perfect way to bring a kitchen up to date, with painted cabinetry being both timeless and popular– particularly when relatively neutral colors are being used. 

Often a great starting point for selecting color for a kitchen involves the materials that will be fixed in the space (and are unlikely to be changed quickly) such as countertops, tile, and flooring.

Pulling colors from the veining of a marble or granite can help to tie elements of the kitchen together, and can even aid in informing the colors used in an adjacent room, as many kitchens are very open to family rooms and other spaces.

Areas of the home that connect spaces, such as hallways, often initiate color questions. It is important to maintain color flow when moving from room to room, and it is ideal to select colors for transitional spaces that work with multiple colors. Plus, natural light may be limited in these spaces. 

In this home light is certainly not an issue, but the color used on the ship lap walls is White Opulence, a warm white that will complement many other colors. To bring in just the right amount of contrast and attention to accenting architectural details, Black Beauty is used on the window trim, while the railing and spindles seen down the hallway are painted in Wolf Gray.

Black and gray are repeated in small ways such as on light the fixtures, while red makes its way into the color scheme to complete the look with an over-dyed runner.

Listen to Andrea Magno from the "Color & Design" team! 

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