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It’s a natural way to decorate

Neutral and natural are hot in home decor this year.

MCT photo

Stainless, chrome and nickel still are big, but expect to also see a warmer range of metallic finishes in everything from vases to refrigerators.

MCT photos

This lamp with its metallic finish can add a bright touch to any room.

FORT WORTH, Texas — What’s in store for home décor as 2008 progresses? Expect to see a lot of more anything that looks “natural.”

Slubby undyed linen upholstery. Neutral-colored natural-fiber rugs. Tables made to look like logs.

“Anything that looks like something that helps save the environment will be big,” says Amy Larrabee, spokeswoman for the Color Marketing Group in Annapolis, Md. “It does not necessarily have to be better for the environment, but it will look that way.”

We’ll see textured neutral backdrops — sofas and tables — punctuated with bright and bold color-saturated accessories, the nonprofit color-marketing group predicts.

The Color Marketing Group gathers about 400 of its members each year to forecast color. It’s serious business. Color can be up to 85 percent of the reason people decide to buy one product over another, the group said. Marketing folks from all manner of companies — Cadillac to Kleenex to Thomasville Furniture — gather each year to look at social, political and economic trends and events, and then translate those ideas into colors they think will be appealing to buyers.

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll see in stores as the year wears on and simple ways to incorporate it all into your home decor, whether you want to spend a lot of money or a little.

NATURAL LOOKS

“Seriously fashionable.” That’s the term the marketing group uses to describe anything that looks handmade, undyed, unbleached.

What color is environmentally “green”? Turns out, it is not just green but also shades of bleached shell, sand, stone and wood. Think whites, off-whites, beiges and browns.

Texture is as important as neutral color. Natural imperfections are big in high-end home decor.

Design tip: Get the high-end look without going broke. Jute rugs, neutral sofa slipcovers and coats of wall paint are widely available and easily done for a few hundred dollars.

Or go high-end, as does Williams-Sonoma Home in its spring spreads of neutral backdrops. “When the economy is low, people want safe, soft, comforting colors,” Larrabee says.

Accents of blue and green create a calming environment, but consumers this year may be flipping for bolder, zestier accent colors as well.

VIVID ACCENTS

Taking a cue from the upcoming Beijing Olympics and the global economy, the marketing group predicts hot hues will be sizzling in throws, pillows and other accents. Think of the colors of India, Asia, Africa and Latin America — deeply saturated reds, oranges, yellows and rosy pinks.

Design tip: Vivid accent colors work well on accent walls, table lamp bases, vases, throws and pillows. The splashy colors add zip to a neutral room. Check out Pottery Barn’s throws and floral pillows. The retailer also is carrying milk-glass lamp bases in marigold (a bright yellow), green, espresso, white or orange ($90).

MIXING BLUES

Trend spotters at the large New York-based advertising agency JWT are predicting blue will replace green as the symbolic color of the environmental movement.

Either way, sky blues and deep navys already are showing up in home decor and products, even in the kitchen.

Design tip: Martha Stewart already is on to this trend. Her Macy’s line includes light blue silicone bakeware. A three-piece set costs $40. Bed, Bath & Beyond carries a light blue KitchenAid stand mixer. KitchenAid products are particularly colorful, especially in its line of mixers that get put away in cabinets most of the time. The manufacturer also is on to another trend: bronzes and coppers.

METALLIC FINISHES

Stainless, chrome and nickel still are big, but expect to also see a warmer range of metallic finishes in everything from vases to refrigerators.

Technological innovations are making a wider range of metallic finishes easier and less expensive to produce, Larrabee of the Color Marketing Group says.

Design tip: Bronze-finished Jenn-Air refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens already are on the market, but not yet widely available. We found them at www.us-appliance.com, where the refrigerator retails for $2,570.

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