Gray is here to stay, but make room for mellow yellows and serene greens, the trendiest hues in 2013 interior paint color forecasts.

Pantone announced emerald green as the Color of the Year. It is as bright and bodacious as last year's pick, tangerine tango, but Alexandria-based color consultant Jean Molesworth Kee warned what works on pillows might not translate to walls.

"There's a whole world of color forecasting. Every major paint manufacturer comes up with a color of the year and palettes," Kee said. "For me, they are usually meant to inspire."


There is a trickle-down effect with most forecasts, as top colors show up in mass market products, clothing, home decor and accessories. But Kee said those colors rarely show up on walls as paint colors.

Especially not with historically conservative Washingtonians, who prefer to test the waters before diving into wild new hues.

"Washington still has a pretty big love affair with gray," Kee said. "It's a pretty conservative town. People will take a chance, inside a bedroom closet or with little doses of color. They are getting a little more adventurous with doors and trim or inside bookcases for a pop of color. But as for covering walls with emerald green, that's just not happening."

That's OK, said Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "It's not that we anticipate or expect that people will use all those colors in all the palettes," she said. "It's kind of an inspiration" meant to add layers to existing spaces.

Sherwin-Williams' 2013 color palettes are developed from the idea that opposites attract. "Sometimes we live one way during the day and want to escape to something else at home," Jordan explained.

The palettes are meant to evoke a feeling, tell a story. Sherwin-Williams' Midnight Mystery palette, for example, paints a story about the dark side. Comprised of deep blue, murky grays, intense greens and a plum brown, Midnight Mystery is an ode to 2012 cinema and the dark, gothic settings in movies like "The Dark Knight Rises," "Snow White and the Huntsman," "Hugo" and "Dark Shadows."

The fashion-driven Vintage Moxie palette, with its funky pastels, includes aloe -- Sherwin-Williams' Color of the Year. "It's a throwback to the '50s and '60s, [a] very fun, pretty feminine palette," she said

Benjamin Moore's 2013 color palettes, Urbanite, Coastal, Artisan and New Traditional, derive from influences in art, fashion and interior design. Its Color of the Year is lemon sorbet.

Touted for its transitional qualities and the way it complements saturated colors in furniture, lemon sorbet is part of the Coastal palette, which includes soft greens similar to Sherwin-Williams' aloe.

Kee said mellow yellows and soft greens are more palatable to Washingtonians.

"Those are not hugely trendy, like tangerine tango or emerald green," Kee said. "I've heard that pastels are coming back, but I've not been doing any rose petal rooms."

Not sure what to pick? Kee said colors from nature always look good and never go out of style.