There’s a new quarantine palette for painting houses

Spending on services has fallen significantly, but some industries are booming as consumers adjust to life in the coronavirus economy. As we spend more time at home, people buy new furniture and, according to ARTnews, house paint.

The “Marketplace” host Kai Ryssdal spoke to Kyle Chayka about his article on the growing demand for color and the types of colors people are looking for during the pandemic. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Kai Ryssdal: This is perhaps the easiest interview opening question I’ve ever asked, but here it is. Colour? “Really?”

Kyle Chayka: Yeah, yeah, I think people are so bored of staring at their walls that they wanted to repaint them.

Ryssdal: Tell me about this engineer who you started this piece with because it’s only symptomatic of so much of what’s going on.

Chayka: Yes, so Maris Mann-Stadt, an environmental engineer in Massachusetts, found that she didn’t use the dining room of her house very often during the quarantine because no one could come by. And she and her husband used it as an office. But the dining room was painted that dramatic dark salmon color. And it didn’t help when the sun went down and everything got even darker. So they decided to repaint it. And they chose this kind of light, bluish-gray color. And that has helped so far, as if they felt a little more comfortable in their dining room / office.

Ryssdal: And is that the trend? I mean, people are moving away from the drama that used to be in vogue and now they just want calming tones because everything.

Chayka: Yes, I think how all these outward fears in the world and how scary everything is makes you want your home to be as safe and comfortable and not dramatic as possible. So rather as a popular, fashionable pink than just going for something completely neutral and harmless.

Ryssdal: I imagine that paint companies make money with their fists.

Chayka: Yeah, it’s a big jump. I think Farrow & Ball sales are up 20% just this year, and I spoke to an Irish brand called Curator who said that some of their colors were up 60% during the pandemic. So it is actually a ray of hope for them.

Ryssdal: You know, it’s funny that you named two paint companies that I’ve never heard of. And we’re not talking about Sherwin-Williams here, are we? Are these high-end paint companies?

Chayka: Yeah, I think that’s more like they’re already in fashion. They are a kind of luxury paint brands.

Ryssdal: Law. Let me go back to the actual colors people choose. And I don’t want any drama and all that. But why the blues and the greens?

Chayka: Yes, it’s super fascinating. And color is so psychological and emotional. I think it was about bringing the outside world into your home a little bit more. So go for those organic colors that give you a sense of the distance from the forest or the cloudy sky or something. These soft greens and blues make you feel like you have more space than the boundary of a darker color.

Ryssdal: Well, here comes the deeply cynical question. Suppose if we don’t all have to be in our homes all the time, people are going to say, “Oh my god, those greens and blues. It’s terrible. Get me some salmon now. “

Chayka: Yeah, I mean, I think you will suddenly find yourself bored. Right now we’re just so overwrought that this is a break from it. But as soon as we can actually experience things again, I think that fashion will change.

Ryssdal: Law. And of course, paint companies will say, “Sure, we can sell you more paint, that would be fine.”

Chayka: Law. You can do anything. You can turn it on asap.

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