Here’s why interior designers say sage green is the hottest color of the year

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Is actress Dakota Johnson to thank for the rise of sage green? Very probably. Its March 2020 Architectural Summary home visit video – in which she professes her love for limes (to later admit The show tonight that she is allergic) and shows viewers where her dead cat, Chicken, is buried – has over 21 million views. But even among those highlights, perhaps the most memorable element was its sage green kitchen. It inspired something of a cult following (check out the #DakotaJohnsonsKitchen tag on TikTok), and Google searches for “sage green” have since tripled. Interior designers in Washington say the pandemic has only increased the obsession. “We were so locked in,” says designer and architect Charles Almonte. “[It’s an] exterior color. I think it’s just very organic that people want to bring that inside.

See how local designers used soothing shade in three different projects.

Photograph by Robert Radifera/Stylish Productions.

When two empty nesters hired Alison Giese to turn what was once a weekend home on the Virginia-North Carolina border into their full-time residence, the designer knew she had to light up the place. She stripped away heavy brocades and dark tones, substituting a more natural palette, with sage green featured on the covered porch. Giese opted for a version with muddy gray undertones that complemented the woodsy view and paired well with the brick wall. “It’s nuanced,” Giese says of that particular nuance. “It’s going to read differently on a gray day than on a sunny day. So it’s interesting that way, and a bit complex – they can create different moods with it.

Photograph by Jennifer Hughes.

In homage to the greenery visible from the laundry room/mudroom of this Towson home, designer Laura Hodges chose sage cabinetry. “It’s a bit of a connection to nature, there’s a sophisticated feel to it,” she says. While the choice adds a dose of color to an otherwise neutral space, it’s not overbearing: “It’s easy to live with.” Hodges highlighted it with other natural tones and textures – white oak for the built-in shelves, dark slate for the herringbone floors.

Photographs by Laura Metzler.

A pair of pieces inside a Craftsman in American University Park illustrates the versatility of sage. In the conservatory, which features a statement wall covered in a Lewis & Wood tree pattern, the color works as a soothing neutral. In the attic-turned-office, done in a crane print found on Etsy, it adds a bold touch. “It’s that kind of dynamic color,” says Evelyn Pierce Smith, who designed the two bedrooms. “This will work if you want a dramatic, dark space or if you want a [brighter] space.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of The Washingtonian.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian

Associate Editor

Mimi Montgomery joins Washingtonian in 2018. His work has appeared in Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Petworth.

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