How do you feel about beige? It’s a nice neutral. There are many shades of beige. It goes with any color.

One can’t really complain about beige. It doesn’t argue. It doesn’t object. It just blends right in. And just about every patio furniture set on the market has a version that comes in this benign, innocent shade.

But maybe beige, tan, taupe and all the shades in between are playing it a little too safe, no? Maybe it’s time to create a little more drama in the landscape.

Enter navy. According to the latest research from Trends magazine, as well as Esse Tarrolly’s “2016 Outdoor Furniture Trends” report, navy is the new outdoors neutral. It is always crisp. Navy marries nicely with an array of colors, and it can be particularly fresh with coral, aqua, gray or cream. Add a touch of gold and navy becomes luxurious. If you stick to a simple palette of navy and white, you create a beachy, nautical feeling that says one doesn’t need to leave the backyard for a vacation. That’s where those gold, bronze or silver accents can even mimic the shimmering insides of seashells.

And instantly I’ve conjured up all sorts of dreamy imagery in my head … just by envisioning different color combinations. Color can do so much for an outdoor space. Colors emit emotions and give us a chance to express ourselves … without saying a single word.

Each year we wait for December’s announcement of Pantone’s color of the year to see what single shade and its companions will be hot for the coming year. But as summer winds down, I just can’t wait. I dug around to find out what some interior designers are preliminarily predicting for the outdoors. In addition to navy taking beige’s place as the new neutral, here’s what else I learned.

Neon lights. Neon colors are here to stay. While you won’t see a box of highlighter shades lined up in a row, Tarrolly says we’ll notice a more playful approach with these bold colors. Think of a space with a little attitude—one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. These brights can be used in furniture fabrics to complement bold buds or as fun accents. You can even pair them with neutrals or pastels for an unexpected contrast, immediately drawing the eye.


Bohemian rhapsody. It’s not just the name of a popular song by Queen anymore. It’s reflective of the global trend in bold outdoor color combinations that feel earthy—making the space feel like it’s from an exotic locale.

Remember acid-washed jeans? Weather-washed patio chairs and accessories that come in shades of gray, purple and mauve give a comfortable feeling, as if they’ve been settled in a space for years—aged, yes, but aged gracefully. Almost a complete opposite of the neon trend, these shades are subtle and introverted, Tarrolly says, creating mild elegance.

What colors do you expect to see in exterior designs and outdoor hardscapes in the future?