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Despite the dominance of "machine age" black and white, a selection of rich pastels graced the fashion world. The surplus of beige left over from the First World War, found its way into home decor. Interiors were generally sophisticated light neutrals and grays, but rooms were beginning to be accessorized in strong colors.

As the home became the focus of more activities, homeowners favored more cozy neutrals and warm pastels, particularly pinks, roses and sand. The exception was a cool orchid for bedrooms, baths and kitchens. Well into the Depression, bright colors were replaced with muted, more modulated shades. As the decade came to a close, however, decorating magazines began to feature rooms in deep saturated tones that recalled the dark, rich colors of the late Victorian era. Most popular were dark green and maroon.

The 1940s and World War II brought soil-hiding khaki and olive green, as well as patriotic reds and blues. Doing its part for the war effort, the American textile industry even restricted the number of colors available for fabric, thus suppressing the appetite for new colors and new clothes every season. Brighter colors started to return after the war years, though the political and social influences of the time kept colors relatively restrained.

Expressing optimism for America's continuing prosperity, fashion and interior design led the way with a palette full of "pretty pastels" that were far removed from the drabs of the war years. The exuberance of the late 1950s also showed itself in such striking colors as turquoise, chartreuse and flamingo pink.

It was a decade of rule-breaking styles and colors. It was a time of rebellion as men burned draft cards and the sexual revolution was in full swing. Hot pink, day-glo orange, and acid green broke with conventions for color in dress and home decor. With its introduction of vivid accent colors - Blueberry, Citron, Antique Red, Coppertone, Expresso, and Jade - Kohler captured the energy of the times.

Following the psychedelic scene of the 1960s youth movement, the early '70s were drab by comparison. Yet there was plenty of color to be found in ethnic and environmental influences. Earthtones in shades of green, gold, brick, rust and sand were used to create a natural look. The opposite end of the interior design spectrum was the high-tech look-metal and plastic furniture in bright primary colors.

The 1980s arrived with muted tones like mauve, plum and seafoam green. As the economy grew stronger, colors grew more intense as well. Jewel tones, teal and coral became predominant. Black and white also made a sophisticated statement in this time of conspicuous consumption. Another shift occurred in 1987 as the concept of cocooning began to take hold. As consumers found ways to spend more quality time at home, they surrounded themselves with comforting colors like soft peach, bisque, blue-gray, and gentle green.

The soft colors of the late 1980s were replaced by warmed up, straight-from-the-earth colors like amethyst, terra cotta and cobalt, the result of a growing awareness and respect for the environment. Today, consumers continue to look to their homes as retreats. The harmonies of these naturalistic colors, dark and pale, have great appeal. They instill a sense of warmth and security in an otherwise hectic, fast-paced world.