House Paint: Instagram’s New Hottest Accessory

Photo: Courtesy of Backdrop.
Paint and Instagram will always be in cahoots. What used to be high school girls posing in front of Millennial Pink storefront walls circa 2012 has since transformed into TikTokers flaunting OOTDs in their decked-out bedrooms and influencers snapping mirror pics in their luxury apartments. Since we were stuck at home for much of 2020, IG baddies couldn't just book it to brunch to snap a shot of their new baguette bag. Instead, influencers had to get creative within the great indoors. Add that to the growing exhaustion with the stark farmhouse modern aesthetic, and suddenly house paint is Instagram's new hottest accessory.

Another reason we all want sage green walls these days? Savvy brands are leveraging social media know-how to sell paint to eager Millennial and Gen Z DIYers. Backdrop, the virtual one-stop-paint shop founded in 2018 by married couple Natalie and Caleb Ebel, is likely responsible for some of your favorite influencers' freshly painted apartments. We recently spoke with Natalie Ebel about her booming business and got the full scoop on what's trending for 2021 and beyond. Read on and prepare to be inspired by the flurry of calming hues, vibrant pops of color, and innovative, easy ways to revitalize your space.

Paint is the most affordable way to completely transform a room.

Natalie Ebel, Backdrop co-founder

What Is Backdrop?

The Ebels got the idea to start a business after they laboriously painted a nursery for their first child in 2016. Their approach cuts out the normal pains of painting: multiple trips to and from the hardware store, stocking up on supplies (that you're only kind of sure you might need), and exerting a ton of unnecessary mental energy. Instead, Backdrop makes it a three-step process — choose your color, calculate your necessary gear, and get to work. The brand also offers color consultations and sticker swatches for mess-free sampling.

Unlike many competitor companies, Backdrop also takes full advantage of social media. (Which is exactly how we discovered the brand!) Its Instagram is full of design tips and tricks as well as an impressive archive of tagged posts from happy customers. Backdrop is also surprisingly affordable. Compared to other bespoke paint brands on the market, each can of paint cashes in at a relatively affordable starting price of $45. You can also add on an Essentials Kit for $45 worth of supplies.

What are the best paint color trends for 2021?

The pandemic and TikTok helped kick off a mass home improvement movement, including secret storage coffee tables, bedroom makeovers, and space-saving organization hacks. For more ambitious DIYers, however, paint offered a bold way to makeover a room. Backdrop noticed that people took two routes: relaxing, soothing hues for much-needed tranquilty or adventurous, show-stopping pigments that expressed a year's worth of cooped up energy.

"Throughout this pandemic, people either wanted to stick with really calming colors or go really bold and bring cheerfulness to their space," says Ebel.

Vibrant Blues

A top-seller on Backdrop's site and a major trendsetter of 2021 was the accurately named bright hue, Blue Is The Coolest Color. Ebel noticed that rather than painting entire walls, customers were coating single doors or using the color as a vibrant accent for an energetic pick-me-up. Blue Is The Coolest Color was a collaboration with the funky home and gift shop Coming Soon NY, which is evident in the shades' eye-catching aura.

Sage Greens

Over on the calmer side of the rainbow lies the warm sage green, Drive Thru-Safari. We saw this tone not only made waves in house paint but also pop up in a myriad of categories, from cookware to spring fashion and beyond. Instagrammer Tracy Sheer coated her kitchen in the soft, warm, mid-tone green while interior stylist Anna Brettschneider used it for a client’s studio space and often recommends it to others. Influencer Alyssa Coscarelli dipped her dining room in the chic, earthy hue as well. 

Mellow Beiges

Ebel also mentions that terracottas and cool yellows also made it high on the trends list, but the neutral beige Palo Santo reigned supreme. It's hard to go wrong with such a simple palette. Interior designer Taylor Whitney added a complementary Palo Santo half-moon to her guest room back in 2020 while Coscarelli devoted an entire space to the cream color.

Having 'Palo Santo' on your walls gives it a calming effect in itself.

Natalie ebel, backdrop founder

What are the best paint color trends for 2022?

We're now reaching the final stretch of 2021, and pigment professionals from Pantone to Benjamin Moore are releasing their annual colorful predictions. Behr recently announced that its silvery green shade of the year, Breezeway, will bring some much-needed peace to our homes in 2022. Pantone doesn't announce its color of the year until December, but recently released a fashion trend report for spring and summer 2022 that's filled with bright bubblegum pinks, spontaneous yellows, and vibrant magentas. At Backdrop, however, Ebel has her sights set on warm lilacs, light peaches, and slate blues.

Warm Lilacs

Backdrop GIn Blossoms (Coming Soon)

"I think warm lilac is going to be a really popular," Ebel says. "It’s a tricky shade to nail. When you look at color you have to think, ‘I like this color on paper by itself, but can I live in it inside an entire room?'” Rather than giving the child-like vibes of a brighter purple, lilac adds a nice cool touch to any room in need of some subtle color. Get ready to spot this shade in bathrooms, bedrooms, and maybe accenting a squiggly mirror or two.

Slate Blues

Backdrop Silverlake Dad (Coming Soon)

This "super moody" slate blue is great for interiors and brings a mature flair to your space — hence the name "Silver Lake Dad". It's a nod to where Natalie and Caleb Ebel's currently reside in Silver Lake, Califronia, and refers to a certain neighborhood type: "The person at their local Intelligentsia, scrolling through NPR’s Twitter feed, pondering how to teach the next generation of boys about feminism." Regardless of your association to the color, a greyish blue is a wonderful relaxed addition to any room.

Light Peaches

Backdrop Earthly Delights (Coming Soon)

This light and bubbly shade is a more mellow edition of Backdrop's bold, dark peach, Apertivo Hour, but still brings packs a pigmented punch. Both Earthly Delights was made to spark creativity. According to Backdrop, the shade should "make you happy, but like an earnest sort of happiness."
If your white walls now seem a tad bit boring like mine do, head on over to Backdrop's site and scoop up some groovy premium paint. And, of course, check back for quick access to the retailer's fresh batch of colors coming soon this November. Baguette bags, Y2K hair clips, and phone cases beware — paint is social media's next big thing.
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