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Get set for bright, bold colors at summer markets

I am extremely lucky to be able to get a sneak preview of new products a month or so in advance of the major markets and this summer, I'm really excited about what retailers will see in Atlanta. My advice to market visitors: Wear sunglasses.

The colors will be the boldest and brightest we've ever seen. Those muddy browns and subtle gray tones will suddenly look dowdy. Retailers will see bright orange, pink, purple, raspberry and emerald rugs. And it's not just modern designs and kids' rugs. Very traditional patterns are getting over-dyed with acid bright tones and the fringes will positively glow in the dark.

Will these rugs actually sell? Or will they scare off retailers and consumers?

It's a huge gamble on the part of rug producers. After years of seeing (and criticizing) rugs that flop on the floor like little brown wrens, it's a little discombobulating to see rugs that proclaim their domination of a room.

This past weekend, my husband and I went to our local JC Penney to use a coupon in the newly opened Home Store.

The new Pantone display of towels and sheets reached out and grabbed me with their super-bright colors of orange, pink, raspberry and emerald green. A fellow consumer engaged me in conversation. "Look at these colors. Don't you love them?," she said. "I love bright colors. I gotta have some." I couldn't get a word in edgewise, she was so excited.

She chose a set of pulsating raspberry towels. "I don't have anything like this. I'm going to have to change all my colors in my bedroom and bathroom," she said on the way to the register.

If those raspberry towels did the trick for that Penney's customer, what's going to happen when she sees bright, gorgeous rugs in the stores this fall? (And, by the way, we will be seeing the first Pantone branded rugs in July.)

Bright rugs are not exactly the same as bright towels, but why shouldn't they be just as ephemeral as a towel and washcloth? We've been talking about rugs as accessories for years, but people still seem reluctant to use and discard rugs like they cycle out sheets and towels.

In the past 10 years, rugs have certainly become inexpensive enough to use as a two-or-three season fashion accessory. For under $500, you can get a nice looking rug. So why not buy something that is up-to-the-moment in terms of fashion? After a few years, out it goes. Until now, rug producers have been intent on making inexpensive rugs that look like expensive rugs. Why not just go for the flash?

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