Colour is disappearing from our homes, fashion and the world, but the revolution against grey is underway, writes Sarah Magliocco.

If I asked you to name a fast food chain, your first answer would probably be McDonalds. The brand is one of the most well-known corporate success stories, and got where it is today, in part, thanks to its widely recognisable branding.

As children, giddiness overcame us in the backseat of our parent's car when we saw the distinctive red roofed building and luminous yellow 'M' looming in the distance, ready to be dazzled by red and white spiral clown motifs and bright booths that awaited inside.

Nowadays, the restaurants are streamlined, painted in muted hues of grey, beige and dark green, natural wood tones. Even the iconic M branding is looking a fainter yellow amid the newly pared-back colour scheme.

A McDonalds in Finland, 1994. Photo: Getty

This is for a myriad of reasons, from the brand trying to portray a healthier idea of its products to the simple process of modernisation, but so many other elements in our lives are going the same way.

From street bollards, which used to be decorated with mouldings, being replaced with featureless steel substitutes, to the most popular car colours becoming black, grey, white and silver over the years, there has been a notable shift in how we use colour in everyday life.

New research shows that the world has gotten less colourful as the years have gone on, as our chosen materials and decorative aspects for items have modernised. The research gave artificial intelligence thousands of objects to categorise by colour from as far back as 1780 to the 2010s, and the most glaring finding was the boom in bleak hues.

"The most notable trend, in both the chart and the video, is the rise in grey over time. This is matched by a decline in brown and yellow. These trends likely reflect changes in materials, such as the move away from wood and towards plastic," the study says.

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The study found that the most common colour in the thousands of objects was a dark charcoal grey, and while fewer colourful cars on the road is hardly a cause for concern, we have also been losing our grá for dathanna when it comes to our homes and personal spaces.

However, the tide is turning against the abyss of layered greys that have become popular for interiors in recent years.

Social media has played a huge part in developing our taste profiles over the past decade. While many of our favourite interior design pages showcase the professionally decorated mansions of the rich and famous, the majority are helmed by real people sharing their budget kitchen trimmings or blow out renovations.

Saara McLoughlin, who people will remember from the 2021 edition of RTE’s Home of the Year, considers the relatability aspect to be a driving force behind the penchant for social media influence.

"People are looking for more inspiration online than ever before. Before there was Pinterest or Instagram, people would have only looked at home magazines, and the homes featured in their pages would have been so far out of their reach that people felt they couldn’t really experiment with those styles - and couldn't afford it either," said Saara, whose own home is a blooming bouquet of riotous colour, with expert colour blocking, bright, unique features and a fearless approach to paint.

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"It was all showroom-style furniture and really high end, but with social media there are endless tutorials and you can look at millions of homes and how people have done things themselves. There is so much more inspiration and advice available at less cost. Normal people in normal houses and apartments that aren't multi-million euro architect designs."

Limitless doses of realistic, achievable home design delivered to us in every scroll might be beneficial for the avid DIY-er, but has led to certain aesthetics becoming common in homes across the world as people opt for Instagram-inspired surroundings rather than a personalised look. A somewhat homogenous aesthetic that reigns supreme on social media is the grey and chrome Mrs Hinch-inspired look that will have you wondering if your eyes have suddenly given out on you at the click of the right hashtag.

Under the #greyinterior or #greyhome, it takes a second for your eyes to adjust to the gallery of images in front of you that play like an optical illusion, casting everything in black and white like you have stumbled into a frame from Casablanca.

However, these homes are simply so well colour-coordinated in layers of grey furnishings and decor that they trick the eye into thinking you are looking at a photo developed on black and white film. Sometimes there are pops of blush pink, or warmth is brought in with some orange or pine green elements, but for the most part this look is defined by a dominance of grey, white and chrome.

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With the rise of clean-fluencer Mrs Hinch, the grey look became more popular, as Essex native Sophie Hinchliffe showed how she kept her grey home clean as a whistle, her page growing into the millions of followers over the pandemic. The aesthetic is easily copyable, and spawned hundreds of lookalike homes across Instagram, while others who already had a similar looking home interior style grew in popularity as the look did.

Her Hollywood counterpart could be Kim Kardashian, whose cavernous, white mausoleum of a home is purposely devoid of personality as a design choice, without a single bright frame of art or rogue piece of furniture that isn't white, cream or grey, and unsullied by clutter or ornaments. Kim has dubbed her home a "minimal monastery" in the past, and was inspired by Axel Vervoordt, known as the maestro of minimalism.

While there of course is beauty to be found in minimalism, the tide seems to be turning - when it comes to social media trends at least - when it comes to blank space aesthetics. Architectural Digest recently featured the homes of social media influencer Emma Chamberlain and model and beloved nepotism baby Kendall Jenner to huge aplomb from readers, as both young women’s homes were havens of personality and colour.

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From Emma’s pistachio green kitchen and yellow marble bathroom backsplash, to Kendall’s blue cabinets and signature James Turrell ovoid wall sculpture which bathes the entryway of the home with a gentle pink light, their homes held on to some traditionally minimalist aspects while painting a generous helping of their personal style on top.

Colour is making a comeback, in fashion, interiors, and even in spaces that are traditionally defined by their fondness for "greige" like the tech industry.

After a solid decade of space grey and silver laptops and smartphones, Apple launched their latest edition of the iMac in an array of vibrant colours, a departure from the usual white, grey, silver or black options. It is reminiscent of when the iMac G3 was launched in 1998 in a bleak landscape of grey boxy competition. Apple released their now iconic iMac G3, which had a translucent plastic design in multiple colours.

The addition of colour and transparent details allowed the product to look both futuristic and kitsch, a look that has come back in force in the 2020s. The popularity of the AirPods Max is another example - wireless headphone in a retro over-the-head design, which also happens to come in quite a few colours.

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Our feelings about colour are often deeply personal and rooted in our own life experience or culture, but colour psychology dictates that certain hues evoke moods that are widely applicable across the board. Saara admits that her home triggers feelings of happiness, relaxation and energy depending on what shades are splashed on the walls and draped over various furnishings.

The colour mood enhancement theory is well studied by paint and furnishings manufacturers, and even has an influence on the annual 'colour of the year’ accolades doled out by pigment producers (with lavender and chartreuse shades tipped to nab the nomination for 2023).

Meanwhile, "generic" colours like white and grey generate feelings of order, freshness and organisation, and offer us a blank canvas to build on, but when we step away from Instagram influence and a tentative attitude to concepts like resale value, would we really choose greige, slate, sand. mushroom and fog?

Be it in our wardrobes, homes or tech spaces, the movement against grey is underway.