Is actress Dakota Johnson to thank for the rise of sage green? Quite possibly. Her March 2020 Architectural Digest home-tour video—in which she professes her love for limes (only to admit later on The Tonight Show that she’s allergic) and shows viewers where her dead cat, Chicken, is buried—has more than 21 million views. But even among those highlights, the most memorable element was arguably her sage-green kitchen. It has inspired something of a cult following (check out the #DakotaJohnsonsKitchen tag on TikTok), and Google searches for “sage green” have since tripled. Washington interior designers say the pandemic only heightened the obsession. “We were so cooped up,” says designer and architect Charles Almonte. “[It’s an] outdoor color. I think it’s just very organic that people want to bring that inside.”
Take a look at how local designers used the calming shade in three different projects.
When two empty-nesters hired Alison Giese to turn what was once a weekend home on the Virginia/North Carolina border into their full-time residence, the designer knew she had to lighten the place up. She stripped away heavy brocades and dark tones, subbing in a more natural palette—with sage green starring on the covered porch. Giese opted for a version with muddy, gray undertones that complement the woodsy view and pair well with the brick wall. “It’s nuanced,” Giese says of this particular shade. “It’ll read differently on a gray day versus a sunny day. So it’s interesting in that way, and kind of complex—they can create different moods with it.”
As an homage to the greenery visible from the laundry/mudroom in this Towson home, designer Laura Hodges picked sage cabinetry. “It’s a bit of a connection to nature—it has a sophisticated feel to it,” she says. Although the choice adds a dose of color to an otherwise neutral space, it’s not overbearing: “It’s easy to live with.” Hodges set it off with other natural tones and textures—white oak for the built-in shelving, dark slate for the herringbone floors.
A pair of rooms inside a Craftsman in American University Park exemplify sage’s versatility. In the sun-room, which features a statement wall covered in a tree pattern by Lewis & Wood, the color works as a soothing neutral. In the attic-turned-office—done in a crane print found on Etsy—it adds a bold pop. “It’s that kind of dynamic color,” says Evelyn Pierce Smith, who designed both rooms. “It will work if you want a dramatic, dark space or if you want a [brighter] space.”
This article appears in the January 2022 issue of Washingtonian.