Our retirement accounts and stock portfolios are shriveling and the dark, cold days of winter have only just begun.
What's a down-in-the- dumps homeowner to do to lift that gloomy mood?
Break out the yellow paint, pick up a few bright purple throw pillows and dig around for a brilliant blue blanket. And have you ever considered a red toaster?
"With all the political, economic and global changes we are coming into right now, people want to feel more stable and have a little lighter outlook in their home," says Boulder designer Lovedy Barbatelli. "As far as color and general feel of the house goes, lighter, brighter colors are the trend for 2009."
Here's a closer look at what's expected to be in - and out - in 2009:
* What's in? Bright yellows, bold reds and purples. Light grays, browns and greens.
* What's out? Nothing.
"This is a new phenomenon," says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. "Truly today, there isn't one color family we would not use in the home. Years ago if you told someone to paint their dining- room walls red, they would look at you like you are nuts. Today you see it all the time."
* Why? In December, the New-Jersey-based Pantone Color Institute named mimosa yellow as its color of the year for 2009 because it "exemplifies the warmth and nurturing quality of the sun, properties we as humans are naturally drawn to for reassurance."
But that's not to say that when times are tough, we're all expected to go out and buy a yellow couch.
"On big-ticket items like the sofa, the carpeting and the window coverings, people are being more thoughtful and practical (choosing light browns, grays and muted greens), knowing this is going to be something that is going to have to last a long time," Eiseman says.
Meanwhile, she says, they're adding a little cheer and whimsy with bold hues on accessories and walls.
* What's in? Carpet tiles. Bamboo. Glass.
* What's out? Wall-to-wall carpet.
* Why? Colistra says bamboo is light and environmentally sustainable. Glass lets lots of light through, making a smaller home look larger and brighter. And carpet tiles (flor.com) are made with renewable materials, allow for a creative yet easily changed design and are easier to replace when worn then an entire wall-to-wall carpet.
* What's in? Contemporary looks, clean lines and shimmery finishes on fabrics and in wallpaper.
* What's out? Puffy, oversize furniture. Dark colors. Clutter.
* Why? As people downsize, or at least tighten up on what they buy for their existing homes, they're becoming more discriminating and going for a simpler, more soothing look.
They are not, however, losing their sense of adventure.
"We're looking for a little bit more calming quality in our home life, but still with a little bling," Barbatelli says.
* What's in? Brightly colored appliances. Eco-friendly and laminate countertops. Smart ranges and refrigerators.
* What's out? Stainless steel and granite are fading. Bisque is a goner.
* Why? Appealing to the expected color craze, Viking Range Corp. recently expanded its range of major-appliance finishes from 14 to 24 color choices, and companies like TurboChef, Dacor and Hamilton Beach have weighed in with blue, red and orange oven doors, cobalt-blue dishwashers, and carmine-red mixers and toasters.
Meanwhile, homeowners appear to be growing tired of watching their wine glasses chip on unforgiving granite countertops and instead are looking toward softer, greener surfaces and those that can be easily (and inexpensively) swapped out as trends change.
"People are looking for conversation pieces. They want to show how green they are, and things like soy products, pressed sunflower seeds and recycled paper are a better story than just granite," says Colistra. He says Richlite, a countertop material made of recycled paper, is particularly popular, and laminate, once balked at as cheap, is making a comeback.
Technology-wise, Ty Touslee of Builder's Appliance Center predicts that even "smarter" time-saving ranges and refrigerators will emerge this year. For instance, tell the Miela Master Chef oven what you want to cook and how much it weighs and it will automatically determine how long, and at what temperature, it should be cooked. You can even store your own recipes in its computer brain.