The Interior Color Trends for 2021 Are Here—& They’re Bringing the Reset We Need

Think: soothing sage, grounding grey, and transportive teal.

December 11, 2020
Photo by Benjamin Moore

Since last year was marred by its share of gloom, one of the things I found myself looking forward to (even more than usual) were the Color of the Year announcements from the design world. That’s not to say that I rush to stock up on every paint select each year—in fact, sometimes they can be a bit baffling (we all remember Pantone’s Ultra Violet from 2018, right?). But there’s much to love about them: the fresh perspective they bring, the anticipatory excitement they drum up for the new year, and the reboot they herald.

The need to make our lives at home as rich as possible is more evident than ever, and the 2021 Colors of the Year do their bit for our relaxing, happy, energizing, cluttered, chaotic, calming, well-loved spaces. Based off of these shades alone, I predict a brighter and happier 2021. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Pantone: Ultimate Grey and Illuminating Yellow

Photo by Pantone

The entire design world looks to Pantone’s color of the year announcement to, ahem, color their upcoming choices. Chances are, the shade they choose will have a big presence the following year, popping up on everything from the runways of Fashion Weeks to the virtual aisles of your favorite home decor sites. The 2021 picks are especially interesting, highlighting the dichotomy between 2020 and (hopefully) 2021. Chosen to represent both positivity and fortitude, the unlikely duo of steely grey and sunny yellow (described by Pantone as “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic”) is definitely growing on me. While I’m still wondering how to pair the two together in my home, I certainly appreciate the intention to represent such a pivotal moment in time. It’s a decision that proves, once again, that color is so much more than just a shade on your wall or hue on your bedspread.

Behr: Elevate Your Comfort Zone

Photo by The Black Home

Rather than hone in on a single shade, paint powerhouse Behr selected an entire palette’s worth of pretty hues for 2021, dubbing the overall look “Elevate Your Comfort Zone”—and comfort is the perfect word for it. The slate of shades—including Almond Wisp, Royal Orchard and Kalahari Sunset—evoke a sense of tranquility and calm, and we could all use more of both after the year we’ve had. My personal favorite is a hue called Canyon Dusk (seen above in a Behr partnership with The Black Home), a clay-like dusty blush shade that is dynamic and serene all at once, and would look amazing in a primary bedroom or bold powder room.

Benjamin Moore: Aegean Teal

Photo by Benjamin Moore

Think of Benjamin Moore’s color of the year as a decorative representation of the vacation none of us got to take last year. Aegean Teal evokes a soothing, escapist vibe—appropriate for a paint color named after a Medditerranean sea, right? The relaxing shade perfectly toes the line between worlds—it's slightly blue, slightly green, light enough to feel fresh and vibrant, but dark enough to feel moody and saturated. It’s the Goldilocks of blue paints, and it’s alllllll ours for 2021. Coat this on if you need a big exhale when you walk through the door (and really, who doesn’t?).

Sherwin-Williams: Urbane Bronze

Photo by Vintage Revivals

Another vote for team gray, but Sherwin-Williams’ pick for Color of the Year is decidedly more dramatic than its Pantone counterpart. Urbane Bronze captures that feel of effortless sophistication we’re always on the hunt for, enriching any space with a hit of is-it-black-is-it-grey-is-it-green color. Admittedly, this is probably my favorite of the bunch: I’m a sucker for nuanced neutrals, and I can just see the potential for greatness here. Like Vintage Revivals did above in a partnership with Sherwin-Williams, I’d team this hue with army green accents, lots of wood tones, and interesting textures to make it really sing.

PPG: Comforting Hues and Nostalgic Neutrals

Photo by PPG

In the gift that keeps on giving, the 2021 Color of the Year crowd treated us to yet another palette of the year, this time from paint brand PPG. Comprising three hero shades—Transcend, Big Cypress, and Misty Aqua—the colors are gentle classics, but with a modern twist that keeps them feeling fresh and accessible. I can see them being an especially big hit with the Grandmillennial crowd, but either way, they’re the chill, vibe-y energy we all want to channel in the coming year.

Valspar: 2021 Color Palette

Photo by Valspar

Last but certainly not least, Valspar’s selected color palette for 2021 is as if someone took your favorite spring pastels and rolled them in the mud. And that’s a good thing, trust me! Instead of reading sticky-sweet, the shades—which include picks like Blissful Blue, Cherry Taupe, and Maple Leaf—are grown-up enough to hold attention in nearly any room. I happen to think the sage-meets-grey tone Granite Dust is an especially great toe-dipper for people who are afraid of taking the leap with color. What are you waiting for?

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I use grey walls and neutral furniture to balance the bold color scheme. It's happy and soothing :-) Nice to know that I was ahead of the trend for once...”
— Giggles

Which of these colors is your pick—and for which room? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Giggles
  • Tavo
  • Vivian Kahn
    Vivian Kahn
  • Megmac
  • Susan Ann
    Susan Ann
Writer, Editor and Stylist


Giggles January 10, 2021
I love the new 'trend' colors. I have been decorating in yellow, orange, teal and it's softer cousin aqua for years. I use grey walls and neutral furniture to balance the bold color scheme. It's happy and soothing :-) Nice to know that I was ahead of the trend for once...
Tavo January 6, 2021
Why does one have to jump thru hoops, to read a food52 article?
So after this page, you need to go to another one to completely read? I guess you get more advertising in, but this is why I do not visit often, as who has time for that? My time is important, also.
Vivian K. January 5, 2021
Surely you jest! Pantone's Illuminating Yellow is the color my parents painted our kitchen in the 1950's! I use a similar shade for my kitchens in the late 1960s and early 1970s before growing up.
Megmac January 5, 2021
I like the teal! But what I really want to talk about is that green tile in the article about "7 Expert Predicted Home Trends"! I would honestly take any color if someone would just come paint for me!!
rebeccab January 5, 2021
Someone please tell me who, where, and what for that amazing green tile!!!Please!
Alyssa L. January 6, 2021
Hi Rebecca! I did a little digging for you—it's Cle Tile's zillige tile in the colorway "secret lagoon." I love it too!
Susan A. January 4, 2021
I adore the chair and desk in the PPG room. And that bed screams "crawl in!"
Charlee January 3, 2021
Grey and yellow? Are they serious? That is so 3+ years ago. Right up there with Mason jars and burlap. UGH.
Vivian K. January 5, 2021
More like 40 years! Grey is OK (in fact, that's what I painted the cabinets in my new kitchen) but definitely NOT with yellow.
Janice January 5, 2021
I love it and I’m going to paint my bathroom that color. Wait a few years and everything comes back full circle ⭕️
Teresa B. January 3, 2021
I will be so happy when grey is no longer in.
jetlove123 December 18, 2020
and what about the amazing artisan (& full spectrum) paint company called C2 Paint.
They have huge paint samples available and have for years, all hand painted and the best quality product on the market.
The paint world is not just about the big store monopoly companies you know !
jamcook December 18, 2020
Only people who don’t really read would arrange their books by color, and not some variation on Content. I am surprised at food 52 for this suggestion.
Bread &. January 3, 2021
You’d be surprised! I’m a former literature major and read about a book a week. I’ve had rainbow shelves for decades. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating books both for content and as design objects. It’s not like it’s a library and has to serve customers rapidly; the books I’m reading currently and want quickly usually just sit on the couch.