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