Home & Garden

The 2021 colors of the year have arrived—here’s what to expect

One word: Positivity

PPG's color of the year Transcend PPG1079-4 and Pantone's 2021 Fashion, Home & Interiors cotton chip set Credit: PPG / Pantone

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With all the upheaval 2020 has brought us, it’s no wonder we crave balance as we count down to zero and a new start in January.

With this in mind, the home design world’s Powers That Be have soldiered on, announcing their colors of the year for 2021. Regardless of brand, we’ve noticed a common objective of focusing on positivity.

It’s how you reach this goal that's up to you. For example, do you want your surroundings to soothe and comfort or excite and energize?

Finding comfort in color

Whether you’re surrounding yourself in calming tile accents during a long tub soak or cooking that thousandth dinner against a backdrop of cheerful cabinets, there’s something to be said for shades that relax the soul. Especially in a world that may not always follow suit.

Amy Donato, PPG Paints’ senior color marketing manager, says, “2020 threw us a big curve, and it’s important to consider such relevant, life-altering events in our color forecasting process.”

With this in mind, the Fortune 500 global paint supplier revisited its annual January Global Color Forecasting Workshop (virtually, of course) and agreed that an unprecedented year called for a first: a palette that represents an era focused on kindness, humanity, comfort, and wellbeing.

“When we looked for inspiration, we were drawn toward colors that evoke feelings of compassion and comfort,” Donato explains. “When the world experiences events that cause unrest, anxiety, and grief, as a society we tend to naturally gravitate toward these hues because they allow us to create a restorative and optimistic personal retreat from the world outside our door.”

It’s ironic that 2020 had us quite literally escaping indoors.

To ensure colors represent society’s shifting mood as it navigates the new normal, PPG created a three-color palette. Transcend is its hero color (a mid-tone, oatmeal hue), according to Donato. She calls the complementary tone of Big Cypress a shaded ginger that is “the equivalent of a big, comforting hug for your home,” while Misty Aqua is a watercolor cerulean that pairs unexpectedly fresh against its companions’ warm, earthy tones.

Erika Woelfel, vice president of color marketing at Behr, agrees. “We’re all adapting to change this year,” she says, which is why Behr has created a Trends 2021 palette with an eye towards “elevated comfort to help ease decisions and changes.”

behr 2021
Credit: Behr

Behr offers a number of soothing wall paint colors, including from its Casual Comfort palette, Almond Wisp PPU5-12 at left, and, at right, from the Quiet Haven palette, Broadway PPU18-20.


Behr’s collection calls out six themes that encourage a vibe that helps tune out the high anxiety of 2020. And the names say it all.

The Casual Comfort palette soothes through the cozy neutrals of a casual farmhouse (think warm-toned hues like Almond Wisp PPU5-12 and Sierra N240-4).

You’ll find soft pastels like Seaside Villa S190-1 and Wishful Green M410-2 in the aptly named Subtle Focus grouping.

Woelfel says Behr’s Calm Zone nurtures with blues and greens that “trend alongside our society’s desire for self-care and wellbeing.” She notes the theme’s shades Jojoba N390-3 and Voyage PPU13-07 create calm, restorative spaces.

Even though Behr’s Quiet Haven themed colors are darker and more evocative, shades such as Royal Orchard PPU11-01 and Broadway PPU18-20 are still grounding. And the Outdoor Escape palette is all about breathing deeply among shades like Barnwood Gray PPU24-07 or Cellini Gold HDC-CL-18.

Lastly you’ll find the lux shades of Behr’s Optimistic View are all about looking towards a brighter future, with festive colors like Saffron Strands PPU6-02 and Kalahari Sunset MQ1-25.

Finding excitement in nature

Mother Nature has always offered a silver lining for interior designers—consider her a bright spot always available even during dark days.

It has been such a welcome respite that a major 2020 interior design trend was bringing the outside in. We see this continue, as 2021 palettes find inspiration in open skies and empty outdoor spaces.

Deeply soothing and balanced, Benjamin Moore recently revealed its Color of the Year 2021 as Aegean Teal 2136-40. This harmonious blue-green makes you reflect and reset. Its 2021 palette companions comfort as much as they uplift through hues like Gray Cashmere 2138-60, Amazon Soil 2115-30, and Rosy Peach 2089-20.

Benjamin Moore
Credit: Benjamin Moore

Benjamin Moore's color of the year is Aegean Teal 2136-40 (at right), and it pairs well with companion colors like Rosy Peach 2089-20 (at left).


Benjamin Moore’s director of color marketing and development Andrea Magno says, “Amid uncertainty, people yearn for stability. The colors we surround ourselves with can have a powerful impact on our emotions and wellbeing. Aegean Teal 2136-40 and the corresponding palette express a welcoming, lived-in quality that celebrates the connections and real moments that take place within the home.”

And, who can’t relate to the morning woodsy walk of Foggy Morning 2106-70, a historical nod of days gone by with Beacon Hill Damask HC-2 and the classic Earthy richness of Potters Clay 1221.

Pantone takes a similar turn with its early 2021 palette, which is just as uplifting for interior décor, as Pantone’s colors are typically for spring/summer fashion runways.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says that its early 2021 palette “[offers] a range of shades illustrative of nature.”

New Pantone colors include the warm golden-orange 14-1050 Marigold, the serene 15-4020 Cerulean, the earthy 18-1248 Rust, the joyfully sunny 13-0647 Illuminating, and the Paris-in-spring-inspired 18-4140 French Blue.

Eiseman says, “Spring/Summer 2021 combines a level of comfort and relaxation with sparks of energy that encourage and uplift our moods.”

I think we can all agree we need that boost.

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