The coronavirus pandemic has affected every facet of our lives—even, apparently, the colors we should paint our walls. As proof, look no further than the colors of the year for 2021.
The time has arrived when paint companies start rolling out their top hues that embody the era’s zeitgeist. And, with 2020 being unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lives thus far, it’s no surprise that COVID-19 has had a palpable impact on which colors are predicted to dominate fashion and home decor next year.
So far, many of the prevailing shades are warm and comforting, and tie back to nature—which makes sense, given that many of us have been cooped up at home and craving more time outdoors, says Debra Kling of the eponymous color consultancy.
So if you’re craving some color therapy in the form of a fresh coat of paint on your deck or in your home office or beyond, check out which color(s) of the year have been announced so far below.
Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year: Urbane Bronze
Urbane Bronze is the oh, so sophisticated pick of the year from one of the biggest paint companies, Sherwin-Williams. And a dose of this earthy shade is just what the doctor ordered as it “encourages you to create a sanctuary space for mindful reflection and renewal,” says Sue Wadden, the company’s director of color marketing.
And if you’re tired of those same cold grays slapped all over builder homes and new-construction condos, you’re not alone. This pivot to a warmer, more natural version is a welcome surprise across the board.
“We in the design community are just so done with cool, icy grays—and Urbane Bronze, which is actually a deep taupe that combines brown and gray, is a warm color that can both cheer and ground us,” says Kling.
Interior designer Ana Cummings agrees, and says the comfort of this rich and glamorous shade speaks to achievement, longevity, endurance, and standing tall through the storm.
PPG 2021 Color Palette of the Year: Be Well
Yup—PPG’s color of the year is actually a trio: Transcend, a subtle sandy hue; Big Cypress, which is tinged with ginger, and one from under the turquoise sea, Misty Aqua.
This grouping also feels extremely of the moment, given the fraught times in which we’re living.
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“Our global color stylists were drawn to these colors as they evoke feelings of compassion and comfort, which resonates and represents the shifting mood of society,” says Amy Donato, PPG’s senior color marketing manager.
Misty Aqua gets big raves from the design world, in part because it adds a playful, vibrant element, while the warm pink undertones of Transcend and Big Cypress are soothing and speak to positivity.
“Misty Aqua is lively and refreshing, and it fits with the trend of blues and greens that most people have been choosing over the last few years—and it would be perfect in a coastal home in Florida or California, or in a bedroom, sunroom, or home office,” says Amy Bly, the design genius at Great Impressions Home Staging and Interiors.
PPG suggests trying these shades with the 60-30-10 design rule, which means 60% of the room is painted in a dominant color, 30% in the secondary one, and 10% as an accent. The Be Well collection pairs nicely with greenery and blond or natural brown wood tones, too.
Behr 2021 Color Trends Palette
Not content with just a few shades, Behr has thrown wide its design doors and embraced 21 colors in a special collection for the coming year. This company’s shades also mirror our nation’s plight and encourage us to view our home as a place of refuge and rejuvenation.
The Behr collection is “a new, elevated articulation of comfort that goes beyond traditional beige, gray, and green hues, and embraces color in a way that can redefine and enhance any type of space,” says Erika Woelfel, the company’s vice president of color.
From quiet neutrals to bolder hues, Behr’s 21-color salute has been sorted into six accessible themes that touch on optimism, calm, and quiet, with shades for each that are made for mixing and matching.
For example, the theme Casual Comfort might live well in an updated farmhouse with the modern neutrals Almond Wisp and Sierra. Or if your rooms are craving a more moody design, look to the Quiet Haven combo of Royal Orchard, a forest green, and Broadway, a mysterious steely gray.
HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year: Passionate
This next paint brand went in the opposite direction with its color of year, choosing a deep-red tone called Passionate. Available only at Lowe’s, this color acknowledges that even though homeowners have been holed up for many months because of COVID-19, they still want (and deserve) to push the envelope a bit when it comes to interior paint shades.
Because of the constant state of chaos and uncertainty in our country right now, “consumers are eager to streamline and simplify their lives and homes—but that doesn’t mean we need to forgo having fun with color,” says Ashley Banbury, the company’s senior color designer.
Valspar 2021 Colors of the Year
As with other paint companies this year, no single color rose to the top of the heap at Valspar. Instead, the company has put together a pretty paint palette of 12 shades that evokes mindfulness and well-being. With these simple yet contemplative hues, homeowners can create a sense of calm.
To craft this special dozen, Valspar took note of web searches and upticks on key words such as “meditation” and “home improvement” early in 2020 as a reaction to the stress related to the global pandemic.
“These lifestyle changes coupled with a surge in DIY home activity helped guide our selection of a range of colors that can not only transform your space but also elevate your mood,” says Sue Kim, Valspar’s color marketing manager.
The result? Colors like this fresh and natural shade, Garden Flower, above, that would feel right at home in a bedroom or bath.
Or consider taking these hues outside to enhance your curb appeal this season. We love Maple Leaf for a front porch, especially when flanked with natural plantings and dark rattan seating.
Benjamin Moore 2021 Color of the Year: Aegean Teal
Soothing and harmonious, just like the warm, blue-green waters of a far-off locale you’re dying to visit—that’s the vibe channeled by Benjamin Moore’s 2021 color of the year, Aegean Teal. This paint company has selected a classic shade that can stand on its own or play nicely with others as we settle in for a long winter’s (coronavirus-induced) nap at home.
“Amid uncertainty, people yearn for stability—and the colors we surround ourselves with can have a powerful impact on our emotions and well-being,” says Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s director of color marketing and development.
And in case you’re hoping to pair this on-trend teal with other hues in your home projects, Benjamin Moore has also released a dozen complementary shades in its Color Trends 2021 palette, including Atrium White, a rusty red called Amazon Soil, and Kingsport Gray, a tone that’s equal parts mocha and cocoa.
According to Magno, Aegean Teal and its corresponding group of 12 hues are both modern and time-tested, making them ideal for paint upgrades that “celebrate the connections and real moments that take place within the home.”
Pantone 2021 Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray + Illuminating
Since 2020 was a complete wash and much of 2021 is likely to be challenging, color giant Pantone has picked not just one, but two colors of the year: Ultimate Gray and a cheerful yellow called Illuminating. The selections are meant to ground us while also encouraging folks to look forward to a brighter future.
According to Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, the marriage of these two hues is one that’s “practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic.”
Using gray as the base or dominant color with contrasting pops of yellow for accent, homeowners hoping to rehab their abodes this winter can’t miss with this invigorating palette. Because let’s face it, don’t we all need a little more sunshine in our lives right about now?