Introducing the 2021 Colors of the Year!

It’s awards season! And I don’t mean the Academy Awards. I mean that much anticipated time of year (at least in the design world) when color expert Pantone and the big paint companies name their choice for  Color of the Year.

With the exception of Pantone, this year, soft, muted, calming tones were the big winners. Warm hues edged out cool hues. Earthy colors are coming back into favor, and blues and greens are still top of the heap.

Let’s take a closer look.



The Pantone Color Institute is considered the grand dame in the creative world, and its Color of the Year choice is always a highly anticipated announcement. In fact, according to Pantone’s website, “more than 10 million designers and producers” rely on its products and services for color inspiration and guidance.

This year, Pantone surprised us all by choosing not just one but two Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, a shade of yellow.

WHAT THEY SAY: As people look for ways to fortify themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome the continuing uncertainty, spirited and emboldening shades satisfy our quest for vitality. PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power. PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation. The colors of pebbles on the beach and natural elements whose weathered appearance highlights an ability to stand the test of time, Ultimate Gray quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness and resilience.

WHAT I SAY: Gray? Really? Didn’t they get the memo that we are tired of gray? I understand yellow since we could all use a bright, cheery color in our lives right now. And if you need to spice up your boring all gray room, yellow is the perfect complement to do that. So that’s how I’m playing this choice. Bring some happy into your “work from home” life with a shot of sunshine!

Here are a few examples of this color combo that I think work well:

Design by Ali Cayne | Photo by Brittany Ambridge | Domino



Aegean Teal is Benjamin Moore’s top color dog this year.

WHAT THEY SAY: A harmonious blend of blue-green and gray, Aegean Teal is inspired by the naturally occurring colors that happen all around us and the emotional value they create. It’s a quietly striking color which bridges the gap between a warm and cool palette and offers a balanced alternative to navy or green.

WHAT I SAY: I’m loving this soothing, moody hue which is reminiscent of a cloudy day on the Aegean Sea, rather than the vibrant sunshiny colors we normally associate with that coastal area. I’ve always had a fondness for shades of blue/green, so needless to say Aegean Teal is my favorite choice of all the paint company Colors of the Year. This color lends itself especially well to traditional rooms and kitchen cabinets.

Here are a few examples of how to use this color in your home:

Designer Unknown


Designed by Kenneth McRobbie & Colin Blanchard


Designer Unknown | Italian Bark



Urbane Bronze is the shade Sherwin-Williams has chosen for its Color of the Year.

WHAT THEY SAY: Urbane Bronze is a hue that taps into nature with a warmth, comfort and simple sophistication that breathes down-to-earth tranquility. It is a color rooted in nature, but it also has a unique ability to ground a room through organic appeal.

WHAT I SAY: Urbane Bronze is a wonderful shade of brown, gray, red and green all mixed up together. It is the perfect tone for trending dark, moody rooms.

I love this color so much that I painted it on an accent wall in my own dining room!

Design by Marcia Moore | Photo by Karen Palmer


Here are a two more rooms that rock this moody hue:

Other paint companies, including Behr, PPG and Dulux chose more earthy shades of beige and terra cotta and muted, dull shades of blue and green. I have to say I’m not a fan of these colors. They all seem very depressing to me. Who needs that right now???



Each year there are interior designers that weigh in on what the popular colors will be. I think we are far more spot on than the paint companies in 2021. I am seeing more happy, cheery colors, jewel tones, blues and greens (brighter shades than what the paint companies are proposing) and shades of red creeping into the mix.

Take a look at a few of the choices we designers have made: (from Veranda)


“From jewel tones, like ruby and sapphire, to earthy shades, like cypress and saffron, designers and homeowners won’t shy away from interiors lavishly swathed in color.” – Marie Flanigan

‘I truly believe 2021 will be all about refreshing and reinvigorating color. Look for everything from jewel tone colors to clear and vivid palettes to create a visually stimulating home!” –Allison Caccoma

Design by Allesandra Branca | Photo by Thomas Loof


Design by Luis Bustamante | Photo by Max Kim-Bee


“We have been gravitating towards a lot of yellows lately. We are loving soft yellows used as a neutral or as an accent to pretty blues, and ochre and mustard block prints paired with earthy tones.” –Lauren Lowe

“I’m forecasting that neutrals in taupe and warm whites are making a comeback as the color trend for 2021! For a richer palette, I see shades of jewel toned plums and soft sultry purples accenting the walls for a pop of color!” – Kesha Franklin

Design by Lauren Lowe | Photo by Brian Woodcock


Design by Jean Louis Denoit | Photo by Christoph Theurer


“[We’re predicting] happy colors to brighten up the doldrums left by 2020. Drab and somber will fall by the wayside. More clear colors and brighter neutrals will emerge in a big way.” –Jeffry Weisman

“After all of the craziness that we have experienced in 2020, I believe people gravitate towards warm, rich colors that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and safety. Think rich chocolate brown, moss green, and deep blues.” –Paloma Contreras

Design by Jan Showers | Photo by Stephen Karlisch


Design by Andrew Howard | Photo by Helen Norman


So what do you think? Are you in need of calm, soothing tones or bright, cheerful colors? I plan to revisit these Colors of the Year at the end of 2021 to see which ones made the cut and which ones got cut out.

If you’re ready to make some color choices in your home and can’t decide which way to go, give us a call at 314.395.1114 or CLICK HERE to send us an email. Color is one of our specialties at Marcia Moore Design.

By the way, we’re back running full speed at Marcia Moore Design, but if you still prefer to work virtually, we understand and can do that, too. Whatever works best for you and makes you the most comfortable is great with us.

Stay safe and healthy,

Here are a few more posts about color you might enjoy!