Decorating Trends for 2021: How To Incorporate Pantone’s Colour(s) of the Year

For the last 20 years, the Pantone Color Institute™ has captured the moment in time in a colour swatch and crowned it “Colour of the Year”. Influenced by all areas of design, socio-economic conditions, and even technology, the Colour of the Year takes stock of the mood of the world and distils it into one (or sometimes two) shades. From fashion to home decor to graphic design, Pantone’s choice sets the trends that will define the year to come.

In 2020, that colour was Classic Blue for “instilling calm, confidence, and connection… highlight[ing] our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era” (Pantone).

For 2021, Pantone’s trend forecasters have identified two colours: Ultimate Gray and a bold and bright yellow called “Illuminating”.

Why these colours? According to Pantone’s colour experts:

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating, two independent colors that highlight how different elements come together to support one another, best express the mood for Pantone Color of the Year 2021. Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is one of strength and positivity. It is a story of color that encapsulates deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the promise of something sunny and friendly. - Pantone

Let’s take a closer look at how these shades can be incorporated into your decor:

How to use the Pantone Colours of the Year in your home

Grey and yellow are classic and versatile tones that can easily be incorporated into your current decor or used as inspiration for an entirely new design.

Whether you’re tired of looking at your home and are planning a major redesign or you are looking for a subtle shift in your colour scheme, these shades work well as focal colours and as accents. Naturally, these two tones pair very well together—think of sunbeams shining through the clouds on a grey day, or a field of golden wheat against a November grey sky—so they can be incorporated into your home together or separately as you see fit.

Ultimate Gray

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Get the Look: Grey Skies Wall Mural | Elliot Dining Chair in Wooden Brown

Grey is the ideal neutral. It can be soft or bold depending on the hue and shade you select, and it matches with nearly every other colour. Pantone’s Ultimate Gray falls around the middle of the light and dark scale, giving you lots of room to play with this perfect shade.

Accent tables

Ideal for holding all manner of objects, a grey side- or coffee table will add a neutral backdrop to your drinks, books, tchotchkes, photographs, and other pieces of art:

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Take a rest or cozy up on these soothing grey tones:

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Put your feet up on a shade that conveniently disguises dirt:

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Add some light in with the grey with these fixtures:

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Wall murals, artwork, throws, and sheets are a simple way to incorporate grey without adding too much:

DESIGN TIP: Wall art like our Maple Garden piece is a great way to incorporate both 2021 Pantone shades into a single piece. 

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And don’t forget to add some Ultimate Gray under foot as well:

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Illuminating (Yellow)

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Get the Look: Sunflower Wall Mural | Sliver Dining Chair

Some people think yellow is harder to work with, so it’s not always a popular colour for decorating. It’s a colour many people shy away from because of its intensity, but it can bring some much-needed joyfulness and light to your home in 2021. Illuminating is an especially bright and joyful hue, so if you’re colour averse or yellow isn’t your top pick but you still want it in the mix, add it in with smaller, carefully selected pieces:


Mix and match your seating options to incorporate some sunny yellow:

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Throw pillows and poufs

Sneak in the sunshine shade with seating-adjacent accessories, such as a pillow or pouf:

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Wall art

Incorporate Illuminating into the room with an artwork prominently featuring yellow or, if you’re feeling a bit more bold, one yellow accent wall. You can skip the paint and use a wall mural to accomplish this—wall murals are easier than wallpaper to remove if you have a change of heart later on.

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Throws & Rugs

If you want to add a pop of colour or experiment with this bright shade, throw blankets and rugs are a great way to incorporate Illuminating without letting it take over the room.

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Last year’s colour: Classic Blue

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Get the Look: Hudson Street Pendant in Stardust | Soli Black Leather Stool

As one would expect from a Pantone pick, Classic Blue naturally pairs well with Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. Whether you’ve already included Classic Blue in your home or you want to add it in for 2021—after all, it is classic—you can incorporate a few of these pieces with or without the 2021 colours.


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Wall art & accoutrements

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Colour your way

Your home may feel a little more stagnant than usual after all the time spent in it this past year. Much like tigers in a zoo, we can all benefit from some enrichment in our enclosures. Small (or large) pieces featuring an updated Pantone-approved palette can help freshen up a stale space and make your home feel new all over again.

Ultimate Gray and Illuminating not your cup of tea? Shop our full range of products in multiple colourways.

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Don't miss our New Year, New Look sale! Use code NEWYEAR15 for 15% off storewide until January 25, 2021.

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