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What Interior Designers Think of the 2021 Colors of the Year

As we near the end of each year, certain companies forecast what colors will be most popular in the design world in the coming year. And we’re not just talking about interior design. These colors of the year speak to trends in fashion, art, graphic design, the entertainment industry and even take into consideration environmental influences around the world and the cultural moment we find ourselves in. Experts land on these colors after months of research, travel, and trend analysis.

The Pantone Color Institute was one of the first companies to create an annual color of the year—and they just dropped the Pantone 2021 Color of the Year. Or should we say Colors of the Year? That’s right—for the second time, they’ve picked two colors of the year rather than the typical one. (They did this in 2016 as well.) Their picks? Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

Two other big players in establishing a Color of the Year are the paint companies Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore. Both companies have not only selected a Color of the Year for the past several years, but they create palettes of other colors that work well with their main color choice.

Want to see these 2021 Colors of the Year in action? Below, we’re digging into the Pantone, Sherwin-Williams, and Benjamin Moore colors of the year—exploring what they are, the significance behind them, and featuring some of our designers’ takes on how to incorporate these colors into your home! Keep reading for more on how to choose a color palette with these trendy shades.

color of the year

Pantone 2021 Color of the Year

As we mentioned, Pantone selected two different colors for their 2021 Color of the Year: Illuminating and Ultimate Gray.

Why Pantone Picked These Colors

According to Pantone, these “two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to support one another . . . Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, the union of Ultimate Gray and 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.”

While complementary, these shades are quite different. Ultimate Gray is “emblematic of solid and dependable elements,” according to Pantone—like pebbles on a beach, rock formations, and other natural elements that can stand the test of time. This color “quietly assures, encouraging feelings of composure, steadiness, and resilience.” Meanwhile, Illuminating is a bright shade of yellow. This cheerful hue has a sense of vivacity, warmth, and power.

What These Colors Mean for 2021

The folks at Pantone were feeling optimistic when they chose these two colors. While they knew we needed a sense of dependability after the tumultuousness of 2020, they also felt like we needed a sign of hope. That’s what they hope these colors will represent in 2021. Fortitude and happiness. Dependability and hopefulness. Strength and joy.

How Modsy Designers are Using Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

Check out two of our designers’ takes on both of these two colors below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: Sophisticated & Cheerful

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “Yellow can be seen as a youthful color, but I wanted to make it feel a bit more sophisticated.”

How Katherin Used Illuminating: “This shade of yellow is very bright, cheerful, and energizing. But, because of its boldness, it can easily take over a room. So, I wanted to balance it with navy blue, a more subdued and grounding hue. (Though, you could also pair it with black or brown, which would also offer that grounding element.) I went for more classic furnishings while keeping the overall space colorful and cheerful. Since the yellow is so bold, I kept the patterning very simple because I didn’t want anything clashing for attention in this space.”

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entryway with yellow and grey walls

Look #2: Bold & Moody

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: “I wanted to capture the energy of this color throughout this space, while only using the color itself in a small area of the room.”

How Karina Used Illuminating: While I wouldn’t recommend using Illuminating as a color for a full wall (it would be far too intense), I did have fun placing it in an unexpected accent area—the interior of the archway. Painting an archway is a fun way to bring in a bright and bold color that you may not want to commit to on a whole wall. The overall vibe of this space is fun and moody, with the bold patterns and pop of yellow bringing energy and color throughout.”

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Check out some of our other favorite yellow room designs for more ways to use this color!

pantone 2021 color of the year

The Look: Calming & Understated

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “I wanted to play the Ultimate Gray up with lots of rich neutrals, like leather, deep brown wood, stark blacks and whites, and even some tans—embracing a neutral color palette, but creating a space with a ton of depth.”

How Katherin Used Ultimate Gray: “This space is full of texture but has a simple color palette which makes it very calming. Gray is an understated color—so by adding depth to it with other neutrals and textures, it becomes more of an integral part of the design instead of just another color on the wall. Ultimate Gray is a soft hue, making it a perfect choice for a neutral paint color. While I went with an overall neutral color palette, you could easily pair this with brighter and bolder hues. It has undertones of warmth, making it an excellent color choice for any style.”

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Hungry for more? Check out all the Pantone Colors of the Year from the past decade, plus our designers’ takes on Classic Blue, the Pantone 2020 color.

color of the year

2021 Benjamin Moore Paint Color of the Year

The 2021 Benjamin Moore Paint Color of the Year is Aegean Teal. More subdued than what might immediately come to mind when you think of teal, this color is almost a robin’s egg blue.

Why Benjamin Moore Picked this Color

The team at Benjamin Moore wanted a color for 2021 that celebrates life’s simple pleasures. In 2020, we’ve all learned to find joy in small and mundane moments, and this color is the embodiment of that spirit. A blend of blue-green and gray, Aegean Teal has an interesting tone that helps create a sense of harmony, together with the other colors in their 2021 Color Trend Palette. Together, “the twelve hues in the palette radiate warmth and wellbeing. These are colors that make your home feel even more like home,” according to Benjamin Moore.

What This Color Means for 2021

The idea behind Aegean Teal is one of comfort and presence. Balanced and deeply soothing, this shade is meant to nourish our spirits (something we could all use after this year) and bring a sense of brightness but familiarity into our homes.

How Modsy Designers are Using Aegean Teal

Check out two of our designers’ takes on this color below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: High-Contrast & Curated

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: I wanted to elevate this shade of light blue, which can easily be written off as a color just for a children’s bedroom or a bathroom. I wanted to prove it could hold its own in a curated living room.

How Karina Used Aegean Teal: “For me, this design was all about creating contrast. A warm mustard sofa helps to offset the dominant cool tones of the wall color. By layering this space with art, objects, and furniture, I created a curated take on the Minimalist Maximalist trend, but with a fresh and unexpected color palette.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #2: Youthful & Coastal

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “This color has a beachy and youthful vibe to it. I wanted to capture some fun and youthful energy of a teenage summer.”

How Katherine Used Aegean Teal: “This is an energizing color, so I wanted to play it up with other fun colors—like pink and other shades of teal. This made it feel even more youthful, but the blues and pinks also contrast and create a really pretty soft glow. I wanted to play up some fun and youthful elements that a teenager or adolescent might be drawn to—like the canopy-esque bed and the trendy campaign-style nightstand. Meanwhile, white and brass pop against the saturated color, making it even more vibrant.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

2021 Sherwin-Williams Paint Color of the Year

Urbane Bronze, the 2021 Sherwin Williams Paint Color of the Year, is a color that’s all about simple sophistication and a sense of tranquility.

Why Sherwin-Williams Picked this Color

Sherwin-Williams chose this nature-inspired hue for its energy and simplicity. As they noted on their website, “Now more than ever, our homes have become the backdrop to our lives, reminding us that the moments worth cherishing have always been right in front of us. As we’re looking to create the ultimate retreat for reflection and renewal, we’re turning to a hue whose natural simplicity and nature-inspired energy cultivate a sense of calm from the ground up.”

They also noted that, because of the way this color is rooted in nature (it has very muddy brown undertones) it goes well with foliage and other earth-toned hues. Sherwin-Williams feels Urbane Bronze “has a unique ability to ground a room through organic appeal. Whether it’s accentuating window trims or accent walls, this warm hue draws from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity.”

What This Color Means for 2021

Urbane Bronze—along with Sherwin-Williams’ other colors of their Sanctuary color palette, which is part of their Colormix® Color Forecast 2021—are intended to nurture wellness and calm. This can be done by pairing it with neutrals for a minimal and relaxing look. But, because of its undertones, you could also pair it with the bold room trend and pair it with saturated earth tones or jewel tones.

How Modsy Designers are Using Urbane Bronze

Check out two of our designers’ takes on this color below.

pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #1: Sleek & Industrial

Modsy Designer: Katherine B.

Katherine’s Inspiration: “I was inspired by industrial spaces, like train stations, lofts, and factories. I wanted to incorporate that with metal and natural materials like marble and stone—but do it in an unexpected way.”

How Katherin Used Urbane Bronze: “This color feels inherently moody and industrial, and it leans slightly masculine with its dark hues. Since Urbane Bronze is ultra saturated, I wanted to use furniture and decor that would contrast with and soften this color. The marble desk is quite sleek, with its brass legs and simple shape. The stone accents feel organic, and even the display cabinet has curvatures that soften the use of the material a bit. The white pops and the linen of the desk chair add a textural element too. The chair feels feminine and soft in nature which makes this space feel more approachable.”

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pantone 2021 color of the year

Look #2: Organic & Modern

Modsy Designer: Karina L.

Karina’s Inspiration: “I love that it has somewhat muddy undertones, which helps to craft an organic and nature-inspired space. I used the natural and organic nature of this color to inspire the shapes and decor of this space.”

How Karina Used Urbane Bronze: “I wanted to play with the warm undertones of this dark and moody color. This bedroom is the combination of light and dark—light airy furniture pieces combined with earthy and natural materials such as linen, jute, seagrass, and wood to help offset the dark wall color.”

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See how our designers designed with Naval, the Sherwin-Williams 2020 Color of the Year.

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Decorating a Green Room? Try These 5 Foolproof Color Schemes

We’re seeing more and more homes incorporate green into their color schemes, and for good reason. Green is a beautiful color to incorporate into your home’s decor, with so many nuanced shades to choose from. It’s easy to incorporate in big ways or small—from green walls or sofas to small accents and decor. And the shade of green you choose can really support the style of your space, or even set the tone.

Green is obviously a very nature-inspired color, but it comes to life in a whole spectrum of shades, from cool mint greens and seafoam greens to earthy olive green and sage green, and even more saturated tones like forest green or a jewel-toned emerald. And green pairs beautifully with other colors, from neutrals to deeply saturated hues.

How to Incorporate Green Into Your Space

When it comes to any room color scheme, there are different levels of intensity that you can try—from small accents in your decor to large furniture pieces, and even an all-over monochrome look! What you choose all depends on the level of saturation and intensity you want to incorporate into your space. Here are a few levels of how you can incorporate green into your space, in big ways and small.

Explore our full beginner’s guide to color palettes for more tips!

green room color schemes

Small: Green in Accents

If you want to incorporate green in small ways, sprinkle it in through your accents. This could be anything from art and small decor like vases to throw pillows and even an accent chair. And, of course, through plants! Plants are a great way to bring in green accents in a neutral or colorful space.

To do this well, think about “layering” your green evenly throughout the space so that it doesn’t feel like green is all in one space. So, instead of having just one pop of green through an accent chair, bring in green elsewhere in the room as well—through a few pillows on each side of the sofa, and perhaps by placing a plant in an empty corner distribute some green throughout the space!

mid-century style green sofa with leather poufs

Medium: Green in Base Furniture

To bring green into your space in a slightly more significant way, go green with your base furniture! In a living room, that means opting for a green sofa, in a bedroom it might be a green upholstered headboard. Going with a color in your base furniture is a great way to dictate the color scheme of that room. But it’s also a big commitment to that color, so make sure you really love it since it will be a significant piece that impacts your design style for a long time! But if you do decide to go with a color in your base furniture, green is a great option. It’s a calming color that you can dress up with more green or play it down with more neutral colors and natural textures.

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green room color schemes

Large: Green Everywhere

Want to do green in a big way? Go monochrome. Going big with green is a great way to make a statement in a room. But to give the look depth and keep things more interesting, layer different shades of green through the space. This living room above is a perfect example. The sofa is a different shade of green than the wall, but it’s in the same color family (think about grouping shades of warm greens or cool greens rather than mixing tones).

To get this look, paint green walls, then pick furniture pieces (like a sofa and accent chairs) that are a complementary shade of green. Then, layer in even more green with your wall art, pillows, and decor. However, to keep the space from being overwhelming, go more neutral with your rug, drapery, and other textiles.

Best Color Schemes for Green

Once you know how big or small you want to go with green, you can start deciding which other colors to incorporate in your space. When creating a green color scheme, you’ll want to start by identifying the undertones of the colors you’re interested in to make sure the tones complement each other. Picking up paint color swatches is a great way to figure out the right tones of each color you want to include! You can then use those colors to help flesh out your overall color palette. And if you need some help knowing which colors to combine with green, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite green color scheme ideas to inspire you!

green room color schemes

The Color Scheme: Green + Neutrals

Just about any shade of green goes beautifully with neutrals, whether that’s a crisp white or a cream or grey. Within this color scheme, it also goes perfectly with natural materials like jute! This color combo is primarily seen in living rooms and green bedroom designs, since those rooms allow for more color usage simply because of the furniture items in those rooms. (It’s more difficult to pull off this color scheme in a dining room since not many dining tables are green!) This is also one of the most versatile green color combinations.

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How to Get the Look

Layer pillows, vases, art, and small textiles with larger neutrals. In the image above, we paired green pillows with a neutral sofa, and the green accent chair pairs well with the textured jute rug. The chairs are the largest use of green in this space, but the tone of green makes it almost feel like an extension of the neutral color palette. (Whereas a deep, saturated forest green would feel like more of a statement.) Pops of green are also incorporated in various accents, like wall art, small decor, textiles, and even in the use of plants.

Balance the green with neutral base furniture and a neutral rug. It’s all about striking a balance. In the image above, we’re balancing the green in the two accent chairs so it feels like it’s being framed in the room, and then the neutrals come in to complement the green and hold everything together in the sofa, rug, and coffee table.

Why We Love It

Pairing green with neutrals is a perfect way to convey a color palette without the main color (in this case, green) feeling dominant or too loud. Green is a transcendent neutral, and it pairs really well with warm neutral textures such as jute, cane, or even linen.

green room color schemes

The Color Scheme: Green Monochrome

As we mentioned earlier, a monochrome green space is a way to design a green color scheme in a very big and bold way. We particularly like doing monochrome green in warmer shades, like olive, moss, and a creamy lime green. This color scheme works best in living rooms and bedrooms. It’s a louder and more dominant approach, and it can be more easily brought to life in a room with more textiles.

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How to Get the Look

You can incorporate green elements anywhere and everywhere in a monochrome green room—from the walls and sofa to accent furniture and decor! Look for different shades of green within the same overall tone, keeping it all in warm tones or cool tones. (If you mix warm and cool tones, the room might feel a bit disjointed.) This look works best when furniture types and finishes are also considered; keeping furniture cohesive will help with conveying the monochrome.

The balance comes from making sure your colors are all relatively within the same tone, then layering them accordingly within your furniture. You can also add balance by keeping textiles like rugs and drapery more neutral, or by incorporating natural materials. In this room materials such as stone, jute, and woods become the accent “colors.”

Why We Love It

Monochrome green is a lovely way to make a statement that feels calming but bold.

green room color schemes

The Color Scheme: Green + Terracotta

A green and terracotta color scheme is the perfect earth tones palette. A warm balance is created between earthy green tones and warm rusts, for a look that’s grounded and inviting. Materials are big in this style; woods, jutes, metals, and stone all help bring to life this earthy look.

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How to Get the Look

Start by picking which one color you’ll use as the base color. Here, we used terracotta as the base color, then green is used as an accent throughout the space. But, since we opted for a green sofa against the terracotta wall, green still feels like a significant player in this space. You could also take the opposite approach with a green wall and rust-colored sofa. Either way, make sure to incorporate both colors in the accent decor and other textiles, but also add a few neutral tones to balance out the look. However, aside from a few of those neutrals, keep other colors limited; you’ll lose the color scheme if you layer in too many other colors.

Why We Love It

This color scheme is warm and welcoming and goes with so many different interior design styles. We love that this combination is such a rich, saturated take on earth tones, which gives any room a lot of warmth.

green room color schemes

The Color Scheme: Green + Purple

Do you love bold colored rooms? Then you might want to try a green and purple color scheme. When you opt for jewel-toned shades of both green and purple, you get a look that’s bold and elegant, with a flair of the dramatic.

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How to Get the Look

Use a darker, saturated green as your base color, then use a plum or eggplant purple as a true accent in the space—incorporated through a large piece of furniture or some statement wall art. Using purple as an accent rather than perfectly balancing the two colors in a space will help you avoid the look of a certain purple and green dinosaur, and create more visual balance in the space. Essentially, you could take the basic approach of a monochrome green look, then add in a few pops of purple in either rugs or base furniture. This look can lean pretty glam—so you can play that up by incorporating metallics, as well as black and white, in the art and smaller decor.

Why We Love It

It’s a dramatic and regal color scheme, which we especially love in glam or classic spaces. These colors play really well off of classic materials like velvets, which help drive home the sense of opulence that this color palette naturally carries.

green room color schemes

The Color Scheme: Green + Pink

Green and pink creates a fun, youthful, bright, and happy scheme that still manages to feel elevated. You can bring this palette to life in most rooms, but we especially like it in living rooms, offices, and bedrooms.

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How to Get the Look

Get colorful with your furniture to really establish the color palette in your space! Sofas, beds, accent furniture, and even rugs are a great way to incorporate these colors. Think of these pieces as grounding objects to help create a bold and definitive color scheme. You can also layer in both pink and green in pillows and wall art. However, you’ll want to stick with neutrals in your smaller decor so that the space doesn’t feel overwhelming or disjointed.

Why We Love It

Pink and green is a refreshing and happy combination that brings in both warm and cool tones. It can be tough to achieve, but it’s best done with your rugs and base furniture play together to establish the color scheme.

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Greenhouse Garden Retreat

You can eat your greenery or you can sit on it. Both have equally curative powers according to Pantone, who named this particularly leafy shade its 2017 color of the year. A symbol of new beginnings, the zesty, yellow-green hue is all about reconnecting, refreshing, rejuvenating, restoring, and pretty much any other “re-word” you can think of.

pantone's greenery

But if this tangy green reminds you more of Kermit the Frog than a vegetable garden, you’re not alone. While not eagerly hoping on the greenery bandwagon ourselves, we tried embracing the color for its symbolic, rather than purely aesthetic value.

Amid our current tumultuous social and political climate, Pantone chose greenery as a means to encourage “green” ways of thinking and living. Pantone suggests that the shade can inspire us to reconnect with nature as we disconnect with technology and promote green ways of thinking in respect to such things as design, energy, and even diet for the coming year. Kale yeah!

pantone's greenery

pantone's greenery


At Modsy we know that our environments shape our experiences, so we are taking a stab at incorporating some greenery into our domain. So if you can’t swing a spur-of-the-moment vacation to Airbnb’s Outside In London loft, we invite you to relax and photosynthesize inside our greenhouse garden retreat.

pantone's greenery

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