Pantone’s Color of the Year 2021 is actually two colors this year (2020 was super weird, so why not throw everyone a curve to start off 2021, right?! 🙄😂). Pantone put forth the colors Ultimate Gray (PMS 17-5104) and Illuminating (PMS 13-0647). The marketing copy surrounding the release says that these two colors were chosen as “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting”.

Pantone's Color Of The Year 2021 - Exterior Color Inspiration
Yellow + Gray Exterior Color Inspiration from the Behr Blog.

Cool concept – and quite nice for an exterior – but… practically applied to an interior, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating leave us feeling rather “meh”. Grey is grey. So we can work with it. But yellow? Oof. Admittedly, yellow is our least favorite interior hue. Sure, it’s nice in pops or splashes (if managed properly). But, on the whole, we try to avoid it. Why? Well, it’s just really tricky! Too saturated and it glares, de-saturated and it looks like jaundiced skin. A touch too much red and you’ve got an orange that washes out everything around it. A touch too much green and everyone in the room looks like they’re going to be sick. Also, coordinating different shades of yellow across a variety of finishes – rugs, pillows, draperies, smooth walls, decor elements – can be a real challenge.

This exercise was definitely a lot easier last year (check out our article on Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020), but we are determined to make it work this year. So, here goes nothing…

Pantone's Color Of The Year 2021 - Cheery Yellow Breakfast Nook
A Susan Herring interior for Decor Direct published by Home Bunch

This costal cottage, designed by Susan Herring at Decor Direct (formerly Echelon Interiors) and published by Home Bunch, makes excellent use of Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2021. Splashing the Lemony Yellow throughout the space in draperies, floor coverings, pillows and table-top accents allows the color to liven up the space, without over powering it. The careful juxtaposition of warm (yellow) and cool (turquoise) do this designer a great deal of credit.

Per the article on Home Bunch, the dining table and side chairs are by Bassett Furniture, the captain’s chairs are by Four Seasons Furniture and the rug is by Surya, the turquoise wall color is Swimming by Sherwin Williams, and the chandelier is the Atelier 9 Light 34 inch Gloss White Chandelier by Craftmade (36929-GW). It appears to be out of stock at the moment, but the Englewood mini chandelier may work as a substitute.

Pantone's Color Of The Year 2021 - Bold Yellow Lower Cabinet
A Rita Konig kitchen shot by James Merrell for House Beautiful

This kitchen, designed by Rita Konig and shot by James Merrell for House Beautiful, does a great job of incorporating a vibrant – dare I say “illuminating” – yellow. The trick here, in my opinion, is to make sure of two things: first, that the yellow is just the right value and second, that it isn’t the loudest thing in the room. A bold print, confidently hung art and a collection of bold ceramics provide visual weight elsewhere so as to balance out the space.

For those of you who’ll want to know, I believe this color was a custom mix. However, per the House Beautiful article, a very similar Ben Moore color would be Yellow Flash.

A Musso Design Group space published on the Decoist.

Hats off to the designers! This tasteful Gray and Yellow sleeping space credited to the Musso Design Group and published on the Decoist, makes excellent use of Pantones Color of the Year 2021 – both of them! In this case, the yellow is less saturated that Pantone’s Illuminating – which is appropriate for a space intended for rest.

Yellow appears in the lower third of the drapery, on the shams, as a trim on the accent pillows and as cording on the bench cushion. One of the reasons this space feels so well coordinated is that the designer used the exact same fabric – and therefore the exact same color yellow – in all applications. This eliminates the risk of using clashing yellows.

While we maintain that yellow is still super tricky, clearly it is possible to incorporate Pantone’s Color of the Year 2021 into an interior space. We are grateful for all of the hardworking visionaries who challenge our understanding and inspire us with their vision.

Do you use a color similar to illuminating or ultimate gray in your home? Email us a picture! Our team loves to get feed back from our followers, friends and family!