Beginning in 2000, the Pantone Color Institute – the authority on color standards – announced a new Color of the Year. Each year, a single color named by Pantone, provides design inspiration for both interior décor and exterior home colors, as well as setting new fashion trends. 

Perhaps you updated your kitchen cabinets to reflect 2005’s Color of the Year: Blue Turquoise. Or maybe you purchased an emerald green sofa in 2013, or hung jewel-toned draperies when Emerald was the Color of the Year. 

Looking back throughout the decades, it’s easy to see how the color trends from the lavish Victorian Era to the mid-century modern 1950s; the “pastel effect” of the 1980s; and the muted, natural palettes of the 2000s have influenced our homes. 

This year, for the first time, Pantone is offering up not one, but two Colors of the Year: Illuminating and Ultimate Gray. Illuminating is a bright, cheerful yellow that pairs easily with the warm, neutral Ultimate Gray. After a tumultuous 2020, achieving an “optimistic balance” in your home – and life – just feels like the right thing to do. 

Here are some ways you can incorporate this uplifting color palette into your existing décor. 

Accessorize with a new color

One of the easiest ways to try out a new color without committing to a permanent change is by incorporating accessories. We’re willing to bet you already have a predominantly gray room in your home, so why not add a pop of the sunny gold color with a new comforter, pillows, and lamps? This bedroom has an inviting, timeless appeal that can be easily updated to include future color trends.

Accent with elegance

Another way to incorporate the bold yellow into a warm gray room is with an accent wall, or in this case the ceiling. This is a room where the sun always shines, day or night. The warm gray keeps it grounded and cozy, and the perfectly matched curtains carry the sunny feeling to the windows. Accent pillows and rug elegantly tie the look together.

Brighten up your farmhouse kitchen

If the idea of Illuminating your kitchen feels right to you, we say go for it. This bright, beautiful kitchen is proof that you can have farmhouse style and your favorite color in the same place. From the crown moulding to the window trim and cabinets, you can light up the room, while gray countertops, backsplash, and neutral flooring keep it warm and casual.

Bring bold colors into the bathroom

One of the most wonderful things about these two Colors of the Year is that they work so well together in any room of the house. This playful kids bathroom offers an energizing start to the day. It’s the perfect balance of Illuminating and Ultimate Gray with black and white accents that make it appear spacious and organized.

Finetune the furniture

If 2021 finds you furnishing a new space or updating an old room, why not finetune the gold-gray balance with furniture? This 60s style sitting room is the perfect blend of this year’s color duo complete with bright, velvety couches. Neutral flooring, a natural, textured ceiling, and muted gray walls give this room an easy, laid-back feeling that’s also eclectic. A perfect space for lounging or for stimulating conversations with friends.