Color of the Year! [2021]

It’s that time once again for Color Mania as paint companies from across the land announce their top choice – or choices (or lots of choices) – for their predictions on top trending colors and palates.  Some amazing, some tragic, all sure to spark discussion and color commentary (you’re welcome) among designers for the year to come.

Let’s start with the company that literally defines color: Pantone.

Pantone 2021 Colors of the Year:

17-5104 Ultimate Gray + 13-0647 Illuminating

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.

The kings of color made a bold, decisive, unapologetic choice this year that makes up for some of their choices of recent past (I’m lookin’ at you, Living Coral, Ultra Violet, and Greenery.)  Light to medium grays have been a safe go-to for years now, especially as a replacement for the neutral beiges that haunt buyers of new homes.  Grays will always have their place as a blank canvass in any room, but I couldn’t recommend Illuminating as anything more than a partial accent wall, accessory, pillow, or tapestry color in an otherwise tastefully monochromatic space, where it will be the star of the scene!

Verdict: Not the Worst.

Read more about Pantone’s CotY here: Pantone Color of the Year 2021

Sherwin-Williams 2021 Color of the Year: Urbane Bronze SW 7048

Tap into nature with a hue whose warmth and comfort breathe down-to-earth tranquility. Our 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze, captures that simple sophistication every space is searching for.

Find Your Sanctuary

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.

Rooted in Nature

The trend for biophilia continues to shape our spaces, proving that nature is never far away. Urbane Bronze might be a color rooted in nature, but it also 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. It also works well with other biophilic elements including, light-filled spaces and foliage.

Nevermind the color, that’s some tasty copy!

I haven’t enjoyed a CotY this much since Pittsburgh Paint’s 2018 CotY, Blackhearth.  Unlimited potential on walls both smooth and paneled, I just found the cure for my entryway and sitting room.  Placed across from, or perpendicular to a window, the depth and tone will continue to change throughout the day.

Urbane Bronze seems to have had a rough reception on Instagram, presumably from people who put ice cubes in their wine, and Rudolph noses and antlers on their cars.

Verdict: Winner!

Learn more about Sherwin-Williams’ CotY here: S-W 2021 Color of the Year, Urbane Bronze, SW 7048 

Benjamin Moore 2021 Color of the Year:  Aegean Teal 2136-40

A blend of blue-green and gray, Aegean Teal 2136-40 is an intriguing midtone that creates natural harmony.   

Benjamin Moore, North America’s favorite paint, color and coatings brand, has just revealed its Color of the Year 2021 as Aegean Teal 2136-40 – an intriguing blue-green that creates natural harmony and invites us to reflect and reset. Rooted in the elegant, handspun textures of the home, the Color Trends 2021 palette comforts as it uplifts.

In an intimate look at the home, Color Trends 2021 begins in the kitchen, exploring how this intersection of craft, nourishment and community breathes color and design inspiration into the rest of the living space. The Color Trends 2021 palette and the Color of the Year reflect this grounded sensibility with warm, sunbaked hues that play to the senses.

“Amid uncertainty, people yearn for stability. The colors we surround ourselves with can have a powerful impact on our emotions and wellbeing,” said Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore Director of Color Marketing & Development. “Aegean Teal 2136-40 and the corresponding Color Trends 2021 palette express a welcoming, lived-in quality that celebrates the connections and real moments that take place within the home.”

Will it really go with everything? Color me skeptical. But as shown in their marketing images, it makes an amazing color choice for accent furniture, cabinetry, or interior doors. Paired with dark grays, blacks, or brass/bronze hardware, I think it can be a winner.

Verdict: Not Bad!

Benjamin Moore also released a 2021 Color Trends Palate:

Learn more about Benjamin Moore’s CotY and palate trends here:  BM Color Trends & Color of the Year 2021 

Pittsburgh Paints 2021 Color Palate of the Year:

Oh, PPG, paint and plate glass manufacturer of my childhood home, why have your forsaken us?  Remember that one time, back in 2018, when you had the hottest color of all time, Blackhearth? Was it black with blue highlights? Red highlights? Is that a bronze undertone? It was so dynamic that it ruined me for all other shades of black, which I think we can universally agree is the best.

2020’s Chinese Porcelain was a most excellent blue!  2019’s Night Watch was a bit too hunter green for my taste, but still lovely, with a cool name to boot!  I think we’ve covered 2018, but just in case you forgot: Blackhearth! You guys did that!

This color palate makes me feel like someone commissioned three shades of House-Flipper-Beige, but wanted one to look sort of reddish, and one sort of blueish.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about your 2021 color trends:

I don’t think you can mix a bunch of secondary colors in with twelve different tones of beige and call it a palate. Well technically yes, it is.  But you’re better than that.  C’mon – get back on the ball.  Who are you, Valspar?

On the positive side, PPG Paints are supposedly exclusive to Menards now, so if you’re unhappy with any paint purchase – for any reason or none at all – you can return the unused (or nearly empty) can for a full refund; a dirty, lousy, cheap, water-damage-hiding, code-violating, non-permit-having, house-flipper’s dream!

Verdict: Wait, It Gets Worse!

Learn more about Pittsburgh Paints CotY here:  2021 Paint Color Palette Of The Year

Valspar 2021 Colors of the Year:

More indecision as we race to the bottom of the cost and quality scale. Twelve more colors that looks like someone with cataracts plagiarized PPG’s colors, then got called out, then muted them even further and added purple.

Verdict: Who Cares?

Want to learn more about Valspar 2021 Colors of the Year?  Speak with your optometrist today!

Behr 2021 Colors, and Colors, and Colors of the Year

At a whopping TWENTY ONE “colors of the year,” no one gets left out.

That it is so very apropos to the evolving social climate of the United States is something I can totally get behind.

That it is so very lazy and indecisive is something I cannot get behind.

Make a damned choice, or fire whomever is responsible for this waste of effort.

Verdict: Disqualified!

Dutchboy 2021 Color of the Year:  Earth’s Harmony 237-5DB

KUDOS to Dutchboy for having the stones to select one single color that they’re proud to stand behind for their 2021 CotY!

SHAME on Dutchboy for having the stones to select a color so outright offensive that they’re proud to stand behind for their 2021 CotY!

I’m neither showing the color, nor linking to it. I don’t want any search engine association with it for fear of being mistaken for a designer of trendy airport travel hotel rooms or daycare facilities.

Look it up yourself, if you dare.

Verdict: Seriously?!


That about wraps it up for this year’s Color of the Year review.  While no one manufacturer will ever select a universally pleasing color, I think there are some trends that are universally appealing: deep, natural, Earth tones; darker, richer grays; accent colors that refuse to be ignored. Even if a color might not particularly appeal to me, I do appreciate that a color creator puts some thought and meaning behind their selection.

I think more musings and philosophy of color are due in short order. It’s a new year, more optimistic in every sense. And what better road to mental recovery than embracing color selections as the great tool that they can be?

Unless you’re Dutchboy, in which case go lay in a ditch.

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