How to Decorate with Pantone's Colors of the Year for 2021

The beginning of a new year calls for a fresh start‚ÄĒand that includes a new color scheme to set the tone. Every year, the Pantone Color Institute reveals its Color of the Year, a shade that soon pops up everywhere‚ÄĒin fashion, beauty, product packaging and, of course, in home decor. For 2021, Pantone‚Äôs Color of the Year announcement has given us not one, but two, colors to play with, so we have even more exciting ways to incorporate fresh new hues into our homes.¬†

Pantone Colors of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

This combination gives us a neutral, soft gray and a vibrant yellow with just the right note of sunny brightness. With their warm tones, they work beautifully together or as part of a broader palette that may include another neutral (white or black, for instance) or a different color (such as a teal blue).  


There‚Äôs a reason Patone picked these two colors for 2021, and it references color psychology. This school of thought states that every color invokes a particular mood or emotion. According to the Pantone press release for the Color of the Year announcement, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating pair ‚Äúdeeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day.‚ÄĚ


‚ÄúThe selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it‚Äôs not about one color or one person, it‚Äôs about more than one. The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude,‚ÄĚ said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. ‚ÄúPractical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope. We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; this is essential to the human spirit.‚ÄĚ

Ready to incorporate this eye-catching (and optimistic) color duo into your design? Here are some suggestions to help you begin.

How to Incorporate These Colors into Your Home

Start Small

If you want to take Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021 on a test run, start with one or two accessories. A decorative pillow, accent rug or towel set is an affordable way to see how a color works in your home. Plus, it can easily be switched out if needed. Like the colors? Then take the plunge and think bigger.

Make a Statement

Use the Ultimate Gray as a grounding neutral on your walls that supports Illuminating as a high-voltage focal point. Draw the eye to your picture windows with dramatic floor-length yellow drapery panels, or paint a cheery golden front door to contrast with the gray exterior of your home. You can also use the gray and yellow in tandem in a bold, large-scale artwork that takes center stage in your living room or dining room. 

Dream Up An Elegant Bedroom

The Ultimate Gray is sophisticated as well as soothing‚ÄĒa perfect choice for your bedroom color scheme. Use this neutral color on your walls or an upholstered headboard, and add yellow (or a mix of yellow and gray) in throw pillows, curtains or a quilted coverlet. This color combination is the perfect foil for crisp, white bedding that‚Äôs the ultimate in refined luxury.

Make the Colors Pop

Be strategic in color placement, particularly if you are concerned that a bright yellow might overpower your indoor spaces. An easy way to keep a harmonious balance and make the Colors of the Year from Pantone shine: Create a neutral palette around your gray, then add in thoughtful pops of yellow‚ÄĒa velvety soft throw blanket on a dove gray couch, for instance, or a vivid bouquet of chrysanthemums or daffodils in a sculptural vase.¬†You should also consider what type of paint finish is best for each room to help with those higher-end touches and really making the room standout.

Cook Up a New Kitchen Design

Yellow is a popular kitchen color for its warmth and vibrance. Try using a shade like Illuminating in your textiles or fabrics in this room, with Ultimate Gray or similar cabinets and walls. Or make yellow your wall color with white cabinets and soft gray accents. Experiment with the combination to make it work best for your space. For instance, a light gray may make a smaller kitchen appear larger, while yellow can brighten up nooks and crannies that don’t get much natural light.

Take It Outside

Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021 work just as well in your outdoor spaces as they do indoors. Sunshine only enhances their warm undertones, creating an inviting ambiance. Use yellow seat cushions on a gray patio furniture set, or try gray-and-yellow patterned or striped cushions on teak or glossy black wrought-iron furniture. A large yellow patio umbrella mimics the glow of the sun. 


We could all use a dose of positivity and optimism moving further into 2021. Decorating your home with appealingly serene colors such as Ultimate Gray and Illuminating creates an environment that exudes tranquility, a haven for you and your loved ones. If you’re ready to rejuvenate your home decor, shop Elegant Strand today.