Pantone colors of the year- Ultimate Gray and Illuminating.

Pantone’s Colors Of The Year 2021

Lena Linetti5-Minute Read
January 22, 2021

Life's no fun without a splash of color. Color trends like the psychedelic palette of the ’60s and the bright neon shades of the ’80s have marked their places across history. Since the early 2000s, forecasting the color of the year has been a popular competition among paint and fashion companies, especially Pantone. Once the "it" color has been selected, you'll find it spread well, everywhere ... across clothing lines, makeup collections, home decor and even technology, influencing our daily shopping choices.

The Pantone Color Of The Year

Pantone means all colors. What is a Pantone color? It is a standard color code for a particular shade that helps you identify different colors using numbers. Annually, the Pantone Color Institute and the Pantone Color System announces the color of the year during the first days of December. Often, this is an exciting time for people who work with colors.

For 2021, the Colors of the Year are Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. These colors have been inspired by the challenges faced globally in 2020 due to the pandemic such as economic distress, disease and social upheaval. These colors were selected because of their dependability and warmth respectively. The Pantone color is important for a number of reasons: it affects marketing, influences interior design, strengthens brand identity and leads to the development of unique graphic designs.

What Does ‘Color Of The Year’ Mean?

For nearly 20 years, the Pantone Color Institute's "Color of the Year" has been the go-to guide for color marketing experts. Each year, a color is chosen as a trendsetter of the times. Hopeful companies flock to integrate the new "it" color into their products with the chance of making more sales. Meanwhile, these products make their way into the spotlight via celebrities and social media, and into our homes through shoe collections, car models, and even lipstick shades. Needless to say, the allure of forecasting such a color trend comes with its own reward.

How Is The Color Of The Year Determined?

The Pantone Color Institute determines the color of the year through painstaking debates over swatches that best capture the cultural spirit, or zeitgeist, of the times. This covert selection process typically involves a private rendezvous of color marketing experts with a dramatic reveal near the close of the year, many times in December. Other companies, such as the Color Marketing Group, approach the decision through a series of meetings that lead to selecting four main pigments for specific world regions, including North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific. CMG deliberations are often lengthy and involve numerous meticulously crafted presentations and complex analyses by top gurus, and the selection process is filled with conversations about trends in the entertainment industry, politics, technology, fashion, and even social issues.

Past Colors Of The Year

Since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute has compiled a list of 20 stellar hues ranging from Cerulean to Ultra Violet. Over the last decade, this list included:

  • 2010 - Turquoise
  • 2011 - Honeysuckle
  • 2012 - Tangerine Tango
  • 2013 - Emerald
  • 2014 - Radiant Orchid
  • 2015 - Marsala
  • 2016 - Rose Quartz & Serenity
  • 2017 - Greenery
  • 2018 - Ultra Violet
  • 2019 - Living Coral
  • 2020 – Classic Blue
  • 2021 - Ultimate Gray and Illuminating

In 2010, Pantone's talk of tropical skies and an inviting paradise beckoned us with "Turquoise" followed by "Honeysuckle," a confidence-boosting pink hue in 2011. Then in 2012, the seductive and passionate "Tangerine Tango" found its way onto the world stage pursued closely by a lively "Emerald Green," giving us growth and harmony in 2013.

"Radiant Orchid," a fuchsia and purple hybrid, was all the rage on the red carpet in 2014, while the earthiness of wine-inspired "Marsala" swept the country in 2015. One notable year was 2016, which was the first time that two different shades were chosen, "Serenity" and "Rose Quartz." Then in 2017, came "Greenery," which rang of everyone's desire for renewal and revitalization. Next came "Ultra Violet," which was cited as being selected for inventiveness in 2018.

In 2019, the color of the year was "Living Coral," a bright and playful pigment encouraging connection and intimacy. With so many hues, you can only imagine the intense debates these color experts have when selecting the best shade of the year! Pantone's Color of the Year 2020 "Classic Blue" was easy on the eyes and quick to integrate into your home decor with simple tweaks like accent shades, patterned artwork and classic dinnerware.

Other Paint Companies’ Choices For Color Of The Year 2021

Different paint companies choose different colors every other year. Apart from Palette, there are other companies such as Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams and Behr that declare their own colors.

Benjamin Moore’s 2021 color of the year is Aegean Teal, a beautiful dark blue. It might look dull in the beginning; however, the color quickly grows on you. It is a blending of blue-green and gray and gives a sense of natural harmony.

Urbane Bronze, another exquisite color that represents nature in a simple way and a reminder of stones, metal, and wood, is the Sherwin-Williams color of the year.

While these companies had distinguished just one color, there is Behr who has a variety of 21 pastel colors. They are a combination of mesmerizing shades that are soft, elegant and nostalgic and evoke feelings of tranquility.

How To Incorporate The Color Of The Year Into Your Home

The Pantone color also reigns in the interior design industry. You can get remodeling contractors to incorporate the Pantone Color of the Year in your home project to make your house look trendy.

While you’re at it, you can let it guide you in the color of the furniture that you choose. For example, you can pick out small pieces in Ultimate Gray such as bar stools to create a beautiful illusion in the interior of your home.

You could also go for a large Ultimate Gray couch to give your home some warmth. Also, you can paint accent walls the Pantone color to make a room pop. Your walls, bathrooms and kitchen can also get away with the Pantone color so long as you contrast it with another color scheme.

Once you put up these colors, your home interior will ooze with design and sophistication. If you had been remodeling a home so that you resell it, you just might get a huge profit margin because of the colorful interiors.


Colors have inspired us throughout each generation with art, entertainment and fashion. After nearly two decades of choosing the color of the year, it just goes to show that the Pantone Color Institute knows what it’s doing, and now that you know, you'll be able to nab this year's trendiest home decor color ideas before everyone else.

Thankfully, Pantone's Colors of the Year 2021, Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, are easy on the eyes and quick to integrate into your home decor with simple tweaks like accent shades, patterned artwork and classic dinnerware. Pantene colors will make your graphic designs pop. And if you’re skeptical about what Pantone colors can do for you, try using them today to see the difference they make.

Apply For A Mortgage Online

Lena Linetti

The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.