Published on December 9, 2020

Today, Pantone, the global color authority that standardizes swatches for the design industry, announced its 2021 color of the year—make that colors of the year. Ultimate Gray (described as solid and dependable) and Illuminating (a cheerful yellow) are the winning hues that the company says reflect what people are looking for after this roller coaster of a year. “This is a combination that gives us resilience and hope,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “We need to feel encouraged and uplifted; that is essential to the human spirit.” 

This is only the second time two colors have been chosen by Pantone, and the very first time an achromatic shade (gray) has been selected. But to be honest, we didn’t expect anything but a radical choice coming out of 2020. Neither of these two options are particularly easy to decorate with (gray has a reputation for being boring, and lemon yellow can read as kitschy if you’re not careful). So we went to designers and Domino’s very own style director, Benjamin Reynaert, and asked them how they would decorate with this year’s picks

Pick Your Star Piece

To keep gray feeling fresh, don’t overuse it in a room. If you have gray upholstery, don’t put down a gray rug (it can quickly feel dull and flat). Simply use it as a canvas to experiment with marigold, green, blue, and rust hues. —Colin King 

Make Old Furniture New Again

Illuminating feels very vintage Parisian. I’d dig up modernist chairs at the Saint Ouen flea market (as soon as I can travel again) and splash this all over the upholstery. Ultimate Gray is centering and would work great in transitional spaces, like on entryway walls. It’s a tonal reminder to breathe and collect yourself. —Mat Sanders

Go Big in a Small Space

I would love to do gray walls and a yellow door in an entry. I also think a yellow laundry room with gray shelves would be fun. Small spaces would be conducive to a playful combination like this. —Anita Yokota 

Drench Every Surface in It

I find this combination to be a throwback to baby nursery palettes in the early 2000s. I like the idea of drenching walls, moldings, and even ceilings in one of these colors. The gray would look really beautiful in a small galley kitchen (it reminds me of one of my favorite grays, Plummet by Farrow & Ball). I’d do a bright yellow mohair velvet on a modern sofa form, like a sumptuous option from Pierre Frey on a low Milo Baughman couch. That sounds like a dream to me. —Benjamin Reynaert

Bring the Drama with Texture

“My mind immediately goes to Hitchcock films. This combination visually puts you on your back heel. So, make it a moment in your space. For gray, texture is key—bring in rich velvets, nubby tweeds, or soft cashmere.” — Claire Thomas

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