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Pantone Color of the Year: A Yearly Retrospective

Pantone has scoured the universe in search of color influences when choosing the Color of the Year. Check out this year's Color of the Year and follow the rainbow back for the last 21 years.

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2021 pantone color of the yearvia Pantone Color Institute

2021: Illuminating and Ultimate Gray

For only the second time since the honors began in 2000, Pantone has chosen two colors for its Color of the Year.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, says the colors Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are “a combination that speaks to the resilience, the optimism and hope and positivity that we need, as we reset, renew, reimagine and reinvent.” Added Laurie Pressman, the Institute’s vice president: “The Pantone Color of the Year reflects what is taking place in our global culture, expressing what people are looking for that color can hope to answer.”

Plus, check out the best paint colors for reducing stress and anxiety.

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2020: Classic Blue

Eiseman notes that Classic Blue is “a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.” The color inspires creative confidence in interiors, transforming a space through unique color combinations and tonal statements. Classic Blue is also a great accent with white surfaces.

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2019: Living Coral

The 2019 Color of the Year, Living Coral, was vibrant and mellow. The playful color provided a welcome response to the onslaught of technology with its authentic and natural vibe that inspires connection. Living Coral is a natural welcome to spring, blooming beautifully in DIY flower and accent vases. Here is how Ikea celebrated Living Coral.

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2018: Ultra Violet

Ultra violet, a blue-based purple, takes our awareness and imagination to a new level,” noted Eiseman. The color celebrated non-conformity and creativity. Ultra violet is a great color to splash on walls of meditation spaces and art studios.

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2017: Greenery

What’s not to love about green wall paint? Symbolic of new beginnings, Greenery is a fresh yellow-green color reminiscent of the first day of spring. Pops of Greenery in our homes help bring the outdoors in. A great way to bring the fresh feeling of Greenery into your home is through live and faux plants.

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2016: Serenity and Rose Quartz

For the first time, Pantone blended two colors together — Rose Quartz and Serenity. Cooler tranquil blue and warmer rose tones reflect wellness and peace. The combination challenged traditional color associations reflecting a gender blur in fashion. Modern couples can find myriad ways to decorate nurseries using the combination.

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2015: Marsala

When you hear Marsala, you probably think of an earth, robust wine. The full-bodied Color of the Year made a strong statement on its own and provided a bold accent color for home decor.

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2014: Radiant Orchid

“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health,” Eiseman said. Radiant Orchid complements olive and hunter green and can be paired with turquoise, teal and even light yellows.

From light and airy, to dark and moody — we’ve got 10 tried-and-true interior wall paint colors that are guaranteed to make your room look great.

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2013: Emerald

Lush and lively Emerald is a bedazzled yet natural color in jewelry and has been popular in home decor. You can paint a room with this jewel tone to add a luxurious feel or spruce up your table with Emerald dinnerware.

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2012: Tangerine Tango

“Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy,” said Eiseman. This color brought orange back to popularity in a big, bold way.

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2011: Honeysuckle

Positive, confident and dynamic, Honeysuckle is a reddish-pink that makes you smile and reminds you of spring and summer. Pump up tired kitchen cabinets or repaint a picture frame with this convivial color. Top your table with honeysuckle placements or candles. Happy is always in style.

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2010: Turquoise

When blue and green unite to create Turquoise, the senses automatically start swimming in serene tropical waters. Combining warm and cool undertones, turquoise pairs well with just about any color. For a deep dive, read Ellen Meloy’s book, “The Anthropology of Turquoise,” to learn about this color’s healing power.

If you can’t decide on a color, check out these 10 useful tips for how to choose paint colors.

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2009: Mimosa

During a time of economic uncertainty and political change, Pantone chose to bring hope and sunshine into the world by toasting Mimosa. The color makes a room feel warm and creates the sense you are outdoors. The sunny color has been used often in furnishings and on tabletops.

Make your apartment or home feel cozy in no time with these 10 instant tricks!

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2008: Blue Iris

Blue was the hue back in 2008 for many of the reasons it resonates today. Unlike Classic Blue, however, Blue Iris adds purple to the mix. “As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast,” noted Eiseman. “Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic.”

These backyard relaxation ideas are major inspiration for those seeking serenity.

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2007: Chili Pepper

“In 2007, we’re going to see people making greater strides toward expressing their individuality,” said Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of the fashion, home and interiors division at Pantone. Chili Pepper was a spicy choice, adding drama and excitement to interiors. Play up your home’s strengths with these interior design tips you can try today.

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2006: Sand Dollar

In 2006, the experts chose a neutral color, Sand Dollar, as the Color of the Year. This color’s organic vibe conjures up images of the desert and beach. Sand Dollar is timeless, and can be used in home furnishings, accessories and many craft projects.

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2005: Blue Turquoise

The 2005 Color of the Year, Blue Turquoise, contains less green than the Turquoise of 2010. A cooler chroma, Blue Turquoise is the color of the Caribbean Sea. Give any room an ocean vibe by adding a rug or wall art in this aquatic hue. If you love being poolside next to all that blue, you’re sure to swoon over these jaw-dropping pools.

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2004: Tigerlily

Tigerlily celebrates nature with a bold fusion of yellow and red. An early forecaster of obsession with orange, Tigerlily blooms beautifully in the home. The perennially popular color adds energy to any room and is featured in many DIY craft projects.

The best dining room colors will help you create the right mood while also supporting the flow of your home.

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2003: Aqua Sky

Look skyward and you can see and feel the calming power of powdery blue Aqua Sky. This color often shows up in homes, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Whether you’re looking to feel relaxed or energized, these color trends can give your bathroom a much-needed refresh.

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2002: True Red

This strong, powerful color may have been selected to pay tribute to the courage of the country following the attacks of 9/11. True Red is a bold color that celebrates bravery and the strength of the heart.

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2001: Fuchsia Rose

Little has been written about why Pantone selected its first few Color of the Year winners, such as Fuchsia Rose. While the color would be a little much if used on a wall, it adds a welcome pop of color on a pillow or ottoman. Learn how to incorporate pink and patterned pillows with these trending living room ideas.

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2000: Cerulean

Pantone launched the Color of the Millennium with Cerulean, noting that consumers would be seeking inner peace and spiritual fulfillment as they entered the new millennium. Two decades later, we are still celebrating blue.

“Our studies show that blue is the leading favorite color for designers and consumers worldwide, regardless of culture, gender or geographic origin,” said Lisa Herbert, vice president of corporate communications worldwide for Pantone, Inc.

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Stacey Marcus
Freelance lifestyle and travel writer for over 20 top regional and national outlets including Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Northshore Magazine, Ocean Home Magazine, , Southern Bride Magazine and others