Color Trends 2021: The 4 Most Popular Paint Colors of the Year

Illustration with color trends in 2021

Every decade has a distinctive style. Show a crowd wearing earth tones and we’ll instantly think of the 70s. Neon styles on both clothing and in the home always suggests the 80s. And where there’s an abundance of plaid, there’s probably going to be references to the 90s. However, even individual years have their own distinct colors.

The reasons for color preferences vary. But there’s one certainty we can always count on. Every year will bring something new to our perception of color. With that in mind, just what can we expect from 2021? What colors have become more popular and which can we expect to see more of in the future? What are your best options if you want to paint your home in a style that’ll feel timely?

The answer can be found within companies, brands, industry experts and influencers. By taking a look at some of the most influential sources in the industry we can get an idea of where the world is heading. Of course as you go through the list you should keep in mind that you’re the architect of your own style. You can mix and match these or any other color to create your own fun take on both 2021 and the decade as a whole.

1. Sherwin-Williams Urbane Bronze

Urbane Bronze
Hex #54504A
RGB 84, 80, 74

HGTV is placing their bet on Urbane Bronze in 2021. They have a solid reason for thinking that this color will make big waves in 2021. We’ll be seeing this topic come up fairly often with the other colors as well. And that underlying factor is a desire for comfort, stability and safety.

2020 has been one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory. The world as a whole seldom faces a singular issue which changes how everyone looks at their life. But 2020 provided just such an event. It has left many, arguably even most, people in search of comfort and stability.

Urbane Bronze paints a clear picture with its stable and calming foundation. The color combines the strength of standard bronze with hints of prior decades. In particular it often hints at themes from the 70s and 90s. This lends a certain timelessness to bronze’s already stable image. But on top of that the hints of gray within Urbane Bronze give it an optimistically modern feel. It’s a color which has a firm foundation in the past while gazing with optimism at the future.

2. Pantone’s Ultimate Gray + Illuminating

Ultimate Gray
Hex #939597
RGB 147, 149, 151

Illuminating
Hex #F5DF4D
RGB 245, 223, 77

Pantone has selected not one but two different colors for 2021. Pantone’s color of the year for 2021 is a combination of Ultimate Gray and Illuminating. The choice of two different colors is surprising at first glance. However, it speaks to what many of us hope to see in 2021.

In the midst of difficult times we all hope to come together. Not by erasing differences, but rather by emphasizing our individual strengths as we work toward a common good. As with Urbane Bronze we see a combination of stability and vibrancy.

Ultimate Gray is the solid foundation which we need to stand on to create a new future. Illuminating is a vibrant shade of yellow which at first glance might seem to contrast with Ultimate Gray. However, the specific shade of yellow seen with Illuminating works with the gray rather than against it. By combining the two colors we can essentially see a bright dawn shining down on a solid gray foundation.

3. Benjamin Moore’s Aegean Teal

Aegean Teal
Hex #708A8C
RGB 112, 138, 140

Benjamin Moore has put forward Aegean Teal as 2021’s color of the year. Aegean Teal has hints of gray which are somewhat reminiscent of Pantone’s choice. But the lighter shades of teal take gray into a different direction than we might assume.

Gray is usually a more solid foundation. It’s easy to see it in that role within Aegean Teal as well. But the blueish green of Aegean Teal also lends it a softer and more nature themed affect. Aegean Teal evokes similar feelings as the Aegean sea. When we look at calm waters we typically feel relaxed and even homey. There’s a certain domesticity to those calming colors which even extends to outdoor environments such as the sea. Aegean Teal makes us think of calm waters and beautiful blue skies dotted with the occasional cloud.

The color also has a solid utilitarian bent. Aegean Teal offers a similar complementary base as blue, green and gray. As such it’s easy to work Aegean Teal into existing designs. Though the complex and soothing tone is also well suited to act as the centerpiece of a room’s design.

4. Dulux’s Brave Ground

Brave Ground
Hex #9D8E7E
RGB 157, 142, 126

Dulux’s choice for color of the year goes to Brave Ground. Brave Ground offers an interesting contrast to Aegean Teal. Both colors reference aspects of the natural world. But where Aegean Teal references the calming teal waters, Brave Ground instead looks to the comforting brown earth.

Brave Ground does continue a trend where people are searching for a solid foundation. The earth itself is many people’s definition of comfort and stability. Brave Ground harkens back to the feelings many of us have as we hike along trails. We feel the solid ground beneath our feet as we gaze out over the landscape. Brave Ground captures that feeling and offers us a little bit of the natural world while we’re indoors.

Common Threads in the Trends for 2021

Trendy living room interior in popular colors of the year 2021 with a yellow sofa placed in front of a gray painted wall

What can we take away from these color trends for 2021? The three big themes from these trends are stability, hope and nature. Many of us have spent much more time indoors during 2020 than we’d intended. This may well have sparked a renewed interest in nature. Likewise, we tend to seek the stability of nature during uncertain times. This too goes along with the natural themes gaining attention in 2021.

Finally, we’re all hopeful that 2021 will see us all moving in positive directions. The hope inherent to this worldview can also be seen in the color choices. People who want to capture the theme of this year should plan around these general ideas.