Introducing the 2021 Color(s!) of the Year

In Interior Design by Specialty Drapery

For only the second time in its twenty-one-year history, Pantone has selected not one but two Colors of the Year. The 2021 Colors of the Year are PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. How were these two independent yet complementary colors selected? And more importantly, why are there two colors instead of one? We thought you’d never ask.

How Pantone Picks the Color of the Year

Each year, the color experts at Pantone meticulously scour the globe for emerging color trends. Influences include the entertainment industry, art exhibits, current events, and of course, fashion. Through careful data collection and analysis, Pantone identifies which color — or in the case of 2021, colors — bubbles to the top and continuously reappears across industries, geographies, and disciplines.

Leatrice Eiseman, the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, explains this year’s color selection:

“The union of an enduring Ultimate Gray with the vibrant yellow Illuminating expresses a message of positivity supported by fortitude. Practical 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.”

 – Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute

Pantone chose two Colors of the Year because of the transformative year that delivered us — not unscathed — on 2021’s doorstep. Eiseman describes Ultimate Gray as “the one that’s more supportive and solid, the practical foundation that we need.” She says that Illuminating “is about hopefulness and sunshine and good cheer.” Together, the two colors illustrate the need for connection made so apparent during the divisive year from which we’ve just emerged.

2021 Colors of the Year Design Inspiration

With two Colors of the Year, the opportunity for integrating these en vogue shades into your decor doubles! If you’re unsure of how to incorporate Ultimate Gray and Illuminating yellow into your aesthetic, try these ideas.

Accent Walls

Painting an entire room can seem too overwhelming and, well, permanent. However, selecting a single wall as an accent provides the perfect occasion to dip your toes into the 2021 Colors of the Year. Depending on your existing decor and your desire to completely redecorate, you can select either the neutral gray or vibrant yellow for your accent wall.


If you’re in the market for a new sectional or the table in the breakfast nook requires a fresh coat of paint, why not try one of the Colors of Year? While a yellow sofa or table is not for the faint of heart, you’ll certainly be on-trend at least until 2022 rolls around and possibly longer. If you prefer a less trendy investment, gray will likely be in style for quite some time, as it provides a perfect neutral compromise between white and black. Choose a gray sectional or paint your breakfast nook table gray, and you’ll be set for the foreseeable future.


Investing in new accessories requires the least commitment of these decor ideas, so go for the gold on this one! Pillows, throws, tea towels, you name it — pops of Illuminating will bring a sense of cheerfulness and hope throughout your home. Accessories are easily swapped out for fresh pieces when you tire of them, but your favorites can also become signature elements of your style that make your home uniquely yours.

Window Treatments

You can also incorporate the 2021 Colors of the Year into your home as window treatments. The design experts at Specialty Drapery can help you select the type of window treatment that meets your needs, from blinds or shutters to shades or drapes. Furthermore, we can provide design guidance for which Color of the Year will work best based on your space and preferences.

Whether you’re looking to completely redecorate your home for the new year, add an accent wall, revamp your furniture, freshen up your accessories, or modernize your window treatments, there are plenty of ways to incorporate Pantone’s 2021 Colors of the Year into your decor. No matter how you integrate Ultimate Gray or Illuminating into your space, we hope these hues bring you exactly what Pantone intended: a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.

Since 1967, Specialty Drapery has provided the highest quality of window treatment solutions to the Mid-Atlantic region. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail and relentless pursuit of customer delight. Contact us to schedule your design consultation.