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Pantone of the Year
photo credit: www.pantone.com

Ok friends let me be honest with you, I was talking with the genius MilHousing Network Team about the January blog topic and the consensus was we should begin with “The Pantone of the Year”. I actually had to ask and then ultimately google what “a Pantone” even was. So, how about we start right there for those of you reading that may fall into Team Ashley on this one and may be out of the Pantone loop. Pantone is basically the color wizards of our day and age or the Yoda if you will to the design color world. These folks research not just the “color” itself but how people react to the color, what emotions are elicited from seeing the color and everything else in between. They look to film, art, music and cultures of all types to draw out the next big trend. These color gurus travel the world looking for that inspiration to choose the exact right color to forecast the new “Pantone of the Year” each December for the following year. (Sounds like a super cool job to me!) For the past 20 years consumers have waited with bated breath to see what the future holds for color trends and what Pantone sees behind the color. 

Last year, the color was Classic Blue. Like I said, I had no clue Pantone existed until recently so without any idea or prompting I painted my kitchen island and china cabinet a shade of Classic Blue. How neat is that!?! Want to know something else really cool? Without knowing the color forecasted for this year I just chose a wall color for our bathroom makeover that is a shade of the 2021 color!

So, without further ado the 2021 Pantone of the Year is not one but TWO colors: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating…aka Gray & Yellow! This is only the second time they have chosen two colors instead of one. I absolutely love it because I do not think either color would shine as bright as the Pantone of the Year on their own… in my most humble, not an expert opinion of course.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute said this in response to the choosing of the 2021 colors, “The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one. 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.”

Why Two Colors This Year Instead of One?

Gray has always been my go-to base color. I believe it is grounding and neutral without going overly brown, black or beige. It is my favorite neutral to use in fashion and decor. However, gray alone can be overpowering, sometimes dull and can go dark and gloomy super quick. You have to be carefully and thoughtfully choose accents to convey the look you are going for. 

On the other side of this color combo, yellow on it’s own can also be overpowering and even a bit whimsical. The amazing thing about yellow is that is can brighten up the darkest of spaces and for me it actually “feels” happier than other colors. However, when you use too much yellow it leads you to search for something in the space to ground your eyes. This is why the use of these two shades together is such a smart, fun, unexpected use of color.

Ways to use the Pantone of the Year in Decor and Fashion

Personally, I have always loved the combo of gray and yellow together! The options with this power couple are endless! We can grab a beautiful gray bedspread and toss in a yellow throw pillow as an accent! Have a gray couch? Easy peasy! A simple yellow blanket draped stylishly over the corner will brighten up your space like magic. Try grabbing one yellow picture frame or a vase to put on an otherwise monochromatic shelf. The most beautiful yellow facelift for me comes in the form of a vase full of yellow tulips! <insert me swooning here>.

What about fashion? How about wearing that sleek, gray dress with some super sexy yellow heels? No yellow heels? Just throw on a yellow necklace or earrings? This summer try grabbing some yellow sunglasses and or fun pair of yellow tennis shoes to pair with a plain gray T-shirt and shorts.

After 2020 ended up a little more “blue” than any of us imagined let’s make 2021 amazing. This year, think outside the box, live a little, stay grounded but have some FUN!

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