The world’s color authority is out with its anticipated Color of the Year. The Pantone Color Institute, which standardizes swatches for the design industry, has announced its annual selection of not one but two hues for 2021—PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating. “The two independent colors come together to create an aspirational color pairing, conjoining deeper feelings of thoughtfulness with the optimistic promise of a sunshine-filled day,” writes Pantone.


Illuminating is a bright and cheerful yellow sparkling with vivacity, a warming yellow shade imbued with solar power, Pantone notes. Ultimate Gray is emblematic of solid and dependable elements, which are everlasting and provide a firm foundation.


“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,” noted Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute. “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.”


Now that the experts have spoken, how can the colors influence home decor and design in 2021? Pantone notes Ultimate Gray and Illuminating are a great combination to set the mood in any room using decor, paint and exterior finishes. Pantone also notes the colors make the ideal combination for any home office, with gray providing a firm foundation and yellow heightening awareness, curiosity and intuition. Below, we showcase homes ahead of the curve, showcasing similar hues in their rich design palettes.

At 6201 Poindexter Lane in North Bethesda, gray tones lend warmth and serenity to the open, airy living spaces filled with illuminating natural light. Represented by Nurit Coombe, the five-bedroom, four-bath craftsman-style ranch was designed by award-winning architect Rui Ponte, incorporating gray tones inside and out, allowing the lush, green surroundings to take center stage.

Located ten minutes from Palm Springs, 15944 Snow Creek Road is tucked into a private cove of olive groves at the base of Mt. San Jacinto. Bright yellow hues are featured throughout the home, inspired by the year-round warmth and sunshine enjoyed at this abode. Represented by Ruben Valerio and Jeff Kohl, the architectural A-frame uses bright yellow tones to enliven the living experience and natural desert landscape.

A peaceful retreat in the quaint, coastal town of Todos Santos, Mexico, Casa Artesana infuses bright yellow hues inside and out. Represented by Joanne Berkowitz and Alejandro Mitre, the two-bedroom home on the Pacific Coast of Baja Sur uses vibrant color, such as the yellow-polished countertops, to capture the authentic spirit of Mexico.

On the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja peninsula in La Paz, Casa Palmira uses yellow hues to emphasize the natural light, bringing a relaxed elegance to the stately gray stone columns and archways throughout. Represented by Alejandro Mitre and Bruno Bourlon, the four-bedroom retreat captures sweeping ocean views from nearly every room.