Valeria Crescenzi

Pantone color(s) of the year 2021 revealed: Ultimate gray and Illuminating

As per tradition, the Pantone Color Institute just revealed its color(s) of the year 2021: PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating.

photo credits: courtesy of pantone

It’s the second time two colors have been chosen. The first time was in 2016 when the Institute went for a blending of two shades — Rose Quartz and Serenity.

«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» — said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

In an unprecedented year like 2020, we are all looking for ways to overcome the current uncertainty. We for sure need something positive and energetic to cheer us up and PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is definitely a vibrant, positive color shade to bring into our lives. Grounding this bright hue, PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray provides for steadiness, composure, and resilience. It’s a color that reminds of pebbles and rocks and conveys a sense of solidity.

Photo credits: courtesy of Pantone

I have to say that I’m still deciding if I feel in tune with this color combination. I agree with the message behind and I get why the Pantone Color Institute went for such a choice but I’m not a fan of cold yellow shades.

This kind of yellow, whether in fashion or in interiors, is not everybody’s cup of tea. Focusing on interiors, I think this color shade gives its best when used wisely. Let’s explore some decor ideas using both Illuminating and Ultimate Gray.

How to use Illuminating and Ultimate Gray to decorate your home

A little piece of advice from my side is: use the gray for large surfaces such as walls and kitchen cabinets and keep the yellow for smaller areas and/or home decor items such as pillows, vases, and lamps. Ultimately, the Pantone Color Institute itself said that the two colors don’t have to be used in equal proportion in interior decor. I’ve made three moodboards to show you possible combinations and products for your living spaces.


  • Vitamin Ninety Stool Cutout yellow Pl (Credits:
  • Suspension lamp, E27, jaune, LED, H23cm, Ø12,5cm – Muuto (Credits: Nedgis)
  •  Merino throw – ‘MWNT’ yellow (Credits: Welsh Otter)
  • SMEG fridge yellow (Credits: SMEG)


  • norsuHOME – Hallway (Credits: norsu Interiors)
  • Ardesia calce paint (Credits: Paintup)
  •  Grey Linen Pillowcase (Credits: Chalk Pink Linen Company)
  • Modern gray carpet (Credits: Nordic Knots)
  • Flowerpot table lamp – AndTradition (Credits: Nedgis)
  • Kitchen BASIS painted with fronts in Iron and painted handles (Credits: Reform)
  • Winter Wonder Cushion, Husk Ice with Charcoal Leather Piping (Credits: norsu Interiors)


  • Lamp Elisabeth, Jaune Citron, Hartô (Credits: Nedgis)
  • Dress outdoor lamp – Torremato (Credits: Nedgis)
  • Bicolor mugs – Pantone (Credits: Pantone)
  • North Star Baby Grey Clouds blanket (Credits: norsu Interiors)
  • Bathroom Design | Charles Wall (credits: DelightFULL)
  • Harris Tweed Bench with Yellow Hairpin Legs (Credits: Perch Upholstery)

Gray and Yellow are often seen paired with each other and work especially well in modern and contemporary interiors. It can also be a good color combo if you are designing a gender-neutral room for your kids.

image as seen on petite and small

What do you think of the Pantone color(s) of the year 2021? Do you like this combination or not? Share your thoughts in the comments below or write to me on Instagram.

Looking for more color inspiration? Read the following blog post: ‘Top color trends you’ll love in Fall/Winter 2020/21‘.

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