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Meet the new hues that will color you happy this year.

By Kelsey Mulvey
December 19, 2020
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If 2020 has taught us anything, design-wise, it's that our spaces are in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. Since most of us spent a lot more time at home than we thought we would, we've grown to look at our homes with a critical eye. And, after looking at the same rooms day after day, our once-perfect paint color now feels a tad dull. Don't worry, this design woe is an easy fix.

Not only is repainting your walls a relatively simple DIY project, but it also has the power to completely transform the look and feel of your room. The only question that remains is which color should you choose? To help you start 2021 on the right foot, we asked several design experts about the colors they think will be big in the new year. While their picks run the gamut from airy neutrals, to earthy hues, to crowd-pleasing blues, one thing's for sure: The new year will be all about creating soothing spaces.

Tangled Up in Blues

For as long as we can remember, blue has been known for being one incredibly soothing shade. (Don't believe us? Think about how relaxed you feel when you look at the sky or are lounging by the ocean.) 2020 has been a tough year for many, so it's only natural that blue will become an "it" hue.

"Continuing into 2021, we'll see blues dip into the dark hue–bold blue walls and deep accent blues such as Hague Blue from Farrow & Ball," says Karina Lameraner, creative stylist at Modsy. "We'll also continue to see blue being used as an 'subtle accent' in more neutral spaces, adding a slight touch of color to those safer spaces."

According to Modsy's 2020 State of the Home Trend Report, 38% of Modsy customers requested designs with cool tones in 2020. So, why should the new year be any different?

Back to Nature

Neutral Interior
Credit: Interior Define

After spending so much time inside, many of us are craving some quality time with the great outdoors. If you want to be one with nature, consider adding earthy tones to your home.

"As our home continues to be a sanctuary in 2021, we're seeing a heightened interest in accenting the room with a calming earth tone palette," says Christina Holland, CPO of Interior Define. "Consumers are bringing the outdoors in, and gravitating towards the rich hues seen in nature such as vibrant citrines, deep greens and blues, chocolate browns, and burnt rusts. Infusing these earthy colors via wall color, furniture elements, or accent pieces create warmth and add comfort to the space."

A stylish palette that has Mother Nature's seal of approval? It's the best of both worlds.

Go Big With Brown

While earthy tones are poised to make it big in 2021, Kiel Wullner says brown will be the one hue to rule them all.

"For the past decade, greys have ruled the design world, but the demand for warmer colors is making a comeback," Vesta's vice president of design explains. "Soft browns and beige tones are being used for wall colors and upholstery like in our Vesta Collections Monet Lounge Chair to bring a soft, homier glow to spaces."

Wulllner's right: After years of the same black and white color palette, a splash of brown is the breath of fresh air our spaces need.

All About Aubergine

Want to treat yourself to the lap of luxury? According to interior designer Jean Liu, 2021 will be all about rich, moody hues.

"Aubergine everything," she says. "We're crushing hard on this color now, and we think it packs a punch for setting the mood of any room. It also reads like a neutral to us, making it an easy paint color to work with in a variety of homes and settings. Our go-to color for this is currently Farrow and Ball's Brinjal."

We can picture this hue being a gorgeous backdrop for some elaborate prints, plush textures, and gilded hardware.

Style With Saffron

Just because your travel plans have been put on hold doesn't mean you can't flex your jetsetter status. If you want to bring a slice of wanderlust to your home, designer Shawna Underwood recommends adding bold hues like saffron.

"The regal color of saffron is an unexpected pop of color that can be paired with almost anything," she says. "In 2021, I believe we will see moody charcoals, saturated reds, or a refreshing turquoise play as backdrops or accents to the sophisticated hue of saffron. Getting cozy on a rich velvet sofa or painting an entire room in saffron will instantly make you feel like you are living abroad."

This color is like an instant vacation—no passport required.

Hello, Yellow

Yellow Foyer
Credit: Andrew Kung Photography, Provided by Isabel Ladd

Why stop at saffron? Designer Isabel Ladd says yellow of all shades will shine bright in 2021.

"Yellow used to get a bad rap for being too traditional or too drab," she shares. "When I ask new clients what colors they'd like me to avoid, they almost inevitably say, 'Yellow.' But that's because you are not using the right shade of yellow, and it can indeed look very dowdy and uninspired. A confident, bold, and crisp yellow can really make this color (and the room!) radiate. And don't relegate this to paint. Wallpaper is a wonderful way to bring in bold color and pattern, [which is] always a winning combination."

Note taken.

Stick It Into Neutral

According to Highlyann Krasnow, founder and creative director of a boutique design firm called The Design High, you can never go wrong with neutrals.

"Whites and light neutrals are the new color, or better yet, non-color of choice," she explains. "We're predicting the layering of different versions of whites with black accents will be the modern, simple trend aesthetic. "

The best thing about neutral paint? You can continuously evolve your place, adding bold patterns and pops of color as you see fit.

Pastel Palette

Blue Entryway
Credit: Brooke Schwab, Provided by Elizabeth Cooper

Want to turn your home into a soothing sanctuary? You'll want to go to the soft side.

"I think that people will be opting for more serene—yet still happy and uplifting—interiors during a chaotic time, both in terms of color and pattern," says designer Elizabeth Cooper. "[Hues] like oyster, chalk, cream, oatmeal, soft sky blues, and celadon greens will be go-tos for a more serene 2021."

Want to make your serene space feel even more cozy? Mix and match tactile fabrics in an equally subdued hue. They'll pop against your pastel paint without upstaging the rest of the space.