Our 2021 Color Forecast Is Full of Calming, Nature-Inspired Paints

Expect tranquil muted blues, happy shades of yellow, and even bold doses of black in the coming year.

It's that time again when paint manufacturers release their predictions for the colors that will be most popular in the year ahead. After a tumultuous year, hues that soothe and lift our spirits are expected to be the biggest paint color trends as we say hello to 2021. Whether you prefer muted blues and greens, happy shades of yellow, or rich, moody neutrals, there's a paint color for every style.

home office with blue painted walls
Rebekah Westover Photography

1. Calming Colors

Following a year filled with so much uncertainty and unknown, it's no coincidence that muted, soothing colors are expected to be on the rise in 2021. As we spend more time working, teaching, and cooking at home, homeowners are seeking out shades that are peaceful and calming for both the mind and the eyes. Look for soft blue and muted green paint colors to trend in the new year.

Not only will these restorative tints resonate strongly with homeowners in 2021, but they're also a smart way to incorporate small pops of color into neutral spaces. These subtle shades are a great compromise for those who want some color but are not ready to go big and bold. In this office-meets-laundry room designed by Utah-based Simons Design Studio, cabinetry painted in a powdery blue offers a soft dose of color that stands in as a neutral.

Paint Color: Uncertain Gray 50% + Stardew 50%, Sherwin-Williams

brightly colored living room
The Creativity Exchange

2. Light and Bright Hues

The pandemic forced many of us to rethink the living and work spaces in our homes. As a result of spending more time indoors, many homeowners are looking for ways to add bright, natural light. White paint colors continue to surge in popularity, but paint manufacturers expect whites to trend from cool undertones to warmer, softer hues like off-whites, creams, and whites with warm gray undertones.

The easiest way to instantly increase the feeling of natural light in a room is to paint walls near windows white. This allows light to bounce off the walls and reflect throughout the space. An added benefit of white walls: they create a clean palette, a neutral foundation for layering color via art, fabrics, and small accessories, like in this neutral living room designed by Colorado-based J&O Studio.

Paint Color: Pearly White, Sherwin-Williams

brown bath tub
Claire Brody

3. Colors Inspired by Nature

Nature has long influenced homeowners' paint color selections thanks to its nurturing qualities and association with wellness, both of which are needed now more than ever. According to paint manufacturers, incorporating outdoor elements inside our homes will continue to impact color choices in 2021. When painted on walls and cabinetry, soothing nature-inspired earth tones provide a relaxing organic atmosphere.

Colors like muted moss green, diffused clay, and spice tones are expected to increase in popularity in the year ahead. When carried through from the walls to the ceiling, these earthy hues can make a space feel extra cozy and inviting. In this bathroom designed by Claire Brody, paneled walls in a soft shade of green complement back-to-nature colors seen throughout the space, including bamboo blinds, a copper soaking tub, and sandy-hued surfaces.

Paint Color: Retreat, Sherwin-Williams

living room painted black
Lucy Call

4. Almost-Black Shades

When determining yearly color forecasts, paint manufacturers take a close look at design trends as well as global issues and influences. One of the biggest trends last year was the resurgence of black on walls, home accessories, and cabinetry. (Although some of us say black never really disappeared!) In the new year, more diffused black colors will be used over traditional true black.

Diffused blacks are "almost-black" colors. These dark shades have a strong gray, brown, or green undertone that takes some of the edge off of black and softens its boldness. Paint manufacturers see this trend continuing to unfold throughout 2021 and include several diffused black selections in their forecasts, including Tricorn Black by Sherwin-Williams, Cyberspace by Sherwin-Williams, and Broadway by Behr. In this living room by Studio McGee, rich black walls create a cozy, grounded space for studying, relaxing, or entertaining.

Paint Color: Greenblack, Sherwin-Williams

moody blue painted office
Stoffer Photography Interiors

5. Moody Jewel Tones

Additional dark, moody paint colors will be popular in 2021—a trend that actually started to unfold last year. However, manufacturers expect to see consumers choose rich, evocative neutrals like deep chestnut, charcoal (an almost-black), and dark jewel tones. These deep colors have complex layered undertones, giving a velvety appearance to surfaces.

Pair these deep colors with white, which creates beautiful contrast and coziness. In this home office by Timber Trails, home builders based in Illinois, white accessories and furnishings pop against subdued blue built-ins.

Paint Color: Charlotte Slate, Benjamin Moore

light painted laundry room
The Creativity Exchange

6. Happy Hues

As we move into 2021, the world is hopeful for the year ahead. There's no better way to celebrate this optimism than with cheerful colors in our homes. Color plays an important role in our homes and our moods, so seeking out opportunities to incorporate hues that resonate with us can make an impact on our daily lives. Whether it's laundry room cabinetry updated with a happy shade of green-blue, like these built-ins designed by The Creativity Exchange, or a bright and happy shade of yellow on an accent wall, cheerful colors have the ability to lift our spirits when we need it most.

Paint Color: Nature's Gift, Behr

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