If you’re like me, these past nine months have provided plenty of time to scrutinize interiors and seriously mull over a color transformation for the classic white walls of my pre-World War II apartment.
The effort of painting isn’t the problem, it’s finding the right shade that works well in all types of light, is not outdated nor overly shocking, and will pair nicely with existing furnishings and artwork. Also, the hue needs to level up the personality of the room, not temper it. These are the notions I ponder as I hover over a smattering of color options for my living room walls.
With January in sight — and with it, resolutions to purge and organize and remodel on everyone’s minds — nearly every leading paint company is vying for consumer attention by touting one or more favorite colors for the year ahead.
In early December, global color authority Pantone Color Institute, a provider of professional color language standards and digital solutions used by industries across the world, presented a pair of colors for 2021: “Ultimate Gray,’’ a midtone neutral, and “Illuminating,’’ a lively shade of yellow.
“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 at the institute. “Practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic, this is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope.’’ The brand said this is a color combination that works well in living spaces, especially a home office.
The complete Colormix Forecast Sherwin-Williams recently released spans no fewer than 40 hues across the color wheel, from assorted blues to muddy greens, subdued reds, warm whites, and even bright pink. A grayish shade of brown dubbed “Urbane Bronze’’ is Sherwin-Williams’s color of the year. According to the brand, the moody tint embodies the richness of metal, stone, and wood; is ideal for creating a sense of sanctuary in personal spaces; and pairs well with warmer earth tones.
Gala Magriñá, a holistic interior designer in New York City, views “Urbane Bronze’’ as a complex and strong color, superb for the outside of a home. “In contrast with the vast outdoors, the color would stand out beautifully while simultaneously emphasizing the surroundings,’’ Magriñá said.
Alternatively, try it on a door or focal wall for a punch of drama, suggested Magriñá, who recommended pairing the color with a shade of blush. “A soft pink completely transforms a darker color and makes it warmer, and pairs really nicely with brown. We’re seeing this color combination a lot now.’’
Benjamin Moore has selected an oceanic shade of blue-green called “Aegean Teal’’ as its color of the year, along with a palette of 12 earthy hues that includes shades of clay, soil, and muslin. “Amid uncertainty, people yearn for stability. The colors we surround ourselves with can have a powerful impact on our emotions and well-being,’’ Andrea Magno, Benjamin Moore’s director of color marketing and development, said in a news release.
Lilit Devejian, a principal partner and designer at LuxySpace, which has an office in Beverly Hills, said the selected teal color makes her feel at ease, and suggests pairing it with shades of white. “It has a lovely hint of a throwback vintage feel. We see this color being a great choice for a minimalistic millennial loft. It’s modern Zen meets creativity!’’
Behr, another leading paint brand, recently announced its Color Trends 2021 Palette, a panoply of 21 colors, which run the gamut from neutrals to bolds. Within the selections, some shades resonate more with consumers, including hues like “Smoky White’’ and “Barnwood Gray,’’ which is an attractive go-to neutral with a hint of green, and versatile enough for interior and exterior projects. Warmer tones, which include a taupe called “Almond Wisp’’ and “Sierra,’’ an earthy hue, are also gaining popularity with consumers.
Of the palette, “it’s got a distinct ’80s vibe, which is very on-brand in fashion and pop culture,’’ said Katie Rosenfeld, a Wellesley designer known for her bold use of color and patterns. Lately, Rosenfeld’s preferred colors skew toward chocolate brown, beige, cream, and nude along with myriad shades of yellow.
Designer Natalie Ebel, a cofounder of the Web-based paint company Backdrop, proffers that earth tones and blues, such as its popular “Surf Camp’’ hue — a dark blue with green undertones — are fitting colors for the upcoming year. The brand’s terra-cotta-like shade “Ghost Ranch’’ delivers a warm and earthy vibe suitable for accent walls, yet it’s uplifting yellows that are having a moment, Ebel said, like Backdrop’s retro, sunny shade “Disco Nap.’’
“Since this is a bright and energetic color, I would use it in a breakfast nook or home office to create an uplifting and energizing feeling,’’ said Magriñá, who suggested pairing the shade with whites and blues in the home.
In September, PPG Paint Brand released its first 14-color paint palette of the year, titled “Be Well,’’ which spotlights three hues: “Transcend,’’ a mid-tone beige; “Big Cypress,’’ a ginger orange; and “Misty Aqua,’’ a muted tropical turquoise.
“All of these hues evoke feelings of wellness and promote calmness, something that we all desperately need right now,’’ said Katie Sprague, senior vice president of global design firm CallisonRTKL, which has used similar colors in a hospital project. “It’s crucial to understand that color has an incredible impact on healing and mental well-being.’’
Online paint brand Clare takes a more data-driven approach by analyzing sales information and customer feedback to inform favored colors. The brand’s top-selling shades are whites and neutrals. “We also saw a noticeable uptick in shades of yellow, like ‘Lemonade,’ which could indicate people are looking for more cheerful colors to help brighten up their homes during this time,’’ said Nicole Gibbons, Clare’s founder and CEO. Likewise, shades of pink, such as “Rosé Season,’’ also saw a jump in sales, meaning consumers are seeking out cheerier tints.
Before you log on and order paint, remember that colors viewed online will look different on your walls, cautioned designer Angie Hranowsky of Charleston, S.C.
First, find a color inspiration, like pillows or a fabric in the room. “Narrow it down to a couple of color options, and then choose a few paints within those shades to test on your walls. Colors on a computer screen will never look like they do in person, so try and get swatches to select from before ordering.’’
If you’ve come across a color you love and want to match it precisely, try the ColorReader EZ, a new paint color-matching device, available for $59 at datacolor.com. To use it, hold the device on top of the color you want to match, hit the button, and watch as matches from most major paint brands are displayed on the coordinating app.
So what color, then, am I leaning toward for my living room walls? I’ll know for sure once my samples arrive in the mail.
Christina Poletto lives in New York City, where she writes about unusual old homes and interior design trends. Follow her on Instagram @christina_poletto. Send comments to [email protected]. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.