Shades of Glory: The Colors of 2016

From soft pastels to creamy whites, here’s a breakdown of this year’s predicted color trends.

Story by Brooke McGrath

Pantone made quite a splash with its annual color announcement by naming two colors as its highly anticipated Color of the Year. Welcome Rose Quartz and Serenity to its coveted list.

A pair of pastels, Pantone describes Rose Quartz as a soft pink that “conveys compassion and a sense of composure,” while Serenity is its soft-blue counterpart, “bringing feelings of respite and relaxation, even in turbulent times.” Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute Leatrice Eiseman says using the colors together blurs gender lines, demonstrating equality while reflecting a sense of wellness, order and peace.

Photo courtesy of MasterBrand

“I think it’s a very interesting combination,” says Jackie Jordan, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “It’s more of a Scandinavian aesthetic that leans toward a clean, feminine depth for me because it is a softer, cuddly kind of color combo. Seeing it used in various imagery, it provides a serene setting, a kind of place that you just want to linger, escape and get away. Those colors lend themselves to that environment.”

But don’t worry. She’s not telling you to splash your walls with this relatively bold color combo—a little goes a long way. Use them on objects as opposed to walls, Jordan suggests, like in upholstered furniture or a painted chair (with a blue pillow) perhaps in a white or gray-painted room; any subtle application rather than an all-out pink and blue combo.

Photo courtesy of MasterBrand

When it comes to pairing these with other colors, Pantone advises using them—in any and all finishes and metallic sheens—with greens and purples, yellows and pinks, and rich browns. An added silver or bright hue will provide “more splash and sparkle.” Jordan says they’ll work well with other pastels, grays and whites, a buttery yellow or beautiful mint green, and copper tones and metals popular on the market these days. Yes, it’s definitely a matter of opinion, but it seems that almost anything goes. (A word of advice: Consult a designer or color expert before coating walls in colorful paint.)  If you’re looking for close color matches, Sherwin-Williams recommends its Alyssum, a happy and energetic light pink, and Celestial, a traditional and classic calming light blue.

Though the company always has touted the use of color, it’s now taking the opposite stance by promoting the subtle, healing, therapeutic shade of Alabaster, a creamy off-white that can go in pretty much any design direction, Jordan says of its 2016 Color of the Year.

Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams

“Within the four color stories we talk about each year, I pull out a color from the one that resonates more loudly than the others,” she explains. “White is a color that overall sent the message of getting away from a crazy, hectic lifestyle and finding a place where we can get away from all technology and be in a spiritual and healing environment.”

And, as you also might have guessed, you can use this limitless color just about anywhere, with anything—bedrooms for sanctuary, kitchens (white is a hot color for this space right now), even nurseries with wood tones and flashes of color. Give your home a classic, elegant look by pairing it with beige, gray or black accents.

Though very different in nature, both Sherwin-Williams and Pantone’s reasoning for choosing their soothing top choices is pretty much the same: “We chose Alabaster [because of its] soft sentiment that attracts you to home,” Jackie says. “It provides peace and tranquility.” Apparently, white is top of mind as Benjamin Moore also chose a classic white—Simply White—for its Color Palette of the Year, and PPG Industries’ brands are on trend with Glidden’s pick of Cappuccino White and Olympic’s Blue Cloud.