At Home with the Colors of the Year

When we bought a little house in Texas last year so we could spend time with our new grand baby we landed on a home that had been painted white from floor to ceiling, which eliminated any suggestion of life from its very soul. There are more color combinations than the eye can ever see. This house used none of them.

In an effort to remedy the situation, I did a quick internet search on gray paint colors – an alternative to standing in front of the paint sample display at the local home improvement center for an unimaginable amount of time. My eyes immediately settled on a Valspar trio of grays. We ordered a paint brush with three sample cans and by now the rest is history.

The color “Semi-Sweet” became the color underneath a new chair rail – mainly because no ladder was required to reach that section of wall. If not for the pandemic, I’m pretty sure I would have called in the ladders and painted some lighter version of gray all the way to the ceiling, but just 36 inches of Semi-Sweet has changed my world for now.

My husband found the peel-and-stick tile that transformed the fireplace during our last trip to Texas and it prompted an Amazon search simply stated “peel and stick” to see what materialized. Adding a chair rail molding doesn’t get any easier than this.

This gray paint was so perfect that I just knew it would fix the adjoining hallway that lacked everything. We painted it in the same style that I found in this fabulous inspiration photo on Pinterest. (See original photo at left here.)

Except Semi-Sweet was much too dark in our tiny hallway. I hated it so much that it haunted me all night. Five coats of paint later (three coats of Semi-Sweet to cover the white and two coats of Cathedral Stone to cover the three coats of Semi-Sweet), we finally have a little hallway with personality.



Our next project is to use the medium gray, Rugged Suede, on the back wall of the kitchen and on new crown molding in the bedroom. We’re contemplating trim molding for all the doors, and new artwork in the dining room. My husband is putting the crib together in the nursery today, and he doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to add an ‘Illuminating’ yellow to the wall behind the crib.

None of our rooms are actually finished, almost everything is still subject to change, and there’s only so many projects that can be finished on each trip, meaning it could take years to do everything we want. Slowly but surely, however, this house is showing signs of life.

I’m one of those people that anxiously awaits the announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year. How their designers tap into the global mood and translate this into one or two hues that define our collective psyche is simply amazing.

Pantone says, “This is just a color we see happening. If this is something that can be inspiring to you, great. But if not, don’t use it.”

PANTONE 19-4052 Introducing Classic Blue:

Instilling calm, confidence, and connection, this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.

Color of the Year 2021: Ultimate Gray with Illuminating

Amanda Gorman: January 20, 2021 (Getty / Rob Carr)

I’ve never changed my decor to incorporate the new color of the year, but there’s been plenty of unconscious decisions that would seemingly validate their psychology of color.

I didn’t remember the 2020 Color of the Year when we picked out a bed upholstered in Classic Blue velvet for the bedroom late last year. My husband wasn’t thinking about this classic blue hue when he found the Chicago Skyline artwork we put over the sofa. The 2021 colors had not yet been announced when we decided on a gray sofa, chairs and ottoman, or the yellow drapes in the bedroom.

But if that color psychology was really in our heads when we made all these selections, maybe this house is meant to be practical and rock solid but at the same time warming and optimistic. It is, after all, our threshold into this new era of life. The place we hope to spend oodles of time with the newest love of our life. It is a house filled with the promise of a sunny and friendly future.