A Look Back at the Last Decade of Sherwin-Williams’ Color of the Year

Do you take design inspiration from the annual color-of-the-year choices made by color gurus? Take a look at the pick for 2020 and walk back through the last decade to see how color trends change—or stay the same.

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2020: Naval

Sherwin-Williams’ 2020 Color of the Year is Naval (SW 6244), a deep, proud blue that is sure to become one of this year’s new neutrals. At once polished and posh, it’s also a nod to nature—”from infinite night sky to the mysterious depths of the sea.” It will set off perennially popular marble tile beautifully and allow trending brass fixtures to really shine.

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2019: Cavern Clay

2019’s Color of the Year, Cavern Clay (SW 7701) is a terracotta with a pink kick—think of it as an earthier millennial pink. Cavern Clay (shown here on the upper wall of the staircase landing) can go with a southwestern style as easily as a boho bungalow. Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams, said that the color “embodies renewal, simplicity and free-spirited, Bohemian flair.” This color works particularly well for an accent wall. Here are 12 color trends that will be hot in the year to come.

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2018: Oceanside

This marine hue (SW 6496) is bold, beautiful and more chameleon-like than you might think at first glance: It can infuse energy into a neutrally decorated space, or cool off hotter accent colors, such as lemon yellow. Ocean lovers, take note—this is your color. Just be prepared to make a big splash with this color of the year. Here are 12 kitchen colors trends that will continue to be popular in the coming years.

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2017: Poised Taupe

Just because it is neutral doesn’t mean it lacks depth or complexity: This sophisticated taupe (SW 6038) combines a soft brown with an easy gray. The result? “A weathered, woodsy and complex neutral that celebrates the imperfections and authenticity of a well-lived life,” according to Sherwin-Williams. We say this balanced neutral is a winner, no matter what year it is.

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2016: Alabaster

SW 7006, Alabaster, is a warm, creamy white that reminds us of a museum, in a good way! Chic as an all-encompassing color, or graphic when paired with a bold black, it’s a hue that warms the light (and flatters the face), feels peaceful and allows the eye to rest. 2016, 2020 or beyond, this is a safe color of the year pick.

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2015: Coral Reef

There’s perhaps no other better descriptor for SW 6606 than vivacious. It exudes happy, even celebratory, optimism. A beautiful pairing with walnut furnishings (because we’re at the height of the mid-century modern revival, this was optimal timing for this color of the year), bold black-and-white upholstery or tile for a more Miami feel. While this orange-red pink was quickly swapped for dustier, blush options, this color is still beautiful paired with Naval—2020’s color of the year.

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2014: Exclusive Plum

In 2014, blue, red and gray came together to make the color of the year: SW 6263, Exclusive Plum. While purple can sometimes come with design-pairing quandaries, this shade can be romantic, ethereal or dramatic, depending on furnishings and accent colors. Despite its adaptability, we’re thinking this one might stay in the shadows a bit longer before making a comeback. Follow these 10 steps to help ensure that you end up with a paint job that’s smooth and looks professional.

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2013: Aloe

This minty green (SW 6464) is and was a vintage callback even in 2013 when Sherwin-Williams chose it for color of the year. Paired with black-and-white floor tile, it might evoke a ’50s diner, which isn’t currently the trend, but pair it with driftwood browns or dirty neutrals and this color looks fresh and new. See what 5 pros say about where and how to test your paint samples.

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2012: Argyle

Once chosen as color of the year for it’s nod to greener pastures, this bold green is coming back into favor, although the tone of today’s greens tends to be more toward deeper, jewel-toned emeralds. While SW 6747 (the darkest green on this dresser) was once a perfectly preppy choice, if it feels a bit dated to you, choose a green with more gray or black in it to bring it into vogue. The best dining room colors help you create the right mood while also supporting the flow of your home.

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2011: Indigo Batik

SW 7602 is truly an accurate take on the batik dyes seen in clothing—a deep, gray-blue. It’s a cozy color that would warm up an otherwise cold or unwelcoming space, add some elegance to a library or den, or set off brighter colors (magenta, chartreuse) or patterns in a Bohemian setting. So flexible, it could be the color of the year this year—or 10 years ago. We’ve rounded up 15 of the best kitchen color schemes that will stand the test of time.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.