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Pantone Color of the Year: A 20-Year Retrospective

For more than two decades, Pantone's color experts have scoured the universe in search of new color influences when choosing their Color of the Year. New this year, Pantone has launched a unique multi-sensory approach, including the taste, texture, scent and sound of their choice. Check out this year's Color of the Year and follow the rainbow back for the last 20 years.

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Classic-Bluevia Pantone

2020, Classic Blue

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, notes that Classic Blue is,” a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.” The color inspires creative confidence in interiors, transforming a space through unique color combinations and tonal statements. Classic Blue is also a great accent with white surfaces.

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Living-Coralvia Pantone

2019, Living Coral

Last year’s Color of the Year, Living Coral, was both vibrant and mellow. The playful color provided a welcome response to the onslaught of technology with its authentic and natural vibe that inspires connection. Living Coral is a natural welcome to spring, blooming beautifully in DIY flower and accent vases. And, here is how IKEA celebrated Living Coral.

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Ultra-Violetvia Pantone

2018, Ultra Violet

Ultra violet, a blue-based purple, takes our awareness and imagination to a new level,” noted Eiseman. The color celebrated non-conformity and creativity. Ultra violet is a great color to splash on walls of meditation spaces and art studios.

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Greeneryvia Pantone

2017, Greenery

What’s not to love about green wall paint? Symbolic of new beginnings, Greenery is a fresh yellow-green color reminiscent of the first day of spring. Pops of Greenery in our homes help bring the outdoors in. A great way to bring the fresh feeling of Greenery into your home is through live and faux plants.

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Serenity-and-Rose-Quartzvia Pantone

2016, Serenity and Rose Quartz

For the first time, Pantone blended two colors together Rose Quartz and Serenity. Cooler tranquil blue and warmer rose tones reflect wellness and peace. The combination challenged traditional color associations reflecting a gender blur in fashion. Modern couples can find myriad ways to decorate nurseries using the combination.

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Marsalavia Pantone

2015, Marsala

When you hear Marsala, you probably think of an earth, robust wine. The full-bodied Color of the Year made a strong statement on its own and provided a bold accent color for home decor.

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Radiant-Orchidvia Pantone

2014, Radiant Orchid

Eiseman described Radiant Orchid as, “an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health.” Radiant Orchid complements olive and hunter green and can be paired with turquoise, teal and even light yellows. From light and airy, to dark and moody—we’ve got 10 tried-and-true interior wall paint colors that are guaranteed to make your room look great.

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Emeraldvia Pantone

2013, Emerald

Lush and lively Emerald is a bedazzled yet natural color in jewelry and has been popular in home decor. You can paint a room with this jewel tone to add a luxurious feel or spruce up your table with Emerald dinnerware.

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Tangerine-Tangovia Pantone

2012, Tangerine Tango

“Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy,” said Eiseman. This color brought orange back to popularity in a big, bold way.

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Honeysucklevia Pantone

2011, Honeysuckle

Positive, confident and dynamic, Honeysuckle is a reddish-pink that makes you smile and reminds you of spring and summer. Pump up tired kitchen cabinets or repaint a picture frame with this convivial color. Top your table with honeysuckle placements or candles. Happy is always in style.

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Turquoisevia Pantone

2010, Turquoise

When blue and green unite to create Turquoise, the senses automatically start swimming in serene tropical waters. Combining warm and cool undertones, turquoise pairs well with just about any color. For a deep dive, read Ellen Meloy’s book, The Anthropology of Turquoise, to learn about this color’s healing power.

If you can’t decide on a color, check out these 10 useful tips for how to choose paint colors.

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Mimosavia Pantone

2009, Mimosa

During a time of economic uncertainty and political change, Pantone chose to bring hope and sunshine into the world by toasting Mimosa. The color makes a room feel warm and creates the sense you are outdoors. The sunny color has been used often in furnishings and on tabletops.

Make your apartment or home feel cozy in no time with these 10 instant tricks!

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Blue-Irisvia Pantone

2008, Blue Iris

Blue was the hue back in 2008 for many of the reasons it resonates today. Unlike Classic Blue, however, Blue Iris adds purple to the mix. “As a reflection of the times, Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspect of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic,” noted Eiseman.

These backyard relaxation ideas are major inspiration for those seeking serenity.

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Chili-Peppervia Pantone

2007, Chili Pepper

“In 2007, we’re going to see people making greater strides toward expressing their individuality,” said Lisa Herbert, executive vice president of the fashion, home and interiors division at Pantone. Chili Pepper was a spicy choice, adding drama and excitement to interiors. Play up your home’s strengths with these interior design tips you can try today.

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Sand-Dollarvia Pantone

2006, Sand Dollar

In 2006, the experts chose a neutral color, Sand Dollar, as the Color of the Year. This color’s organic vibe conjures up images of the desert and beach. Sand Dollar is timeless, and can be used in home furnishings, accessories and many craft projects.

These 12 home décor ideas will improve your interior with minimal effort.

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Blue-Turquoisevia Pantone

2005, Blue Turquoise

Pantone’s Color of the Year in 2005 was Blue Turquoise. This color contains less green than the Turquoise of 2010. A cooler chroma, Blue Turquoise is the color of the Caribbean ocean. Give any room an ocean vibe by adding a rug or wall art in this aquatic hue. If you love being poolside next to all that blue, you’re sure to swoon over these jaw-dropping pools.

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Tigerlilyvia Pantone

2004, Tigerlily

Tigerlily celebrates nature with a bold fusion of yellow and red. An early forecaster of obsession with orange, Tigerlily blooms beautifully in the home. The perennially popular color adds energy to any room and is featured in many DIY craft projects.

The best dining room colors will help you create the right mood while also supporting the flow of your home.

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Aqua-Skyvia Pantone

2003, Aqua Sky

Look up in the sky and you can see and feel the calming power of powdery blue Aqua Sky. This color often shows up in homes, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. Whether you’re looking to feel relaxed or energized, these color trends can give your bathroom a much-needed refresh.

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True-Redvia Pantone

2002, True Red

This strong, powerful color may have been selected to pay tribute to the courage of the country following the attacks of 9/11. True Red is a bold color that celebrates bravery and the strength of the heart.

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Fuchsia-Rosevia Pantone

2001, Fuchsia Rose

Not much was written on the reasons why Pantone selected its first few Color-of-the-Year winners, such as Fuchsia Rose. While the color would be a little much if used as a wall color, it adds a welcome pop of color on a pillow or ottoman. Learn how to incorporate pink and patterned pillows with these trending living room ideas.

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Ceruleanvia Pantone

2000, Cerulean

Pantone launched the Color of the Millennium with Cerulean, noting that consumers would be seeking inner peace and spiritual fulfillment as they entered the new millennium. Two decades later we are still celebrating blue. “Our studies show that blue is the leading favorite color for designers and consumers worldwide, regardless of culture, gender or geographic origin,” said Lisa Herbert, vice president, corporate communications worldwide, Pantone, Inc.

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Stacey Marcus
Freelance lifestyle and travel writer for over 20 top regional and national outlets including Boston magazine, Boston Common Magazine, Bride & Groom Magazine, Destination I Do, Northshore Magazine, Ocean Home Magazine, , Southern Bride Magazine and others