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Pantone’s “Illuminating” May Bring Back Yellow

Yellow and gray-themed dining table setting

Decorating colors come and go, but few have retreated from the mainstream for as long as yellow. The Pantone Color Institute's selection of “Illuminating,” a cheerful light yellow, paired with the calming “Ultimate Gray” for its 2021 Color(s) of the Year, may make yellow popular again.  

Pantone describes Illuminating and Ultimate Gray as “two independent colors that highlight how different elements come together to support one another.” The pairing conjures strength and positivity that things will get better. Grays have been popular in home décor for some time, supplanting beige as the go-to neutral, but the exuberance and optimism of yellow is a welcome breath of fresh air. 

ColorPsychologymeaning.com explains that yellow is the brightest color the human eye can see. Yellow is believed to enhance creativity and to stimulate the brain to think and learn. It’s stimulating and energizing, with happy connotations like daffodils, lemonade, bananas, and children’s colorful drawings of big yellow smiling suns. ColorCode.com says that people with yellow personalities are fun-loving, enthusiastic, optimistic, charismatic, spontaneous, and sociable. 

Whether you believe color psychology is a real science or pseudo-science, it’s certainly true that yellow can add a lively, attention-getting touch to decorating. But, like red, orange, neon, or acidic colors, a little yellow goes a long way and is best utilized for smaller accessories and furniture, or to complement a focal point like a piece of art that may include a little yellow. Consider yellow for throw pillows, flowers, or occasional chairs to brighten your home.