Interior Colour Trends of 2021 and the Colour of the Year
Colour is at the root of most design choices – whether you’re obsessed with coordinating hues or prefer to turn to the colour wheel to determine complementary choices, colour can make or break your space. Although there will always be certain colour combos that remain firmly in the design zeitgeist, it’s hard to deny that trends have abundant power, and they’re always evolving.
Furniture pieces, decor and interior elements are driven by trends in 2021 more than ever. From the Pantone Colour of the Year, awaited by design fanatics every year with bated breath, to the TikTok famous ‘neutral aesthetic’, colour trends have made their way into our society’s collective consciousness. To help you stay in the loop with everything happening in the world of colour, we’re rounding up five of the most relevant colour trends for 2021, as well as diving into the Pantone Colour of the Year.
Key Terms and Definitions You Need to Know
Before we get started, let’s brush up on our colour lingo. Here are some terms you should keep in your vocabulary when it comes to colour.
- Primary colour: Although you may have already learned this in childhood art classes, here’s a refresher on primary colours – these are red, yellow and blue. They’re at the top of the figurative colour hierarchy, as they can’t be made by mixing other colours.
- Secondary colour: Secondary colours can be created by mixing two primary colours. These are purple (red + blue), green (yellow + blue) and orange (red + yellow).
- Tertiary colour: There are six tertiary colours, created when you mix a primary and a secondary colour. They’re typically named after those two colours (e.g. red-orange). From here, you can add white, grey or black to change the colour further.
- Shade: The ‘shade’ of a colour refers to how light or dark it is. To change the shade of a colour, you add black to darken it.
- Tone: A tone is created by adding grey to an existing colour, or through a process of tinting and shading.
- Tint: The tint of a colour, like a shade, also refers to its overall lightness or darkness on the colour spectrum. Adding white changes the tint of a colour.
- Texture: Although these next terms don’t refer to colour explicitly, they can play a big role in your interior selections. Texture refers to the appearance or feel of a surface. Certain colours and textures work particularly well together, so it’s important to keep texture in mind when you’re selecting colours, and vice versa.
- Material: The material of an object is what it’s made out of – linen, wood, velvet, the list goes on! Just like textures, certain colours lend themselves to specific materials.
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The Types of Colour Schemes
Colour schemes might seem simple, but did you know there are actually seven distinctive types? Once equipped with this knowledge, you’ll find it easier than ever to create, execute and perfect your design dreams in your home using colour.
- Monochromatic: Monochromatic colour schemes are comprised of one hue, modified with varying shades, tones and tints. For instance, it might involve a pale colour, a middling colour and a dark colour, all of which are derived from the same hue. Monochromatic colour schemes are always in style, and can create an incredibly cohesive look in a room or home.
- Analogous: Analogous colour schemes include hues that are next to each other on the colour wheel – for example, blue, blue-green and green. Create a distinct theme in your space by using analogous colours that complement one another. Analogous schemes almost always consist of three colours and include one primary.
- Complementary: Opposites attract! Complementary colours are opposite one another on the colour wheel, and so, are fundamentally a great match. For instance, pair yellow and purple or blue and orange. Complementary colours can be used in any part of your home, from big pieces of furniture to the finer elements like decor.
- Split complementary: Split complementary colour schemes include one base colour, often a primary, and the two colours adjacent to its complementary. A split complementary palette could include red, the primary colour, and then two colours next to its primary, green. In this case, those two colours would be yellow-green and green-blue. Split complementary colours create visual interest in a way that’s not overwhelming in the home.
- Triadic: As the name might suggest, triadic colour schemes involve a triangle that’s imposed on the colour wheel to determine the hues within your palette. The results are three colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel, creating a palette that’s harmonious, vibrant and intriguing.
- Tetradic: A tetradic colour palette uses four colours on the wheel – two sets of complementary hues. When lined up, these form a rectangle on your colour wheel. An example of a tetradic colour scheme is red and green (complementary) and blue and orange (also complementary). While these schemes are often quite bold, pulling from all areas of the colour wheel, they’re also adventurous and a great way to add excitement to a space.
- Square: Finally, a square colour theme consists of, in straightforward terms, four colours in a square pattern on the colour wheel. Unlike a tetradic scheme, the colours must be evenly spaced across the wheel. Use this palette to make astatement in your space that’s still easy to pare back where necessary.
The 2021 Pantone Colour of the Year – Ultimate Grey
Now that you’re schooled on the basics of colour theory, as well as the relationship between colour and texture and material, let’s talk about one of the design world’s most hotly-anticipated announcements, the Pantone Colour of the Year.
2021’s colour is Ultimate Grey, a natural, earthy grey that the brand describes as ‘emblematic of solid and dependable elements’. This colour is the perfect equaliser in your home – a great jumping off point for playing with bright tones, or the grounding element that ties your neutrals together, Ultimate Grey fits with almost all interior styles and pieces.
We’re about to dive into five other colour trends, but if Ultimate Grey has already piqued your interest, here are a few of our favourite pieces that’ll help you integrate this colour into your home.
Colour Scheme #1 – Warm Neutrals
Continuing 2020’s biggest colour trend, warm neutrals that evoke a soft and comforting vibe will lead the way this year. Alongside creams, tans and soft browns, we’ll also see grey work its way into the neutral colour palette, straying a little from its formerly monochromatic look. Grey is complemented by brighter, warmer tones like honey, barley and chalk, designed to keep the space uplifting and light even with this new focus colour. Use neutral colours for the bigger pieces in your home, then accent with decorative items in an earthy brown or oatmeal.
Many interior styles suit a neutral palette, including Scandi or Japandi, coastal and traditional. Start with walls in a warm-toned white or off-white, then work in light timber furniture to lay the foundation for your other colours. Mix in shades of chalk, milk and wheat through soft furnishings including the upholstery of your sofa (this colour scheme lends itself to linen in particular), rugs, cushions and throws.
Colour Scheme #2 – Mineral Shades
Earthy colours are very much on trend in 2021, and another way these manifest themselves is through a mineral colour palette. Taking inspiration from natural elements like rock, precious stones and sand, these colours include ochre, mustard, clay pink, terracotta, charcoal, sage green and even lapis blue.
Opt for one focus colour to complement more neutral shades, and then work in the other hues through accent items like cushions, throws, rugs and seasonal bed linen. Mineral shades look absolutely gorgeous across a variety of styles, as they incorporate colour in a more subdued, relaxed way. Try a mineral palette when working with mid-century modern, contemporary or Scandi interior styles in particular – for instance, through a new mod chair in a pared-back sage or deep lapis blue.
Colour Scheme #3 – Sage
Speaking of soft sage, it appears to be the colour of the moment! It’s definitely the time for sage green to shine, as we see it pop up in interiors all over the world and in a huge range of styles. Sage is one of 2021’s biggest colour stories across design, architecture and fashion, with an optimistic feel that still harks back to natural, earthy roots.
Sage looks beautiful in a number of styles, so don’t be shy about incorporating it into your space. Sage velvet is especially eye-catching, so it’s no wonder we’ve been seeing sage bed heads and armchairs in this material. Mid-century modern interiors are the perfect home for a new sage green piece, whether it’s a statement sofa or a little pop of decor. Style it amongst like-minded colours, including shades of beige, oatmeal, earthen brown, grey-blue and rust.
Colour Scheme #4 – Outdoor – Bold Black
Let’s take things outside, shall we? One of 2021’s biggest outdoor colour trends is a bold, unflinching black. Gone are the days of soft charcoal and muted grey; black is here to make a statement in all of its dark glory. Not only does black contrast beautifully with the natural tones and greens of the outdoors, but it highlights the chic new shapes we’re currently seeing in outdoor furniture pieces.
Add some bold black to your outdoor space – whether that’s courtyard, garden or balcony – in one of two ways. If you’re all about contemporary living and clean, sleek lines, opt for an all-black furniture piece in a striking shape. For those who prefer a more laid-back look, rattan and black complement each other so well. Add in a piece that mixes the two or layer them together for a California cool vibe.
Colour Scheme #5 – Outdoor – Neutrals
In contrast to the bold black trend we’re seeing, neutrals also continue to dominate outdoors, albeit on a lesser scale. Bring your inside outside by opting for warm neutral tones like clay, oatmeal, tan and ecru in your outdoor space.
Start with white furniture frames and soft upholstery in a calming grey or linen shade. White ceramics, matte concrete and textures like travertine will complement these larger pieces, creating a grounded, relaxed feel that’ll make you want to be outside all the time. If you want to add a little colour to the space, find something a few shades brighter than your starkest neutral – an earthy pink, deep rust or soft sage will look incredible – and paint a feature wall that you’ll surround with greenery.
Need expert advice on choosing furniture colours?
Armed with all of this colour knowledge, styling a beautiful home or room in 2021 is simpler than ever. If you still need a hand selecting the perfect colours for your new furniture pieces, BROSA offer a range of virtual services including tours and consults with our team of expert designers.
If you’re located in Melbourne or Sydney, stop by one of our Studio+ showroom spaces to see all the possibilities in person. Can’t make it to a showroom? Our innovative View at Home section lets you imagine a new piece in your very own home by harnessing the power of augmented reality (AR). Try this out today and kickstart your interior styling process.
Here at BROSA, we also offer Australia-wide shipping to Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and beyond.