Coral reefs inspired the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year.


Every year, Pantone sets color trends for fashion and home decor. For 2019, that color is Living Coral, a mix of pink, orange and red.

Get ready for your living room (or bedroom, bathroom or dining room) to head to the bottom of the sea! At least that’s what Pantone is recommending with its selection of Living Coral as its 2019 Color of the Year.

Pantone has been announcing its annual color for 20 years based on trends and current influences. This year’s nature-inspired color – technically known as Pantone 16-1546 – was chosen to counteract the sense of disconnection people may be feeling in our highly digitized world. As Pantone explains it, the mix of pink, orange and red “embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.”

Good to know if you’re one to consider the state of the world in your home décor. If (like most of us) you’re simply ready for a change, what’s most important is if this “life-affirming” color works for you at all and the best way to bring it into your home if it does. We have a few suggestions.

Neutrals help soften the punch of bold coral tones.
Golden drapes and off-white fabrics tone down the bold, coral walls. (Photo property of Durante Atelier Interior Design.)

Go bold to energize a room!
Feeling brave? You’ll instantly create a vibrant atmosphere in any room by painting the walls coral. The effect will vary depending on the other colors you infuse into the room and whether you use a bright or muted shade. The decorating web magazine Decoist notes that the warmer, brighter versions of coral (those that lean a bit more toward orange) are especially energizing, so they work well in food-centered parts of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen.

If you find the color to be a bit too bold once you’re done painting, not to worry! SFGATE recommends applying a glaze with a ragging or sponging technique to soften the look. Go for a lighter shade in the same coral family if you simply want to decrease the brightness. For a vintage look, use a dark brown glaze instead.

Tone it down with a whiter shade of pale.
To create a calmer vibe in a quiet space like a bedroom or living area, use more subdued coral variations – those tinted with a bit more white or those that lean toward pink. Tone-on-tone combinations, or “monchromatic schemes,” create a subtle, pulled-together look. Be sure to vary textures and patterns in the room to add some interest.

Bring back that ocean feeling.
Combining red-orange coral with blue-green colors like turquoise, mint or teal is an easy way to create a tropical feeling (think sunset over the sea – ahhhh…). Coral combined with navy blue, particular if you add white accents, will give you a nautical look.

Be aware, however, that red-orange and blue-green are complementary colors (across from each other on the color wheel). This means they will appear brighter when used together. To avoid feeling like you need sunscreen to enter the room, use one of the two colors sparingly, or choose a lighter shade of one or both hues.

Start small by incorporating coral into your table setting.
Start small by incorporating coral into your table setting.

Give it a rest (with neutral colors).
Neutral colors provide a visual rest that can help to soften a bold color like coral. Generally, you would use neutral colors to form your foundation (walls, floors and most furniture). Coral accents then provide “pops” of color that stand out nicely. Consider using beige tan and deep browns like chocolate, which bring out coral’s yellow undertones. Or go with a cool charcoal gray to contrast with the warmth of coral. If the coral hue dominates the room, you can balance it out with accent pieces in neutral colors. Colors like tan and brown will create depth. Ivory or beige will help to lighten things up.

Take it slow.
Not sure how you’ll feel with all that coral? Start small. Add a couple of coral candles to your living room. Replace kitchen towels or a tablecloth. Or repaint small pieces with coral paint. You can even address that “disconnection” referenced by Pantone by getting together with some neighbors for a craft painting day. Everyone can bring small household items like flower pots or candlesticks for a Color of the Year afternoon party! Continue the theme with coral-colored decorations and food. (Smoked salmon, anyone?)

Choose a different trend.
If coral simply doesn’t do it for you but you like the idea of adopting a new trend, check out these 2019 color picks:

  • A deep green called Night Watch (PPG1145-7) is PPG Paints’ choice for 2019. The company says it selected this color “to emulate the feeling of lush greenery and the healing power of nature.”
  • Benjamin Moore’s color of the year is a soft gray it named Metropolitan (AF-690). According to Ellen O’Neill, the company’s director of strategic design intelligence, “This understated yet glamorous gray creates a soothing, impactful common ground.”
  • Sherwin-Williams went with a color it calls Cavern Clay (SW 7701), a kind of terra cotta that it refers to as “a nod to midcentury modern style, but with the soul of the American Southwest.”
  • Taking the bar up a notch (or 12!), Valspar came up with not just 1 but 12 colors of the year. We won’t list them all here, but you can see them on House Beautiful’s blog.

Yep, 2019 certainly promises to be a bright and colorful year!