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Pantone Colour of the Year 2021 - Illuminating and Ultimate Grey

For 2021, Pantone have announced that their Colour of the Year is a marriage of two colours: Ultimate Grey and Illuminating. Together the colours convey resilience and optimism, an apt combination for what is shaping up to be another unusual year.

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Grey and yellow are both popular colours for home interiors at the moment and are frequently used in combination. So, what’s great about these two colours, and how should you use them together?


Grey is a cool, relaxing colour so it doesn’t overwhelm easily. That said, it’s a good idea to balance a grey room with a splash of an accent colour. The good news is that grey works with plenty of colours, including bright, daring hues you might be hesitant to use in large doses. A room that is predominantly grey can be spiced up with yellow, orange, pink, blue, green and even multicolour patterns and not only retain its style but look even better for that small infusion of colour.

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Because of this versatility, grey furniture can double up as a cost-effective choice, because it can be easily updated with accessories. For example, a grey divan can be dressed with new throws, cushions or bed covers. Grey upholstery also conceals stains well, giving a grey fabric sofa greater longevity. Grey is also versatile across different styles, with lighter and more silvery tones being more feminine and darker tones being more masculine. Silvery tones are perfect for glamorous contemporary classic sofas. A dark grey leather sofa fits in perfectly with an industrial style living room.

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Grey is also a popular colour for cabinet furniture. Painted grey dining tables create an elegant farmhouse look, while high gloss grey bedroom furniture gives your bedroom a modern, sophisticated feel.


Sunny and bright, yellow draws the eye and livens up the space. Because of its strong impact, it is generally used sparingly and makes an excellent accent colour. It is commonly seen in accessories for this reason, mixed into patterned rugs, curtains, throws, scatters and wall art. Although it is most often used in small amounts, a bigger piece of furniture, like a yellow sofa or yellow divan, makes a fabulous statement piece.

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The colour yellow is used for casual, classic and modern styling. The shade of yellow used and the way it is applied will differ depending on the style.

  • Mustard, ochre and gold hues are popular for classic style furniture. Deep, moody colours are in vogue, so adding a yellow velvet accent chair will brighten up the room.
  • For casual style rooms, yellow scatters are a common choice. Yellow may also be used in patterned fabric accent chairs. Pale yellows and ochre are go-to shades for this style.
  • A leather yellow accent chair is great for a modern living room, although yellow velvets are becoming popular in this style, too. As for the shade? The brighter the better! A yellow accent piece creates a colourful focal point in a monochrome scheme and brings warmth to metal, marble and high gloss finishes.

How to use a grey and yellow colour scheme

Grey and yellow create a solid combination, so it’s no wonder they have been brought together so frequently over the past few years. The yellow uplifts the grey, while the grey grounds the yellow, creating a fun but practical scheme for everyday living. Neither dull nor overwhelming, it lets just enough personality come through.

If you take grey as your main colour and use yellow to accent it, it’s easy to create an effortlessly stylish room. Accent a grey sofa collection with a yellow accent chair and scatters, or a grey divan bed with yellow pillows, yellow scatters, a yellow runner or a yellow sheet. Bring colour to grey walls with a yellow picture or painting, or with a yellow clock or ceiling light.

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Because of grey’s versatility, the yellow-grey combination is quite safe: there’s no risk of the colours clashing, so it’s hard to get it ‘wrong’. If you find you’ve got too much grey or too much yellow, you can easily course-correct by adding or removing yellow accessories as needed.

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