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Introducing Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020: Classic Blue

Pantone’s color of the year for 2020 is a classic comeback story, literally: it’s Classic Blue! Classic Blue is an almost-but-not-quite primary blue that you might have noticed regaining popularity in late 2019, and the same blue that’s touted as having a calming effect on the mind. And that’s exactly the reason Pantone cites for choosing the color – that 2020 should be a year to take a calming breath, re-center our thoughts, and find comfort in something simple and familiar. Blue has long been a staple of the design world, which makes it familiar, but this shade is meant to combine that sense of history with a soothing depth and invigorating and inspiring brightness. But how can you make the color work in your home?

The Quick Change: Updating Your Linens For The New Year

Changing out only a room's linens - throw pillows, area rugs, and curtains - can have a big impact when you opt for a bold color like Classic Blue (by Flagg Coastal Homes)
Changing out only a room’s linens – throw pillows, area rugs, and curtains – can have a big impact when you opt for a bold color like Classic Blue (by Flagg Coastal Homes)

Compared to Pantone’s choices in recent years, at a glance Classic Blue seems like a very easy color to integrate into your decor. After all, who doesn’t like blue? But like 2018’s Ultra Violet, it’s a deep, rich color, and a little can go a long way. For a quick facelift, you really can just swap out your linens and a few extra accents. Especially if most of your room is neutral-toned (walls/floor/furniture), a few Classic Blue pillows and trinkets (like vases or table lamps) will make your space pop. You want to be sure to decorate with care, though, because there very much is such a thing as too much blue. Over-accessorize and you can easily end up with an accidental beachside/Cape Cod look, or worse a too-primary kid’s room color scheme.

Make It A Feature: Choose Classic Blue Accent Furniture

A single piece of Classic Blue furniture can add a bold statement to any room, and luxurious blue sofas are a popular way to do it (ft Adept Sofa)
A single piece of Classic Blue furniture can add a bold statement to any room, and luxurious blue sofas are a popular way to do it (ft. Adept Sofa)

Of course, while I recommend using a relatively light touch with any trendy color (after all, every Pantone choice technically has a one-year shelf life), Classic Blue is a much more timeless shade than most, and certainly one that’s been building up momentum lately. In light of that, I would say: don’t be afraid to choose furniture in this bold blue if you’re looking to upgrade or replace anyway. Blue velvet sofas are already hugely trendy (and don’t seem to be losing traction), but even a few blue accent chairs (upholstered or plastic) are a great way to brighten up and highlight the rest of your decor.

A Weekend Project: Pull Out A Paintbrush

Denim-colored wallpaper is a particularly popular iteration of Classic Blue for use on the walls (by Chelsea Lauren Interiors)
Denim-colored wallpaper is a particularly popular iteration of Classic Blue for use on the walls (by Chelsea Lauren Interiors)

Hands down the safest way to jump on any color trend train is with a bucket of paint and a little elbow grease, and this is particularly true with Classic Blue. It’s a shade that scales up better than most. Whether you’re painting a bookshelf, your paneling, an accent wall, or a whole room, Classic Blue is bright enough to be eye catching and just dark and deep enough not to feel glaring in large quantities. That said, if you’re nervous about it, opt for a slightly darker tone or shade (added gray or black) to mellow the color out a little. If you want a slightly more involved project, textured wallpaper in Classic Blue (or a nearby denimy hue) has also become a very popular option.

Commit To Classic Blue: Refacing Your Cabinets

Even before Pantone announced their color of the year for 2020, Classic Blue was a popular choice for adding color to a white kitchen (by Studio Dearborn)
Even before Pantone announced their color of the year for 2020, Classic Blue was a popular choice for adding color to a white kitchen (by Studio Dearborn)

2019 saw the downfall of the all-white kitchen, and one of the biggest remedies for this too-light color scheme was a simple supplement: blue accent cabinets or kitchen islands. Resurfacing cabinets is a whole lot easier than replacing, and white cabinets are particularly easy to paint over, which makes this project an intuitive way to add a little splash of color to your kitchen. I’ve seen plenty of people even opt for entirely Classic Blue cabinets, but if you’d like to keep a little white in your kitchen, you only need to paint either your upper or bottom cabinets or your kitchen island. It’s just enough to counteract an overabundance of white (and really transform the look of your space) without breaking your budget. Bonus: this trick also works in your bathroom, as evidenced by the rising availability of blue bathroom vanities.

Make Your Exterior Pop With A Classic Blue Door And Shutters

A bright blue front door can make your home feel instantly energized and inviting, and it's a project you can easily pull off yourself (by Glenn Layton Homes)
A bright blue front door can make your home feel instantly energized and inviting, and it’s a project you can easily pull off yourself (by Glenn Layton Homes)

Red has been a long-standing favorite color choice for accenting the outside of your home, particularly front doors, shutters, and even garden gates. It’s effective because it’s a primary color – bright, vibrant, visible from a distance, and distinctly different from the probably-neutral tones elsewhere on the exterior of your house. But Classic Blue can easily take its place for those exact reasons, and if I’m being honest it might be my favorite place this color is popping up. It’s a super simple, totally DIY-friendly project that’s perfect for a mild spring day. More than that, it’s a great way to perk up the exterior home and give the front face a little touch of playfulness and personality – which can really enhance your home’s curb appeal without having to go all-in for a big refacing, painting, or landscaping project.

Love Classic Blue? Layer It!

You can get away with decorating a room almost entirly in Classic Blue, as long as you include at least one other element to keep the color from overwhelming the space (by MAC Building Solutions)
You can get away with decorating a room almost entirely in Classic Blue, as long as you include at least one other element to keep the color from overwhelming the space (by MAC Building Solutions)

All that said, for maybe the first time since I’ve been covering Pantone’s color of the year, I feel good about issuing this particular edict: if you really love Classic Blue, don’t be afraid to go wild with it. Paint, big furniture, small accents, the whole nine yards – if you love it, this is one Pantone choice you can actually get away with doing on a large scale without feeling like you’ll have to do a big remodel nine months down the road. The caveat? Make sure you have something to break up the blue. Whether it’s wood furniture, white curtains, bright yellow pillows, or a red-based oriental rug, it’s important to leave yourself room to take a breath. Mixing slightly different shades, textures, and patterns can also help you get away with a decor that’s heavy on the blue; you’ll get lots of that calming feel, but without feeling like you dipped your whole home in a big tin of blue paint!

Classic Blue is unique in Pantone’s recent history of color-of-the-year choices in that it’s, well, classic! So if you’re looking for a simple, soothing color that’s both on-trend and timeless, don’t be afraid to pick one of these projects and shape them around this bright, beautiful shade of blue.