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Introducing Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2022: Very Peri

My breakdown of Pantone’s color of the year pick for 2022 is coming to you a little late this year for one simple reason: I’m not a huge fan of Periwinkle. I lived in a house painted almost the exact same shade as Pantone’s Very Peri for years, and know all its pitfalls; it turns bland and gray in low light, is a little too pink to match with most blues, and is more neutral than vivacious and energizing. That said, I’ve started seeing designers doing some really fun things with the color. So, this year, my advice is really from the heart: here are six tips for decorating with Pantone’s color of the year for 2022 that will win over the skeptics!

Don’t Paint Your Walls

An image of a brightly lit laundry room with periwinkle walls that turn shadowy beneath the white cabinets.
You can get away with periwinkle paint in very bright, white spaces – but even here you can see how the color changes below the cabinets (by Ronda Royalty)

I’ve been following Pantone’s color of the year picks for a long time now, and I can say with confidence: it’s almost never a color you want to paint an entire room in. Very Peri seems like it should be the exception; unlike the bold purple and fuchsia tones they’ve chosen in years past, it’s a soft, neutral-seeming pastel that wouldn’t overwhelm a room. But that’s sort of the problem: periwinkle paint is often underwhelming, especially in rooms with little natural light or dim artificial light. Periwinkle looks its best in bright, vivid daylight, and often ends up muddy and shadowy when used for a whole room. It’s also quite a changeable color, skewing more purple or more blue depending on the time of day, which can make it challenging to accessorize. So if you love Pantone’s 2022 pick, don’t be tempted to (literally) plaster your walls with it.

Get More Mileage From Less Paint

An image of a home office with a vertical stripe of bright periwinkle painted on the wall, and a built-in bookshelf in a darker gray tone of the color.
In smaller doses – or with a little more or less gray – Very Peri can be a spunky and vivacious accent (by DLArchitecture)

Pantone’s pitch for Veri Peri is that it represents creativity and curiosity – a blending of “reality” and digital spaces that create a hopeful horizon for the future. But I’m going to be frank: used with a heavy hand, it’s a half tint from a very grandmotherly lavender, and a tone or two from the monotonous blue-grays we’re all sick of. The more periwinkle in a room, the less effective it is; it needs a light touch – and a good dose of contrast – to shine. Incorporating white, black, and shades of gray elsewhere in the room helps bring out the brightness of the blue. Brightening the color with a touch of white or blue (rather than gray) also has a tremendous effect, letting the blue stand out in direct light and the subtle purple hues come through further away from the light source.

If You Can’t Take The Heat… Repaint Your Kitchen Cabinets

A wide angle image of a wood-floored greatroom. The kitchen island, dining chairs, and sofa are all a cheerful periwinkle blue.
With more personality than a pure grey and less risk than a bold blue, Very Peri is a great choice for giving your kitchen a subtle injection of energy (by Meghan Carter Design)

The one unexpected place that I’ll concede that Very Peri shines is in the kitchen. A lot of us jumped on the trend train a few years back and painted our kitchens head to toe in gray. Now, almost everyone agrees it was a terrible idea, but no one can quite agree how to fix it. Colorful kitchen islands are a popular choice for reclaiming a little color in white or gray kitchens. Classic blue is at the forefront of this trend (along with teal and forest green), but periwinkle is a fun alternative. A subtle mix of blue, purple, and gray, Very Peri is livelier than white or gray, but less dramatic than a primary color or jewel tone. Bonus points for offsetting it with warm wood, gold or matte black hardware, and white paint.

Take It Outside!

An image of a sunny front porch. The window shutters, shades, ceiling of the overhang, and outdoor furniture are all various shades of periwinkle.
Very Peri does best as an exterior paint – for doors, trim, shutters, and outdoor furniture that catches a lot of sunlight (by T.S. Adams Studio)

Of course, those are the rules for indoor paint. But by far the most appealing uses of Very Peri that I’ve seen are exterior applications. Painted front doors are a fun DIY project (and perfect for a warm, dry spring or early summer weekend), and I was surprised to find how much I like the look of a periwinkle door. Typically, if you want your front door to stand out, you paint it a bold primary – usually red, or (you guessed it) Classic Blue. But Very Peri has just enough pep to make your front entrance seem cheery and inviting – but neutral enough not to anger your HOA. Really love the color? It looks great on exterior trim, shutters, and even outdoor furniture, too. Periwinkle is at its best in full sunlight, bringing a breezy, early-spring freshness.

File It Under: Tile Project

An image of a bright white cottage style bathroom. The white subway tile is trimmed with cheerful periwinkle runner tile.
Periwinkle is a chameleon color, but that’s not a bad thing – it means you can fine-tune the look you want by adjusting the surrounding decor (by Alison Kandler Interior Design)

So: what if you’d rather not pick up a paintbrush this year? It might be time to start thinking tile. Pantone’s color of the year for 2022 has been a popular color for tile backsplashes since well before they picked it. Occupying the same general color family as gray-veined Carrara marble, Very Peri walks the line between a soft, elegant gray and a pre-dawn sky blue. That means you have some wiggle room for getting the impact you want. As a trim against white tile, it’s a bright, cheerful color; paired with silvery grays and white marble, it has a softer, more sophisticated feel.

A Fabulous Fabric Finish

An image of a gray -toned bedroom with a periwinkle blue accent chair that stands out cheerfully against the patterned gray wallpaper.
A few linens – like sheets, an area rug, or towels – or velvet upholstered furniture will get you the most bang for your buck, and let Very Peri shine without becoming muddied (by Lucy Harris Studio)

If painting is out for most DIY-able surfaces, the best way to stay on-trend without a major remodel is with accent furniture and fabrics. And Very Peri? Actually knocks it out of the park when it comes to upholstery – especially velvet chairs, beds, loveseats, and sofas. Periwinkle velvet is more neutral than popular navy or ivy green, which makes it a safer choice for big ticket items. That said, smaller accents – like curtains, towels, and throw pillows – are an inexpensive way to add just a dab of color to a monochromatic room. The biggest problem? You’ll rarely find the word “periwinkle” in a product description. Rather, you’ll find the color lumped into a bigger color family: usually gray, blue, or sometimes purple. That means it can take a careful eye and some pointed curating to find (and match) fabrics that are actually the color you want.

The biggest danger of decorating with periwinkle is the same as the pitfalls of all-gray decors: use too much, without enough variation, and you’ll end up with a low-contrast, muddy-looking space. To make the look work, a little bit of contrast is a must. Whether it’s using a little dab of Very Peri to add color to a neutral backdrop, or setting off larger blocks of color with bright white, warm wood, or plenty of light.