Understanding the 2018 Colors of the Year

Young creative designers holding and looking at color samples. Plastic cup, laptop and work tools on desk. As background windows, shelves with boxes and folders, desk and seats, part of a bike.

There are so many colors of the year, it’s hard to make sense of it all.

In late 2015, you no doubt noticed that packaging, emails, consumer products all turned pink.

No, it wasn’t because everyone was suddenly celebrating breast cancer awareness (although some took advantage of the color choice to do so). It’s because Pantone’s 2016 color of the year was Rose Quartz.

Recently, the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year was announced — Ultra Violet, a shade of purple, chosen, according to Pantone, because it “communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking.”

At the same time, Glidden, Sherwin Williams, Behr and Benjamin Moore also announced their 2018 colors of the year — Dark Onyx, Oceanside, In the Moment and Caliente, respectively.

While the announcements of colors of the year may have made headlines at the time, most of us were asking what the big deal is. Why should we care about the colors of the year? How can we take advantage of the colors of the year to turn up the heat on your current decorating palette? The answers to these questions will make a difference in your decorating decisions not only for the next year, but for the foreseeable future.

The 2018 Colors of the Year

Each of the Big Four paint companies has their own color of the year. It makes sense, because each is trying to differentiate themselves from the others to set trends. Let’s take a look at each of the four colors:

Dark Onyx by Glidden

Glidden took a stand for minimalism with their choice of Dark Onyx. Why? Because prior to this announcement, it was known as Classic Black. That’s right. Glidden chose black as their color of the year, but with good reason. Misty Yeomans, marketing director for PPG, which owns Glidden, said in a news release that “black can be overlooked as a neutral color, but … the sense of ease and authenticity it brings to a home can’t be denied. Just like a little black dress, Deep Onyx is a classic, timeless staple.”

Oceanside by Sherwin Williams

Sherwin Williams went dark as well, with the choice of a color that combines deep hues of blue and green to make Oceanside. The deep color and rich hues of Oceanside are inspired by the ocean. Imagine sitting on the beach, looking out into the water, it’s undulating blues and greens helping you forget the cares of the day. That’s the feeling Sherwin Williams is hoping you’ll have when you include Oceanside in your home’s color palette. “Its green-meets-blue tone can also boost creative thinking and clarity of thought in a home office, or invite meditation and introspection into a bedroom or reading nook,” their spokesperson said in a news release.

In the Moment by Behr

Behr, on the other hand, has bucked the trend of bolder colors and has chosen In the Moment, a softer shade of Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside, with more green tones mixed with a softer blue and just a hint of grey. Why this color? According to a news release, “This comfortable color evokes a sense of sanctuary and relaxation amid our busy, always-on lives. In name and color, this hue speaks to our desire to take a break, be present and recharge.” The color’s undertones are deep, with just the right hint of brightness on top to bring a spark of creativity into a home office or living room, especially when matched with white woodwork around the windows and in molding/baseboards.

Caliente by Benjamin Moore

If Behr is going for more subdued tones, Benjamin Moore takes a totally different tack from the others with the bright, bold and beautiful Caliente, a brilliant red that makes you want to dance. Ellen O’Neill, from Benjamin Moore, said in a news release that “Caliente is the signature color of a modern architectural masterpiece; a lush carpet rolled out for a grand arrival; the assured backdrop for a book-lined library; a powerful first impression on a glossy front door. The eye can’t help but follow its bold strokes. Harness the vitality.” And vitality is definitely the first word that comes to mind when looking at Caliente on that front door.

Color, Color Everywhere

You might be asking yourself, “Why should I care about what color these paint companies choose for the year?” The answer is simple — because you’re going to be seeing a lot of them in the coming year or so.

You might recognize some of the more popular colors in the items you see in big box home goods stores or paint stores over the last few years — various shades of the pinky Rose Quartz, the soft blue of Serenity, green tones with Greenery or the sunny Gen Z Yellow. All have been chosen as colors of the year.

Think back to the 1970s, when the colors chosen would become forever marked as old-fashioned and dated — avocado green, harvest gold, cerulean blue and sunflower yellow. At the time they were chosen by the different paint companies, they were new and fresh, just right for the shockwaves going through the country at the time.

Today, the color palettes are more universal and less apt to become dated quickly, which is why these color choices are going to change the way we look at our own home color palettes.

How to Use the Colors of the Year at Home

Not everyone will embrace the 2018 colors of the year in their homes, as individual tastes vary so widely. Choosing a color for your home is deeply personal, so when selecting a color palette, here are some tips on making your colors your own:

Don’t be afraid to defy tradition.

Often, when choosing a color palette for your home, it’s easy to choose bland neutral colors because they go with everything. Instead, be brave and go bold. If you live in an area where the sun is a rarity, such as in the Pacific Northwest, go with yellows and greens, like Behr’s In the Moment, to bring brightness into your home. On the other hand, if you live in the Southwest, you don’t have to automatically choose terracotta or other sandy colors; rich blues and greens, like Sherwin Williams’ Oceanside, will switch things up and make your home feel richer.

Choose subtle colors for your home’s exterior with one flash of color.


Bright colors on the exterior of a home can hurt the home’s street appeal. While getting rid of neutrals on the interior of your home is the best way to show your individuality, neutrals on the exterior makes your home more inviting. If you go that route, though, you should add a splash of color — use Benjamin Moore’s Caliente for just the right vibrance, say on your front door or on window trim.

Set a mood.

How do you want your home to feel when you walk into it? Do you want it comforting and warm? Go for shades of yellow, green and blue. Are there certain rooms you want to feel dramatic? Add a deep red or maroon accent wall or go all out with a deeper, darker color, like Glidden’s Deep Onyx, accented with white molding.

Create balance.

To make your house feel like home, balance is essential. Create your individual color palette with balance in mind, with deeper, darker colors balanced by creamy neutrals in strategic areas of the home, such as bathrooms, closets, baseboards and woodwork. If your palette is neutral, use darker woods for your flooring and cabinets.

Will you embrace Ultra Violet or the other 2018 colors of the year? Whichever way you go, you’ll be creating a color palette to match your lifestyle You’ll either love it or hate it, but make sure it’s all you.
Laurie Leiker is a published author, business coach and consumer advocate. She spent 10 years as producer and on-air investigator for the Troubleshooter Tom Martino radio show in Denver, Colo., where she helped consumers get back more than $2 million in one year.

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