First came the fidget spinners and weighted blankets, then Taylor Swift spelled it out for us in her recent earworm—but for everyone who really, truly needs to calm down, you may want to bust out a gallon of paint. No, really. If major brands’ 2020 color trend forecasts are any indication, we’re all searching for a moment of zen, and the hottest shades of the new decade will (hopefully) help us get there.
“The use of color in interior design is changing. It’s not just about what a space looks like anymore, but how it makes you feel,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. "The world is a hectic place, and color has the power to mitigate outside stress and shape our day-to-day environments and overall mood."
If you’re searching for something a little more soothing—and considering a 2019 Gallup poll found Americans are some of the most stressed-out people in the world, it’s likely—finding the right shade for you may depend on what helps you unwind. And fits your aesthetic, of course.
1. Nature-Inspired Neutrals
Behr was first to declare its 2020 Color of the Year, leaning into the urge to simplify with “Back to Nature,” a mellow meadow green. It falls in line with the classic decorating adage to “bring the outdoors in,” making it a good fit for plant lovers and wannabes alike (hey, you can’t kill paint!). And it falls in line with rising interest stateside in shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept of forest bathing, where you stroll amid nature, taking in your surroundings. Living in a concrete jungle? The thought of hiking makes you instinctively swat at mosquitoes? Simply paint your walls and find nirvana! OK, OK, it may not be as effective as a breath of fresh air, but Erika Woelfel, vice president of color and creative services, says drenching a room in nature’s neutral can “make a small space feel more open and airy.”
2. Dark Blues
If you prefer a moodier space to help drown out the noise around you, consider a deep, dark blue. Sherwin-Williams recommends Naval, a rich shade that’s reminiscent of the night sky. It can create a cocooning effect in a room, providing a sense of escape from our blue light-filled lives. “Pair Naval with natural materials, such as warm leather tones, vibrant greenery and woven fiber rugs, to create a calming oasis,” Wadden says.
Sherwin-Williams isn't the only company that stands behind rich blue tones. Pantone's 2020 Color of the Year, "Classic Blue," was chosen for its ability to invoke a sense of "calm" and "confidence," Laurie Pressman, VP of the Pantone Color Institute, said when announcing the shade. It's a laid-back contrast to the punchier, in-your-face shades the institute's picked over the past two years: Living Coral (2019) and Ultra Violet (2018).
3. Ballet Slipper Pink
A cool-toned gray, like Benjamin Moore’s Metropolitan (its 2019 Color of the Year) is a safe bet for the color-averse. The paint company leaned into calming colors last year, and while they aren’t going away anytime soon, they’re predicting the rise of a shade that’s a little more upbeat: “First Light,” a soft, ballet slipper pink that’s designed to cast the room in a rosy glow.
“It’s easy to live with, and easy to love,” says Hannah Yeo, the brand’s color marketing and development manager, explaining that it’s subtle enough that it won’t compete with your existing décor, but it still feels fresh and uplifting. Try this color anywhere you could use a pick-me-up, like the bathroom you trudge into each morning to start your day.
While the colors themselves run the gamut, it seems we’re all searching for the same thing. Maybe you can find it in a paint color. Maybe you can achieve it with a massage and a great glass of rosé (especially if the thought of staring at swatches stresses you out).