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It’s that time of year again: when paint companies everywhere review what’s happened over the past 12 months—from what trends have emerged to which ones have prevailed—and try to divine the shade that will define the year ahead. On Wednesday, Benjamin Moore entered the fray, offering its pick for the 2021 Color of the Year…and it’s a considerable change of pace from years past.

If Benjamin Moore’s 2020 color—a ballet slipper pink, known as First Light—signaled a bright-eyed optimism toward the new decade, its 2021 shade proves that hindsight is 20/20. Who knew the past year would have us all spending more time at home, quarantining as we rode out a pandemic? With the flurry of constant change and endless anxiety over what a “new normal” would look like, many people sought out comforting colors. Benjamin Moore is answering that call with Aegean Teal, its 2021 Color of the Year, a “sunbaked” blue green that’s as soothing as staring out at the ocean on a crisp fall day, wrapped in your coziest sweater.

It has the cheery-yet-weathered look—or, to quote the company’s Director of Color Marketing and Development, Andrea Magno, “welcoming, lived-in quality”—that you’d expect to see on the walls in a seaside cottage in a Nancy Meyers movie. It’s a color that’s been through some things but is still holding strong: resilience, pigmented and served by the gallon.

The color is also incredibly practical—blue has long been a popular paint color, but this shade feels like the less-saccharine evolution of the mint kitchens trend we saw in 2019 and early 2020.

“To me, the Color of the Year reads as a neutral, with a balance of blue and green that makes it feel rich and muted,” says Dock 6 Collection designer Zak Rose. It fits with the sink-into-them-and-escape shades that have been rising in popularity throughout the pandemic, only not quite as dark. As a result, it can complement a wider range of styles and tastes—without making a room feel cave-like.

“The Color of the Year has not always been as approachable as it is this year,” Chicago-based designer LJ Savarie added via email. “The overall aesthetic is one both approachable and relatable, and, when used in a space, it will create rooms where you want to spend time.”

Savarie suggests pairing Aegean Teal cabinetry with Gray Cashmere or Foggy Morning on the walls. It also pops against gold and copper accents (in our humble opinion). Thanks to its muted, rooted-in-nature shade, Aegean Teal is surprisingly adaptable. Kind of like you this past year, no?

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