Pantone's colour of year: how to make Classic Blue work for your home

For maximum effect, team the colour with paler, nature-inspired shades such as sand, bark, chalk and dove grey; or play up the luxe element with gold and other metallics

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We've had soft and gentle Rose Quartz, ­nature-inspired Greenery, eye-popping Ultra Violet and even the exotically named Living Coral. Now it's time for the latest Pantone colour of the year and for 2020, we've got Classic Blue.

At first you might feel a little underwhelmed by the choice. After all, this is not a hue that shouts excitement and drama – quite the opposite. But that's exactly the point, according to the colour experts at Pantone.

“Instilling calm, confidence, and connection,” their announcement reads, “this enduring blue hue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”

Why Classic Blue?

Ideal for the beginning of a new decade, Classic Blue is designed to be reassuring in its timelessness. “We are living in a time that requires trust and faith,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “It is this kind of constancy and confidence that is expressed by Pantone 19-405 Classic Blue, a solid and dependable blue hue we can always rely on.”

This image released by Pantone shows a classic blue color swatch. The Pantone Color Institute has named Classic Blue as its color of the year for 2020.  (Pantone via AP)
The Pantone Colour Institute has named Classic Blue as its colour of the year for 2020. Photo: Pantone via AP

Colour psychology experts say blue is calming, bringing tranquillity and a sense of stability – just what we need after a few years of political, social and economic turbulence and uncertainty. Karen Haller, author of The Little Book of Colour, which was recently named one of The Sunday Times's Top 10 Design books for 2019, says: "When it comes to the psychology of colour, the darker end of blue connects us with logic, rationale and reasoning, which is possibly what many of us are trying to do given the state we find the economy and politics in.

“We are trying to make sense of what is going on. Dark blue helps us to mentally focus, challenging us to think more deeply, and opens the flow of communication, [promoting] trust and loyalty.”

What the style experts say

Interior designer Jess Sawyer from Dubai describes Pantone's latest choice as a classic, dependable and usable colour across the home. "It's a hue I can see transforming tired kitchen cupboards or an old sideboard or bench that needs a new lease of life," she says. "Simply styled with a plant and touches of green, these will become statement pieces. It's a classic colour that will never tire."

Tanya Ivin Karam, an interior designer who runs the Interior Takeover channel on YouTube, says she is excited by the colour choice. “Classic Blue is such a rich, bold and warm colour all at once. It’s one I’ve recently fallen in love with and have already started incorporating in so many types of interiors. I’m currently giving my son’s room a revamp with Classic Blue, including it as bold curtains and paint accents.

“It also looks fantastic as a solid sofa colour, whether in a velvet texture or more natural fabric, and looks great in a chic office space with hints of brushed gold. [It’s] a powerful colour to kick off the decade.”

Blue in your home

Designers and retailers have been quick to jump on the Classic Blue bandwagon, so there are already plenty of options if you want to treat your space to a new look for 2020. There are three areas that lend themselves particularly well to this shade.

First, get your roller and brushes out and paint a wall or two. It might feel way too strong, but using rich, bold colours on walls can actually make a room feel cosy, luxurious and comforting. The key is to balance this with furniture and accessories that have paler hues, and plenty of natural lighting.

Another option is to go big with a classic-blue velvet sofa or, if you’re not in the market for a new one, an occasional chair for the living room or bedroom. Some of the options available lean towards a luxe look, with fancy gold French styling, but there are also streamlined versions in stores, with clean lines and slender, midcentury wooden legs.

Finally, look to your lighting for an easy and inexpensive way to add Classic Blue into your home without having to redecorate. From satin ceiling pendants to terrazzo-inspired table lamps, there are some unusual options on the market at the moment.

Colour pairing

Classic Blue goes with almost all other shades, making it an incredibly versatile choice. However, for maximum effect, team with paler, nature-inspired colours such as sand, bark, chalk and dove grey. Think stripped wooden flooring, a pale cream rug, and plenty of plants and mirrors to reflect light around.

Playing up the luxe element, gold and other metallics also work well. This can be echoed in other light-reflecting surfaces, such as glossy polished wood, or fabrics such as satin and silk. A combination of metallic / reflective and matte, natural textures such as linen and wool will give your theme some depth.

Also try contrasting Classic Blue with warm mustard and a touch of grey for a retro feel; add last year’s Living Coral and a sandy neutral for a more coastal vibe; or go wild with vivid neon pops.

Make it multisensory

This year, Pantone partnered with Huge Inc to bring its Classic Blue to life and make it more than a visual tool for your home. Suggestions include listening to a Classic Blue playlist and cooking with flavours that "explore the idea of maturity through ripening", so if you want to really immerse yourself in this trend then there are plenty of options.

For most of us, though, the element of texture is probably easier to incorporate in the home. For Classic Blue, opt for soft, velvety textures that emphasise the calming quality of the colour. Velvet has been popular for a few years now, so you should find plenty in the shops, whether you want to dip your toe in with a blue velvet throw cushion, snuggle up in a big velvety blanket or switch out your sofa for something altogether more dramatic.

You can also bring a Classic Blue scent into your home, with the help of candles and reed diffusers fragranced with blue water and sea salt. Again, this will add to the calm feel of your space, bringing those pure, organic scents together with the visuals to help you stop for a moment, and connect with the tranquillity and timelessness conveyed by the colour of the evening sky.