Interiors: Add drama with shades of grey and yellow

With Louise Higgins of Aspire Design

Interiors: Add drama with shades of grey and yellow

Following on from my interiors column last week, I thought it would be a great idea to show you how to incorporate Pantone's Colour of the year 2021 in your home.

This year, international colour experts Pantone announced that two colours would take the top spot - ‘Pantone 17-5104 Ultimate Grey’ and ‘Pantone 13-0647 Illuminating’, a yellow. This grounded grey and sunny yellow work wonderfully together to create a mellow grounded interior with a touch of sunshine. Yellow symbolises positivity, happiness, energy and warmth and is a great colour choice to lift our spirits. Here are a few suggestions on how you can use these colours in your home.

Paint Your Walls

Pantones ‘Ultimate Grey’ is a fantastic choice for walls as it acts as a perfect backdrop. It’s colour makes us feel grounded, fortified and comforted in our homes. For more dramatic colour consider painting your walls or even a feature wall in Pantone’s ‘Illuminating’. This uplifting colour makes us feel optimistic and cheerful and works wonderfully when paired with Pantone’s ‘Ultimate Grey’. If painting your walls in ‘Illuminating’ be mindful of the area you are considering painting. Some areas that look great in yellow are a breakfast nook, a conservatory, playroom or home office.

Upholstered Furniture

Consider a statement chair or a pair of upholstered chairs in luxurious golden velvet or a patterned soft brushed cotton with a geometric print. For bedrooms, consider an upholstered headboard in ochre or mustard against a wall painted in ‘Ultimate Grey’. Finish with complimentary scatter cushions and a luxurious throw.

Painted Furniture

For a contemporary update you could consider painting a piece of furniture in a bright yellow. Items of furniture to consider include a dresser, bookcase, coffee table or bedside cabinet as these would look fantastic as a statement piece in your room.


If you prefer a constrained use of yellow in your home, then there are lots of decorative accessories and ornaments that you can use instead of painting your walls yellow. For example, adding a vase of daffodils or tulips, a sunny yellow lamp shade, adding a yellow rug or some statement artwork.

Soft Furnishings

If you are feeling a little braver, then you can make a dramatic impact by adding yellow patterned curtains to create a contrast over grey walls. Adding a throw to your sofa or bed and updating your scatter cushions is another simple way to introduce these colours.

Kitchen Updates

For your kitchen, create a dramatic focal point by adding a splashback in a yellow tile. For a more subtle use of ‘illuminating’, consider updating smaller kitchen appliances such as your kettle, toaster, blender etc in sunny yellow.

Playing with Pattern

If you find using a block colour of yellow too powerful and plain grey too simple, then you could consider using a patterned fabric containing both colours. For example, stripes, florals or geometric patterns. Areas in your home where you can introduce pattern are curtain fabrics, upholstery, wallpaper, tiles or rugs.

Thanks for taking the time to read my interiors column and I hope you have some fun adding Pantone's colour of the year 2021 to your home. Remember if there is a topic that you would like covered in a future column then please drop me a line with your suggestions.

Louise is a former winner of TV3’s Showhouse Showdown. Contact 086 3999926; email;

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