Pantone is stepping outside the box in 2021.

For the first time in 20 years, the color institute named two colors for its pick of the year: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a soft yellow).

It’s “a marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting,” according to

“The Pantone colors of the year are used to invoke feelings,” said Gina Jacobson of CL Designs in Duluth.

“Whatever we hope the mood will be in our spaces is influenced by what we surround ourselves with. … Wherever we want a grounded area, incorporate Ultimate Gray; for a light, positive sense, Illuminating,” she added by email.

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The Pantone Color Institute is a consulting service that forecasts color trends across the world, and the pick influences product development home furnishings, industrial design and more.

Past years have featured greenery, rose quartz and honeysuckle.

Jacobson recommended using Illuminating in a child’s room and Ultimate Gray in a commercial space.

As a whole, 2021 welcomes elevated home organization, more nontoxic products and interiors that support emotional and mental health — and Pantone’s colors may help with the latter, she said.