Getting in Touch with Pantone’s Color Harmonies

Most of you know that Pantone introduces one impactful Color of the Year, (for short: COTY) and this year that color was:

Unlike the trend in neutrals, Ultra Violet is all about making a bold design statement!

Being the mecca for color that they are, Pantone doesn’t leave us hanging there. They provide online resources for designers through a series of color stories that help bring the COTY into designs in subtle or bold ways. Each color story includes eight colors for a wide range of emotive responses.

Pantone’s 2018 Color Palettes


As you can see, Ultra Violet lives within each color story so you can observe the various moods identified for the COTY. Each represents a different vibe – some are striking and trendy and others are earthy and sophisticated. Taking it one step further, Pantone also presents three Color Harmony subgroups derived from each color story. The color harmonies show how a few colors from the eight within the color story can be used together and in what proportion. Here’s an example of a Color Harmony from the Purple Haze color story.

Purple Haze Color Story


Purple Haze Color Harmoniespantone-color-of-the-year-2018-palette-purple-haze-harmonies


I appreciate how the sub-groups help me quickly hone in on identifying the appropriate proportion and mood for a given project. Reinterpreting the three or four colors from a Color Harmony bar into a pie chart we can easily balance the colors.

Breaking it down

On a basic level, you can see how using a color story could work for selecting paint, textiles and other items in a room’s décor. A simple Google search for Purple Haze interiors and you’ll find elements like these:

pantone color harmony purple haze collage

Above, can you see how the color harmony is more of a guide than an exact recipe with this decor? It opens the door to incorporating on-trend colors and thoughtful pairings that might not have otherwise come to mind. It’s a translation of that color story, not just a copy!

But more specific to our daily lives as kitchen and bath designers, a Color Harmony can be used to guide the color palette material selections from floor to ceiling. The key is to look at the color value and hue as the basis, but also look beyond that and consider that the exact Pantone color is not necessarily exactly what you will use. You can desaturate and either lighten or darken the specified selection.

Ether collage.jpg

For some, the thought of using some of Pantone’s color harmonies might leave you scratching your head saying, “Hmmm, I’m not sure about those colors together in a kitchen or bath.” But explore this a little further with me. For example, if we take this color story, Purple Haze, and look at just one of the Color Harmonies, we can translate that into a color palette for a bath two completely different ways! Here’s a collection of design elements drawn from this palette:

Ether vanity collage

For this combination, we’re going right for the color statement by selecting a custom paint for the vanity that corresponds to Ether from the Purple Haze color story. As I pulled this palette together, I found it surprising that it was rather easy to find materials in the colors of Purple Haze and even more surprising how well the colors all worked together. (I guess those Pantone folks know a thing or two about color 🙂 !)

This design really plays up the richness of the tones. The glossy green tiles and pendant lights and purple accents bring to mind precious stones like peridot and amethyst. That gives this look a luxurious feel that’s still grounded in colors drawn from natural elements.

Or, if your client was looking for something a little more subtle…

Tradewinds vanity collage

In contrast, we’ve created a bit of a more eclectic look with large print floral fabric (Ultra Violet), grasscloth wallpaper (Weeping Willow) and penny round tile on both the wall and floor (Tradewinds). Playing up the earthy roots of these colors in the fabrics (Ether) and organic textures makes a bathroom like this feel a little like a quiet, stony pool surrounded by nature. Simple but well-researched selections like these quartz knobs add extra pizzazz to the design that is unexpected and speaks to the curated service you can offer your clients!

White Icing Vanity Collage

As we all know, there is simply nothing more timeless than white painted cabinetry, and for the client that sees color as too risky, this is always the right direction. It’s a great way to incorporate a trend without asking your client to go outside their comfort zone. Notice the tile and wall coverings are using the Color Harmony, yet in a more classic vibe. The addition of the drapery or shower curtain in Weeping Willow and the pendant and linens in Ultra Violet become the on-trend color statement that can more easily be changed down the road if desired.

These three pairings are drawn from just one Color Harmony — yet we’ve hardly scratched the surface! I enjoy the challenge of taking Pantone’s Color of the Year beyond just adding pops of color through accessories, and I hope that seeing just a couple of interpretations sparks some fresh ideas for you to explore with the client who is embracing the fast-paced trend of adding color in more permanent fixtures like cabinetry! Remember, you just might be tapping into a unique design that they haven’t even considered asking for!


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