Interior designer Kelly DuByne shows off Pantone’s Color of the Year, classic blue, with a setting featuring an antique Victrola cabinet painted with the color and staged with neutral colors and strong white accents. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Interior designer Kelly DuByne shows off Pantone’s Color of the Year, classic blue, with a setting featuring an antique Victrola cabinet painted with the color and staged with neutral colors and strong white accents. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

This year’s Color of the Year is a timeless hue — classic blue

A Lake Stevens interior designer calls it a “grounded” tone, easily worked into existing color palettes.

Each year there’s a buzz of anticipation about the Color of the Year, which can influence the hues used in home decor and fashion.

Last year, the Pantone Color Institute, which announces its annual selection with fanfare, went bold with the splashy, bright “living coral.”

The decision was praised by some and ridiculed by others. Slate magazine called it a “hilarious misfire.”

This year, Pantone chose “classic blue,” calling it “a timeless and enduring blue hue, elegant in its simplicity.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that some rushed to critique this choice, too. Fast Company slammed the decision in two words: “a travesty.”

But that sentiment wasn’t universal.

“This is the first color in a long time that’s more of a color for everyone,” said Kimberly McIlrath, owner of Faded Elegance in Snohomish. “It’s kind of exciting. Something we can actually use.”

Last year’s coral was a great accent color for fashion, but not for wide practical use. “I didn’t really have it in the store,” she said.

This year’s classic blue is a shade between blueberry and cobalt blue that can be a great on the walls, in curtains and upholstery, McIlrath said.

“I think we’ll see a lot of it,” she said. “I know I’ve ordered quite a bit, and I had plenty in the store.”

That basic hue can be interpreted, meaning variations in its shade can be used as well, McIlrath said. “You don’t have to match that color,” she said. “Layers of blue are more usable, too.”

Kelly DuByne, owner of Distinctive Interior Designs in Lake Stevens, called classic blue “a grounded color — something that can be easily worked into existing color palettes.”

It can either be used boldly as an accent color that stands out or simply blending in with everyday decor.

“I can see it being used in the entryway, in living room pops of color, the dining room or even a bedroom,” she said.

It easily can be paired with off-white, cream and gray. “If you’re super bold, you could do the complementary color and pair it with orange,” she said. “Complementary colors are pleasing to the eye.”

Although Pantone’s annual color selection may be the most highly anticipated, it’s not the only business that announces an annual color choice.

Benjamin Moore chose “first light,” a rosy pink, while Sherwin-Williams chose “naval,” a darker blue hue than Pantone’s.

DuByne collaborated with McIlrath to illustrate color mixing and matching with items in the Snohomish store.

McIlrath painted a Victrola antique cabinet from the 1800s in classic blue and added updated handles for a more modern look.

She surrounded it with an upholstered chair in accent blue, woven rugs in different shades of blues and whites, and added ironstone china from France on the cabinet’s ledge.

McIlrath said classic blue fits well with Northwest decor. “We’re surrounded by water,” she said. “We always want something blue.”

If you’re inspired by “classic blue,” before you go out shopping, make sure you think of ways the color fits your style, DuByne said.

“I think our homes should reflect our personalities,” she said. “When I walk into a home, I want to know about the person who lives there. Mixing and matching furnishings and time periods make it personal.”

Her advice for homeowners about color is: be bold.

“I would encourage people, let’s try this bold color and get out of our comfort zone,” she said. “It’s only paint or decor. It’s not a lifetime commitment to color.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or

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