In 2020, our homes have evolved from living spaces to makeshift offices and classrooms. We’re tired. We’re stressed. Finding those spaces to “escape” is becoming more important than ever, whether it’s a nook or a separate room entirely. Experts say the thoughtful use of color and strategic placement of natural stone throughout our homes can help create that sense of connection and comfort many of us are seeking more than ever right now. “During this unprecedented time, less is more and we’re experiencing a pause that’s called us to be mindful of how we’re living,” says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. Wadden believes now is a good time to focus on building sustainable sanctuaries and breathing new life into existing spaces. Wadden and her team recently revealed the 2021 Sherwin-Williams Colormix Forecast, which includes a palette called Sanctuary. “The Sanctuary palette is about being rooted in peace so it’s the ideal palette to help create a safe haven at home,” notes Wadden. “Sanctuary’s simple palette of earthy neutrals cultivates wellness and calm within the home.” Color us ready for change. Refreshing Our Spaces with Color and Natural Stone We know that color holds power; it seems that everyone is predicting we’ll be craving more calm in our lives in 2021. PPG Be Well PPG’s 2021 Palette of the Year is called Be Well and consists of three hues: Transcend, Big Cypress, and Misty Aqua. Transcend is a mid-tone oatmeal-colored hue which draws on earthy influences and nostalgia and grounds the Be Well palette. Big Cypress is a shaded ginger with persimmon undertones while Misty Aqua is a watercolor cerulean blue. “When the world experiences events that cause unrest, anxiety, and grief, we tend to naturally gravitate toward compassionate colors that allow us to create a personal retreat from the world,” says Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager, architectural and industrial coatings. “These comfort colors are similar to comfort foods – both offering a certain sense of familiarity and normalcy when facing the unknown.” Nature often plays a starring role when it comes to finding comfort. Natural materials such as real plants, wood, and natural stone have a grounding effect on our mental health, and choosing colors found in nature can have a similarly calming effect. Natural stone has a wonderful position in the color story, according to Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, interior design director and founder of Ames Design Collective and ASID chair elect. “Human beings have an intrinsic attraction to nature,” says Ames Noble. “Natural stone brings biophilia into our spaces and it is well documented that biophilic engagement can reduce stress, improve cognitive function, and enhance mood and creativity. These and other outcomes can increase wellbeing.” Angela Weil, CFO and co-owner of Stone Interiors, isn’t surprised that natural stone is commonly used to refresh and update indoor spaces, since we’re often looking for ways to implement the natural world into our homes. One of the best ways to take advantage of natural stone and color, Weil says, is to make sure the stone blends into the overall feel and natural environment. “Natural stone can be used in all spaces if selected to complement the colors and fixtures,” she adds. A little natural stone can go a long way. It isn’t necessary to undergo a complete remodel every year to incorporate changing color trends. Because so many stones are neutral in color, your countertops and fireplace surround will act as a perfect backdrop to changing paint colors and other accents. Health and Wellness When Wadden shares the feelings some of the colors in the Colormix Forecast evoke, she uses terms like slowing down and relaxation. The Sherwin -Williams 2021 Color of the Year is Urbane Bronze: a warm, sophisticated hue that promotes relaxation and serenity. “All of these colors are versatile enough to be used alone or together in a variety of rooms from the kitchen island to an accent wall in the bedroom,” Wadden says. While mental health and wellness are among some of the reasons we gravitate toward certain colors, it’s important to remember that natural stone can play an equal part in maintaining good health. Ames Noble reminds us that having highly cleanable surfaces such as natural stone is important for our health and safety—whether or not we’re living during a pandemic. If homeowners are seeking ways to integrate natural stone surfaces that promotes a more calming feel, Weil recommends looking at color, pattern, and texture. She believes the use of stones with cooler tones and dainty veining can help bring a calming feel into one’s space.