How to use Pantone’s colour of the year in your home


    Every year Pantone, the worldwide authority on colour, complete extensive research that results in a carefully forecasted Colour of the Year, and Marsala has been selected as 2015’s shade of choice. We looked at it briefly when it was announced, but we then decided to look more in depth at this warm red hue that’s set to take over our interiors and specifically at how we can best use it in our homes, discover more below…



    According to the experts at Pantone unlike last year’s choice, Radiant Orchid which was uplifting, vibrant and dazzling, Marsala is a subtly seductive shade that speaks to people’s real needs. With earthy undertones this colour feeds the mind, body and soul suggesting 2015 is a year to nurture ourselves.

    Although the colour is grounding it is surprisingly sophisticated, perfect for both men and women, making it an extremely versatile colour. Easily applied to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors, Marsala encourages creativity and experimentation. 


    Marsala is one of the most versatile Colour of the Year choices we’ve seen for a very long time which means it can be used within nearly any colour scheme. Here are some of the pairings Pantone recommend to use with it:



    We’ve asked 33 of our favourite interior designers from around the globe how they plan to use Marsala in their designs this year. They’ve also donated their top tips on how to use the colour in your own interiors so if you’re not 100% sure how to use this shade in your home these ideas are guaranteed to inspire you.

    Leatrice Eiseman with guide in Turquoise 2010

     “Marsala is an exquisite shade to use as a paint colour, especially on a dining room wall as this warm, appetising, hearty, yet sophisticated hue is so appealing on many levels.”

     Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute


    Jared Sherman Epps, Interior Designer

    “Marsala is a robust, moody colour that reminds me of an earthy clay or a red wine.  It can be tricky to use such a serious colour in your home without creating a stuffy feel.  In order to achieve the right balance it is important to keep shapes/furniture in the space streamlined when using Marsala as a wall colour.  I personally like using this serious colour in a playful way, as I did with the chairs and billiards table in my clients transitional home. It’s an unexpected twist on the 2015 Pantone Colour of the Year.”

    Top tip: Keep shapes/furniture in the space streamlined when using Marsala as a wall colour to achieve the right balance tweet-tip

    Lori Dennis, Interior Designer

    “Marsala is our new sexy neutral – it’s a more updated, luxurious, spicy red.  It can be paired with white or grey for a modern look or an indigo blue or gold for a warm eclectic feel that really pops.  This beautiful Saba Italia Ziggy coffee table has a smooth top and textured mid-section – a great contrast piece for any social setting. Have fun with it!”

    Top tip: Pair with white or grey for a modern look tweet-tip

    Saba Ziggy

    Lisa Kanning, Interior Designer

    “In the living area of this casually sophisticated  mountain getaway, a textural monochromatic palette is further enhanced by adding a hint of a rich accent colour. For this particular room, a deep Marsala tone utilised on the silk pillows, crocodile textured leather upholstery, an Ikat patterned rug, and carved stone vases in the display shelves, adds a wealth of subtle contrast to the palette.  In conjunction with various neutral hues, this combination achieves the soothing balance of tone and texture integral to an LKID interior.”

    Top tip: Pair with a monochromatic palette to achieve a soothing balance of tone and texture tweet-tip



    Drew McGukin, Interior Designer

    “The colour red, in all its hues, is full of magic… especially the luscious ones like Marsala. We recently did a sofa in a deep red velvet that is very similar in colour to the 2015 Pantone pick. I was reminded that bold choices on sofa fabrics are often the missing puzzle piece in a room that’s longing for direction. Millwork finishing is another great place to think about using a colour like Marsala!”

    Top tip: Choose a Marsala coloured sofa in a room that is longing for direction tweet-tip



    Yasmin Chopin, Interior Designer

    “Marsala makes us think of rich red wine and spicy curry, the one being smooth and silky the other hot and spicy. The strength of these flavours, which are both satisfying and warming, make us feel good. Pantone offer us this colour in the knowledge it will provide us with comfort and excitement and how we use it in our homes determines the intensity of the experience. I couldn’t resist taking this photograph at the cake shop L’ETO as I was stopped in my tracks by the sheer indulgence and, yes, I succumbed to temptation. What hit me first was the colour, then the toppings and only after I savoured this did I notice the beautiful sea blue of the cake stand.”

    Top tip: Look for a partnership with blue, a cool blue that will cut through the richness of Marsala and balance it with icy sophistication.tweet-tip



    Kerrie Kelly, Interior Designer

    “With the popularity of wallcoverings and graphic images on walls, the shade of Marsala can offer the ideal backdrop to a traditional, transitional or more modern room. A wallcovering with varied shades of Marsala can create texture and interest that is easily paired with metallics too.”

    Top tip: Use a Marsala coloured wallcovering to create texturetweet-tip



    Diego Correa, Interior Designer

    “I think one of the biggest achievements in any proposal is to get the balance right. Colours can be used for tuning down otherwise too strong schemes. In this case the burnt orange is tamed by the Marsala colour on the wallpaper feature.  It brings depth and certain level of serenity to the general feel and look of the kitchen, helping me to keep the energy contained. I did not need to cover a lot of surfaces with it. It is so powerful and dense that bits of it create a nice equilibrium.”

    Top tip: Use hits of Marsala to tone down an orange palettetweet-tip



    Dean Keyworth, Interior Designer

    “I love Pantone’s choice for Colour of the Year – Marsala gives real warmth and punch. It is not too pink to be sickly, but not too bright red to make it hard to live with in an interior scheme.  A great example of its use on these cottage wardrobe doors by Canadian designer, Sarah Richardson.  The crisp zing of colour on the doors contrasts dramatically with the aged surface of the antique chest, whilst also bringing out the warm red aspect of the old wood. Tying the doors in with the bold striped rug makes the whole scheme balanced, but fun.”

    Top tip: Add fun to a room by painting the doors in Marsalatweet-tip




    Ed O’Donnell, Interior Designer

    “The popularity of painting walls in dark heritage style colours is on the increase and Marsala is a great colour to use.  As it’s not a deep burgundy or a bright red, it lends itself well to an immerse interior, painting ceilings, walls and woodwork in the same colour. Using a matt paint in this image gives this hallway a very modern look, to the classic architecture and tiled floor”

     Top tip: Create a modern look by using matt Marsala paint tweet-tip



    pic 2Jemma Paugh, Interior Designer 

    “I was so excited to hear Marsala is Pantone’s Colour of the Year! This rich, deep, luxurious colour is perfect for your home, especially during the winter months. I would recommend using it in two ways…. if you are feeling brave, choose a room in your house, perhaps a snug or TV room and paint all four walls. Then light the fire and accessorise with gold, this will create a warm and atmospheric room. Alternatively buy a large piece of Marsala coloured velvet and drape it across your sofa for an instant feeling of indulgence and luxury.”

    Top tip: Be brave, paint all four walls and accessorise with gold to create a warm atmospheric room tweet-tip


    Toni Sabatino, Interior Designer 

    “While at High Point Fall Furniture Market, I got a preview of Marsala paired with the currently trending grey (see image below) from furniture designer Joe Ruggiero! Seriously, accessories in the new Pantone Colour of the Year are a natural to warm a cool palette.”

    Top tip: Pair with grey to warm a cool palette tweet-tip



    Karen Howes, Interior Designer

    “At Taylor Howes we love using bursts of colour in a bold and confident manner and place great emphasis on finding show stopping artwork and unusual objet d’art to fulfil our clients needs. For those who are not brave enough to use colour extensively, an accent on cushions or accessories can be enough to add the pop that brings a room to life. A strong, warm tone such as Marsala is the perfect finish for a quirky piece.”

    Top Tip: Accents of Marsala in cushions can bring a room to life tweet-tip



    Nicky Summer, Interior Designer

    “It is unusual for us to use warm colours with a strong identity in our interior design schemes – we tend to veer towards neutrals, particularly if we are dressing a property for sales or letting purposes. However, before we even got to it, this large  Knightsbridge apartment had already been furnished with a bed featuring a cherry red leather headboard and also wine upholstered dining chairs. So, we toned the whole red vibe down a few notches by incorporating marsala, brown and cream striped cushions and also a marsala and cream striped rug in the dining area. The apartment also had green curtains already installed, so tying the whole look together – an eye-boggling combination of red, wine and pale green – took a bit more consideration than normal. Unsurprisingly, the apartment had been languishing on the market for months, but after our complete overhaul using marsala to soften the vibe, the client was delighted and the property was immediately leased on a long let through Harrods Estates at considerably over the asking price.”

    Top tip: In rooms that use a lot of red in their interiors, use Marsala in accessories to tone it down and soften the vibrancy tweet-tip

    1.1 @ 19 Trevor Place


    Natasha Rusak, Interior Designer 

    “Congratulations – we either like it or hate it, but the Pantone Colour of the Year 2015 is Marsala!

    There are a lot of discussions and battles around this decision and many of them are connected to the 70s or 80s because the colour is old fashion and dull. Let’s not do the time travelling and have a look at it from a modern-day perspective.

    Let’s agree that Marsala is a ‘yummy’ colour conjuring the smell of berries and grog (which is very topical at Christmas time).  There is something visually pleasing about it and it evokes positive thoughts of comfort and calm. Maybe it’s one of the reasons why Marsala has often been used to decorate our kitchens. Just a little pinch of warm and friendly Marsala added to a grey, concrete, modern and very cool environment will warm up an interior.

    Any room of your apartment or house will benefit when you decorate it with a touch of fashionable Marsala as an accidental theme. Cushions, throws and stylish accessories will do the job.”

    Top tip: Use Marsala in the kitchen to create a comfortable and calm atmosphere tweet-tip



    Lucy Harris, Interior Designer

    “I am a complete history junkie: from Byzantine mosaics to Mayan art and architecture. I want the interiors I design to not appear as if they are from a certain moment in time which is why I love to use the color marsala as an accent in sculptural pieces or accessories. It has a timeless quality which adds complexity to my work.”

    Top tip: Marsala coloured sculptural pieces or accessories add a timeless quality to the room tweet-tip



    img12cHélène Dabrowski, Interior Designer

    “Marsala, a muted earthy browny red, is the new Pantone Colour of the Year for 2015.  I must admit that it is not normally one of my favourite colours as it takes me back to the 90s when this was very much in vogue and was used a lot on wall plaster effect to create a Tuscan look. Lovely colour for a nail varnish though!  To ensure it doesn’t look dated I would only use it in small touches. For example I wouldn’t contemplate painting a room in it but perhaps the back of a bookcase for contrast or as part of a wallpaper pattern. I think the best use of this colour is in home accessories, cushions, rugs, glassware, lighting and the odd piece of furniture. There is a danger Marsala could look too rustic or dull. The key for it to look sophisticated and on trend is to mix it with other colours and textures, it works well with neutrals, greys, greens and blues.”

    Top tip: Use in small doses as a jewel colour and enjoy! tweet-tip



    Paul Langston, Interior Designer

    “Pantone’s Colour Of The Year Marsala has a rich and intense personality. As a result of these strong characteristics, a lavish application of it in an interior can sometimes appear to overwhelm the senses and make the room feel darker and heavier.

    I am a big fan of using this kind of colour more liberally as an accent. Accessories and soft furnishings are perfect interior elements for Marsala, bringing focus to key aspects of the scheme and adding a hint of intense sophistication to the room. Why not consider using Marsala as the colour for a single feature wall, a deep pile rug or statement chairs.”

    Top tip: Use Marsala for an intense single feature wall tweet-tip



    Nicky Mudie, Interior Designer

    “Marsala is an incredibly versatile colour. A red with heavy brown tones it’s unusual in its ability to both stand independently as a strong, vibrant, succulent colour and also to act as a neutral. Unlike primary or secondary colours that can clash, Marsala works with anything. Pair with flesh tones and  grey as an accent colour or let it melt into the background, becoming moody and sensuous with black and dark greens.”

    Top tip: For a moody and sensuous atmosphere pair with black and dark green tweet-tip



    Maurizio Pellizzoni, Interior Designer

    “This detail is part of the refurbishment of my own flat, ‘Casa Nostra’. During the works I wanted to add some texture and colours to the room; it being a very small flat, I had to be very careful with the ones I used and also the materials. The basic tones are warm and cosy and the Missoni Home fabric on the Charles Eames Lounge chair adds that extra element of luxury to the room. The classic Missoni fabric has many colours in it and the Marsala colour is very discreet but it also picks up the same tint of colour in the blinds. The Charles Eames Lounge chair, originally in white leather, is now the focal point of the open plan kitchen, dining and sitting room areas.”

    Top tip: Add Marsala in discreetly to pick up colours in other parts of the room tweet-tip



    Ksenia Pavlova, Interior Designer

    “Marsala, the new Pantone Colour of the Year 2015 is a rich and flavourful hue that can be successfully used in any room and in any style. It can be bold yet classy if used wholeheartedly, or create a vibrant finishing touch if used sparingly in smaller furniture, accessories or art. This colour has an earthy flavour and is very seductive whilst appealing to both men and women. As one example it can be used well as an accent wall in a dramatic bedroom with a masculine and slightly oriental flavour. It works great if paired with neutral walls and soft furnishings in warm taupes and dark wood or leather for a truly warming effect.”

    Top tip: Use in masculine bedrooms for a dramatic oriental flavourtweet-tip

    SHOT2407 copy


    Louise Leahey, Interior Designer

    “We love the Marsala colour as it has depth and warmth. We have recently used it to highlight the wonderful wine collection our client has on their bar.  The colour works particularly well with dark wood tones too but avoid using too much of this colour, use it as an accent wall or accessorise with it.”

    Top tip: Pair with dark wood to highlight wine collectionstweet-tip



    Darrin Varden, Interior Designer

    “In this Living Room scheme for a recently single and fabulous woman’s Manhattan apartment, I choose a deep Marsala as a sexy vibrant touch amid the deep, rich palette.”

    Top tip: Add Marsala for a sexy and vibrant look! tweet-tip



    Janine Stone, Interior Designer 

    “The prediction that Marsala is going to be a hit in our homes strikes a chord with me.  I particularly like dark jewel-like settings, the space envelopes you and your guests into a warm, inviting and at once convivial atmosphere.  I would create an area for contemplation and reflection making best use of a cosy corner, so a very comfortable and elegant chair will be required. A favourite of mine is Tristan Auer’s design for Pouenat – the Tweed lounge chair is part of the Artisan Collection at Holly Hunt. I particularly admire this sumptuous ruby jewel tone which has echoes of Marsala and would be an elegant addition to the space. Add to this the joy of gazing upon a painting that would give me much pleasure, the ‘Lady with fans’ a portrait of Nina de Callais by Edouard Manet would be perfect. A delightful duo to enhance your living space and enrich the senses.”

    Top tip: Create a cosy corner with an elegant comfortable Marsala chair tweet-tip



    Ceri Murray, Interior Designer

    “Marsala is a rich burgundy colour which will add depth and warmth to any interior. Really go for it by using it on the walls, teamed with dark grey (try Farrow & Ball’s ‘Downpipe’), to create a dramatic effect. Keep it confined to a relatively small area like an alcove or chimney breast. Add a few cushions in jewel like colours, Marsala and turquoise, to create a dramatic and luxurious room.”

     Top tip: For a luxurious look add cushions in jewel colours such as Marsala and turquoise tweet-tip



    Mark Howorth, Interior Designer

    “Callender Howorth worked closely with the clients on this house in central London to meet their desire for a calm and collected space that did not feel too minimal, it was important that is has a classical sense of style with modern quirky touches. Accents of Marsala in the artwork, scatter cushions and pottery pieces show the versatility of the colour accentuating the warm and welcoming feel of the space.”

     Top tip: Use accents of Marsala in artworktweet-tip



    Lucy Burt, Interior Designer

    “A rich and earthy colour, Marsala looks at home in a Moorish scheme with turquoise and gold. However, I prefer it as an accent textile colour – either a chair or sofa for impact or cushions for a subtle approach – with muted greys and neutrals, and would pair it with natural wood along with metallic touches of copper and brass.”

    Top tip: Invest in a Marsala sofa for impact or Marsala cushions for a more subtle approachtweet-tip

    Image LB


    Shannon Ggem, Interior Designer

    “Using Marsala in your home is quite simple because it’s such an earthy and grounded colour, it acts like a neutral while waking up any space!  We also love, love, love how gender neutral it is- giving us the ability to thread it through an entire project. In this custom home renovation we used it in a dramatic bathroom with grey as a counterpoint.

    Top tip: Thread the colour through an entire project to wake up the spacetweet-tip



    Bhavin Taylor, Interior Designer

    “When I think of Marsala I think of it as quite a traditional colour used in country homes, men’s tailoring, a gentleman’s smoking room to name a few.  With it being the Pantone Colour of 2015 I would want to bring a modern twist when using this colour in a home. Taking inspiration from this fashion image I would suggest a Marsala coloured sofa in a luxurious fabric such as velvet.  Layer the sofa with colourful patterned cushions, and place in a room with walls that are painted in a high gloss deep turquoise.”

    Top tip: Invest in a luxurious velvet Marsala sofa to sit in a deep turquoise roomtweet-tip



    Kari Whitman, Interior Designer

    “I don’t know who makes the decision of the Pantone Colour of the Year…but I do like Marsala. I used Marsala in Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas’ New York City apartment last year- I guess I was before my time.  Doing an accent ceiling, rug, light, or piece of art always makes a difference. Everybody wants a little peace in their life, surrounded with the Colour of the Year. Cheers to Marsala!”

    Top tip: An accent ceiling in Marsala will make a big impacttweet-tip



    Peggy Dupuis, Interior Designer

    “By using Marsala as a rich background your furniture and accessories will stand out in sharp chic contrast. For a contemporary look use Marsala as an accent colour against rose and green.”

    Top tip: Furniture and accessories will stand out more on a Marsala backgroundtweet-tip



    Emma Pritchard, Interior Designer

    “Marsala is the perfect, luxuriant tone for the walls of a study or sitting room, adding an immediate hit of the traditional cosiness to any space.  The rich tones can’t help but luxuriate atmosphere and verve, whilst its prime colour properties allow for the addition of more neutral staple furniture pieces to tone down and balance its rich tones.  The perfect addition to any room requiring a touch of warmth and drama with a classic and timeless twist.”

    Top tip: Add immediate traditional cosiness to a study by painting the walls in this colourtweet-tip



    Tanyth Thomson, Interior Designer 

    “Feeling bold? Marsala’s traditional tone can be used in eclectic spaces to warm the room and complement other period features such as this black and white checked floor. The tone of the wall warms up the space and creates a feature by its bright contrast. Be sure to keep skirtings and trimmings in white to ensure a contemporary look”

     Top tip: If you’re feeling bold, pair with a black and white checked floor tweet-tip



    Susan Cohen, Interior Designer 

    “In this Malibu residence, colour was key. There was not one white wall used in all of 7000 sq ft. of space. The client’s collections of black and white photography were the muse and what better way to display their art than with a dramatic choice of a rich robust earthy colour and its complements on the walls.”

     Top tip: Display black and white art on a Marsala backdrop to make it stand out tweet-tip



    Casa Forma Interior Design

    “Marsala is a beautiful deep wine colour that can be used in an interior design theme to add a sophisticated and trendy accent to the interior design. This colour can be injected into a neutral caramel/coffee/cappuccino theme in the form of a statement marsala coloured sofa. A statement marsala sofa mixed with caramel coloured sofas and chairs framed in dark glossy Indian rosewood adds sophistication to any sitting room. Marsala coloured cushions add an elegant touch of colour to a grey sofa in a interior design theme that incorporates various shades of grey. We used a marsala coloured statement textured wall for one of our projects in Kensington to add a fun and edgy statement to the dining room. We have previously used marsala coloured chairs in a formal dining room for a previous project in Mayfair as well. Marsala is one of those rare accent colours that are timeless and sophisticated and has been and will be continued to be incorporated in our colour schemes.”

     Top tip: Use a marsala coloured textured wall to add a fun and edgy statement tweet-tip

    Marsala Textured Wall



    Let us help you decorate with Pantone’s 2016 Colour of the Year, Rose Quartz and Serenity. 

    All images courtesy of the designer supplying the quote with the exception of the following: Hampstead design hub- bySerdar, Helene Drabawski- West Elm, Paul Langston- Staffan Tollgard, Nicky Maudie- Anthology, Ed O’Donnell- Notes on design, Dean Keyworth- HGTV, Kerrie Kelly- Laura Umansky, Ceri Murray- Shelterness, Bhavin Taylor- The Decorista, Shannon Ggem- Photo by: Michael Kelly Photography  Styling: Styling by Maxcy, Emma Pritchard- Houzz, Tanyth Thomas- Hommcps, Peggy Dupuis- Yasmin Chopin, Susan Cohen- Nathan Kirkman.

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