We explore Sherwin-Williams 2020 color of the year, Naval, through examples of recent designs in commercial and residential spaces, as well as complementary colors.  

Sherwin-Williams announced the 2020 Color of the Year: Naval SW 6244, a rich navy hue that strikes a balance between calm and confident. Sherwin-Williams described Naval as a color that showcases the glamour of Art Deco and the serenity of a yoga studio.

“The use of color in interior design is changing. It’s not just about what a space looks like anymore, but how it makes you feel,” said Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “People want to feel grounded and inspired to pursue their mental, physical and emotional well-being. Naval is reminiscent of the night sky, which people have looked to for centuries for guidance, as a muse, and as a reminder to live more mindfully.”


Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams


Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams


Photo courtesy of Sherwin-Williams


Taking cues from the Roaring 1920s, Naval pairs well with luxurious finishes, such as marble and mixed metallics, and can help highlight items of exquisite craftsmanship. Designers and homeowners alike are embracing statement-making décor, and Naval is the new, approachable neutral that goes with everything.

“We’re predicting that the next decade in color is going to be bold. This year we saw the return of the ‘70s, and next year we think the vibrant energy and luxurious design of speakeasies will make a comeback,” said Wadden. “Naval merges the desire for rich, inspiring color with our yearning for relaxation and retreat. In the next 10 years, we’ll continue to move away from omnipresent neutrals and design will feel more personal again.”


Burnished golds such as Tarnished Trumpet SW 9026, and biophilic greens such as Ripe Olive SW 6209 complement the richness of Naval, while crisp neutrals such as Snowbound SW 7004 and Touch of Sand SW 9085 make up a more traditional color palette and allow Naval to stand out.


Creating a home retreat

A versatile neutral, Naval doesn’t conform to one design style. From boho to traditional, coastal to contemporary, Naval can either fade into the background or play a starring role. A room painted in Naval creates a grounded space that ushers restfulness and tranquility into the home.

“Pair Naval with natural materials, such as warm leather tones, vibrant greenery, and woven fiber rugs, to create a calming oasis in your home,” recommends Wadden. “Furniture and décor can be mixed and layered to build a look as minimalist or maximalist as you like.”

Here are designs we’ve found that are similar in color to Naval to help with inspiration.

Featured on Instagram by Porter Teleo, featuring their Ink Blot wallpaper


Featured on Instagram by Zoe Feldman Inc., an interior design firm in Washington, D.C.


Featured on Instagram by interior designer Emily Henderson


Featured on Instagram by interior designer Lada Webster


Featured on Instagram by the homeowner, Garance Doré


Featured on Instagram by Ali Budd Interiors


Timeless commercial properties

For designers and other professionals, creating a space in which people feel good about living and working is a top priority, and Naval makes their job that much easier. On its own, Naval creates a sense of depth, which brings mindfulness and energized calm to gathering spaces, offices, hotel rooms, and restaurants.

“Naval can easily play into any mood you’re trying to create, whether it’s lively energy for a restaurant or calm serenity in a hotel room,” said Wadden. “It’s a truly versatile color that will be on-trend and appealing for years to come.”

Here are some spaces we’ve seen in a similar shade to help you image Naval in your own design.

New Orleans luxury guest house Maison de la Luz


Featured on Instagram by Benjamin Reynaert, Senior Style & Market Editor from Architectural Digest
Photo courtesy of Sherwin-William, by ©denisismagilov from stock.adobe.com

About Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year

The 2020 selection, Naval SW 6244, marks the 10th straight year that Sherwin-Williams has named an official Color of the Year.

The list of previously selected colors includes:

“In the past 10 years, we’ve seen color evolve from beiges to cool grays and now back to warmer neutrals,” said Wadden. “And while greens and blues are always popular, how we’re using them in design is changing. In the coming decade, key combinations will include black, white and navy for a timeless look, or navy and jewel tones for a nod to Art Deco.”

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