Designing with Sand Dollar

The votes are in for Living Room's colour of 2020 challenge and the winner is, from the pastel bracket: Sand Dollar, a warm excursion on the darker side of the beige spectrum, bolder than typical builder's paint choices, but still neutral enough to provide a versatile and engaging canvas that works well behind a wide range of décor approaches. 

Curiously, it's the only warm tone to make the final four colours of our challenge, with the runners up being: Cerulean Blue, Purple Haze and Blue Atoll, each definitely tilted to the cooler side of the spectrum. 

As it happens, Sand Dollar was Pantone's 2006 colour of the year, but rather than being 14 years behind the times, this colour's current popularity stands more as a testament to the versatility of this and similar hues as an adaptable design base. 

Living room with many beige accents

So what does Pantone have to say about Sand Dollar? They speak of the organic and natural feeling the colour evokes, trends that are no less significant today. Sand Dollar evokes the beach and the desert, of course, and it's a suitable backdrop when you want a neutral and natural colour scheme. Let's look at how Sand Dollar transitions to your home design in practical terms. 


Bathroom with beige tiles and walls

Perhaps any colour challenge with a home décor context projects to walls, the foundation of most decorating schemes. Since walls are almost always at eye level, you can be forgiven for conservative colour choices because you're covering a space that's bold in area. There's a reason why bold wall colours typically go on single accent walls. Sand Dollar works as either a compliment or a contrast to many warm or cool choices for strong accents. 

Another important consideration for Canadian homes is brightness. The short and dark days of winter pervade everywhere in the country. Sand Dollar is the perfect tonic for the cool blue light of days spent longing for spring, as well as being flatteringly reflective to make the most of your interior lighting designs. Note that “sand dollar” is a common name used by paint manufacturers, and while most colours are very much in the Pantone neighbourhood, the density varies between companies, so some paints may be lighter than you expect. 


By no means is Sand Dollar limited to your walls. The colour itself evokes shades of unbleached muslin or linen. Drapery, sheets, upholstery and carpets can all target the Sand Dollar hue while bringing soft or rough textures along with them. Consider the effect of window treatments in this shade against lighter, neutral walls. Now replace dark panelling in a more formal room with the same Sand Dollar fabric, and you'll start to appreciate the colour is both dark enough and light enough for use in a multitude of settings. 

Bedroom with beige walls
Pink couch filled with beige pillows and a beige blanket

Accents and lighting

Sand Dollar is perhaps strongest as a backdrop for accents, accessories or fixtures that make strong statements. There are, however, ways to use the colour to add lighter touches without resorting to other more anemic hues. Choosing candles in a sandy shade steps up the style compared with standard white wax. Woven coasters or a textured table runner can be stunning exclamation marks atop dark-stained wood furniture. If you're an upcycle fanatic, try Sand Dollar chalk paint with a paste wax finish to revive a statement piece that's at home in Shabby ChicUpcycled or Coastal designs. 

Main floor of home with beige accents

Our readers have spoken, and the design fortune tellers can keep Neo Mint to themselves for a few more years. Sand Dollar may not be the most daring colour choice, but neither is it devoid of personality, versatility or dignity. It's a safe choice for walls that won't fade into obscurity, and it's in line with many contemporary values with a natural, organic feel. And hey, it's the 2020 choice of Living Room readers! You can't go wrong with Sand Dollar.

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