What will 2016 look like? According to the Pantone Color Institute, a puff of cotton candy.

For the first time in its history, the New Jersey-based firm has awarded two shades its coveted “Color of the Year” title: Rose Quartz (a light, dusty pink) and Serenity (its blue counterpart).

After years of bolder, richer selections, the soft hues are almost jarring, but they’ve been slowly been sneaking onto runways and into photo shoots for months. Sophie Donelson, editor in chief of House Beautiful magazine, wasn’t terribly surprised by the change of direction. “I’ve been seeing a lot of designers use what I call ‘sea glass’ hues – gentle washes of color – to create rooms that reveal themselves over time,” she says. “It’s not about garnering a whiz-bang reaction but developing a palette that’s peaceful without being sleepy.”

Interior designer Tara Mangini, co-owner of New York-based boutique firm Jersey Ice Cream Co., already knows her way around Rose Quartz. “We used a pink couch on a project last year, and then did a pink plaster kitchen on the next, and I totally loved both,” she says. “Years ago I wanted to paint my apartment pink and everyone scoffed at me, so I feel like this is my moment of redemption.”

As for Serenity, well, if you’re having trouble imagining your junior prom gown trending, you’re not alone. But according to Mangini, it’s probably only a matter of time. “Serenity, I'm not so hot on,” she admits. “But I read some quote by Yoko Ono about how she was really into pink for her last project, and now is obsessed with blue. So I'll be loving blue a year or two from now.”

How to Use Them

If you want to use both, incorporate neutrals and deeper hues to avoid looking dated. “Serenity and Rose Quartz are very similar in tone so I could see pairing these with a bolder hue, like a deep cocoa or charcoal, and a pale canvas like a chilly white,” says Donelson. “Those neutrals would do a nice job of taking the sweetness factor down a notch.”

Shop the trend

Boconcept pink throw, $99, Boconcept.com

Smeg 2-slice toaster, $149.95, SmegUSA.com

H&M linen cushion cover, $12.99, HM.com