Pastels often get a bad rap for being too sugary sweet, frivolous or girly. But don’t be too quick to fall into this mind-set and immediately pass over pastel shades when choosing which hues to incorporate into your home. The secret to making soft, chalky colors work is to balance them with cool whites, moody black, gray and other neutral tones. Introducing clean, contemporary lines and modern design elements as well as raw, sleek or edgy materials will also cut through the cuteness and ensure that your design looks fresh, grown-up and chic, rather than childish or overly feminine.
Whether you’re a longtime lover of pastels or a newfound fan of the versatile pale palette, the spaces below will provide plenty of design inspiration and show how soft, muted shades can be woven into your home’s decorating scheme with great success.
1. Take it outside. Love the idea of adding a splash of color to the exterior of your home, but not a fan of bright, bold hues? Pastel shades, such as the muted yellow-green on the exterior walls of this striking home, are a great alternative, as they offer subtle color and style without being overwhelming.
Take note of how the two sections of gray-toned cladding on either side of the front door help offset the cheerful yellow-green panels and give the exterior scheme a modern edge. The material palette of concrete, steel and timber also offers contrast and adds to the dwelling’s cool, contemporary look.
Tip: If you want to decorate your home (either indoors or out) with a pastel hue, but cheerful colors — such as sunny yellow, fresh mint and powder pink — aren’t your thing, opt for shades with smoky, slightly dirty undertones, such as pale mustard, moss green or dusty rose, instead.
2. Strive for a cool, contemporary look. Sure, some pastel tones, including frosty pink and lilac, do look cutesy and sweet on their own, but introduce them in a sleek, ultramodern space (like the showstopping living room here) and the colors instantly take on a cool, grown-up and seriously chic vibe.
Here powder-pink curtains and a lilac geometric sofa add a dash of subtle yet statement-making color to this stark monochromatic scheme — I love how the graphic design of the sofa makes the pinky-purple hue take on an edgier appearance, despite its dreamy color.
Thanks to their soft, chalky tone and smooth texture, the rosy accents also help balance the sharp lines, exaggerated angles and glossy surfaces used heavily throughout the room,resulting in a space that oozes modern sophistication, layered with a hint of refined, ladylike style.
3. Create drama with a single pastel accent. An unexpected burst of bright color in an otherwise neutral or monochromatic space never fails to make a dramatic statement … and the same goes when you add a single pop of a pastel shade to a similar scheme, even though pale tones are generally less bold and vibrant.
This contemporary cooking zone shows this idea in action. Here the soft sea-green-tinged concrete island commands all the attention, thanks to its striking sorbet color, which pops against the room’s moody palette and instantly brightens up the space. Its angular design makes the freestanding piece a standout too.
Tip: Not quite ready to commit to using a pastel hue on a permanent fixture in your kitchen or another area in your home? Rather than choosing a pastel color for the island, another permanent structure (such as cabinetry) or a big-ticket item (such as furniture), introduce a single splash of color in the form of smaller or removable items or design features, such as a pendant light, artwork, a rug, curtains or a painted feature wall, that will be easy to replace or alter once your love affair with your pastel of choice is over.
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