Pastels: They’re Not Your Grandma’s Florals!

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Once, several years ago, I interviewed at a company that I really admired to work in their style department. I wore a bright red gingham men’s shirt tucked into high-waisted pants. The lady I interviewed with was the style editor and I was familiar with her taste: bold, bright, and fun. I loved her. And I liked to think that we had similar fashion styles. I specifically remember myself saying shamelessly and cockily, “I don’t do pastels” thinking that they must be a swear word around the office. They were in my book at least. Fast forward a few years and I cannot get enough of them. I wish I hadn’t been so brash! But then again, styles ebb and flow and what’s in one day is out the next.

What makes a pastel interior successful?

The thing about pastels in an interior space is that if you don’t do it right you might end up concocting a cotton candy store fit for a princess. Taken to this extreme, pastels can be overly feminine, but with just the right touch they can be whimsical and comforting. Let’s take a look.

Pastel Pink Interior
Image: Clive Tompsett

My two favorite pastel looks of the moment are the two images above. The second image, with pale pink walls, works because it is grounded with some unexpected color choices like burnt orange, dusty purple and mellow yellow. And while the sofa is also a pale pink, which could be too much in a different setting, the other furniture choices continue to ground the look with the pairing of dark, rich woods. Adding greenery into a space also alleviates the “princess” look and adds depth into the space.

The top photo works for similar reasons. The pastels are brought in with the different shades of the modern chairs. The rest of the space is grounded with earthy-toned paintings, rich wood furniture and floors.

Pastel Dinning Room
Image: Raellarina

What makes a pastel interior more feminine?

We’ve seen how pastels can be used in environments that can be pleasing to both males and females. But what makes an interior too feminine? My personal opinion is when there aren’t those grounding elements like greenery or complementary deeper color tones. The photo, above, edges on the line of shabby chic with the white walls and furniture and pastel accents. I think it would be a great girl’s room, but perhaps a little too feminine for an everyday space.

White walls and floors don’t have to be strictly feminine, however. The image below left, has similar elements, but the wall art adds in the grounding factors of additional colors combined with fresh greenery.

Pastel Pink Living Room
Images: Daily Dream Decor, Pinterest

The pastel yellow sofa here is successful for similar reasons. It’s lovely butter shade could be too light and airy, but set in a more serious scene, it becomes a lovely focus point in the room.

Pastel Yellow Sofa
Image: Casa Sugar

What do you think of pastels in an interior space? Do you dig them or are they too out of date for you?

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Brittany Watson Jepsen is an American designer and crafter who just returned to America after 2 1/2 years in wonderful Copenhagen, Denmark. Her motto is "a creative mess is better than tidy idleness" and she lives each day accordingly. During graduate school for interior design she spent one summer working for designers Jonathan Adler and Celerie Kemble and another summer studying textile design at the Danish Design School. She created her blog, The House That Lars Built, as a way to keep her designing and crafting. She currently runs her blog and her etsy shop, where she sells her home accessories and paper flowers.