Much of the debate about pink’s worthiness in the home comes down to hues. There’s dusty mauve, which dates a design scheme to the ’80s. And there’s bubblegum, which screams “frilly girl’s room.” With just those options, you might avoid pink altogether. But we talked to three designers about the blush, fuchsia, coral and other shades that might change your mind.
As New York interior designer Jamie Drake said, “Pink can bring vibrancy and life to a room that might be lacking in natural light, especially in a Northern climate where spring is short.” Although Drake, Maryland designer Charles Almonte and Washington designer Annie Elliott didn’t agree on everything pink (the two men favor pairing pink with gray, but Elliott abhors it), they did all advocate for the virtues of the color — especially the fresh and refined blush. Here are the paint colors and goods that have us, well, tickled pink.
“Pink can veer toward the old auntie, grandma, in many people’s thoughts, but those are the dusty pinks,” Drake said. He, Almonte and Elliott all suggest blush — “a clean blush, not a beige blush, not a brown-y blush,” Drake said. The top-100 designers — as selected on separate occasions by House Beautiful, Metropolitan Home and New York Magazine — picked out Crate and Barrel’s Cameo sparkling wine glass as the perfect example of just the right shade ($14.95, www.crateandbarrel.com).
Part of pink’s appeal is that it’s a subtler version of red, Elliott said, and red can be too bold for some. Both colors, though, can make a room a little more friendly. “If you go through all the pinks and find the right one, it can add just the right amount of warmth to a room,” she said. “It has the warmth of red without the intensity.” West Elm’s Phoenix wool dhurrie’s pattern subtly adds both pink and a muted red and would complement many styles ($69-$799, www.westelm.com).
Pink pairings are very personal choices. Case in point: Whereas Elliott thinks that pink and gray are too reminiscent of bad ’80s windbreakers, Drake and Almonte think they are a chic duo. “Most folks equate pink as a very feminine or juvenile color, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a masculine color if paired with the right complementary or contrasting colors, such as gray or black,” Almonte said, as with Urban Outfitters’ Fade Out linen pillow ($69, www.urbanoutfitters.com). “I think pinks work especially well with gray — the whole spectrum from platinum to charcoal,” Drake said.
Patterns are another easy way to incorporate pink’s warmth and life. Almonte likes the pink-ivory-and-raspberry-colored ikat Rebecca sofette by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. The color “is feminine, but because of the pattern, it doesn’t read ‘girly’ “ ($2,110, www.mgbwhome.com).
Room & Board’s 12-inch-square powder-coated Slim end table in Blossom “has an elegant and understated shape,” Drake said. “I love the contrast of the table’s minimal classicism with a pop of color” ($169, www.roomand board.com). (The ever-popular handcrafted Slim line comes in nine other colors, and even an outdoor version with six color options, leading Bon Appétit to call the collection “furniture candy.”)
Art with some pink in it can be a welcome bright spot in any space, even a bachelor pad. “A print of a pink flamingo would add just the right pop of color in an otherwise very masculine gray or black room,” Almonte said. He likes “Flamingo No. 1” by photographer Sharon Montrose ($25-$3,500, www.theanimalprintshop.com).
“This shower curtain is darling,” said Elliott of Urban Outfitters’ Waterfall ruffled shower curtain ($79, www.urbanoutfitters.com). “And pink in a bathroom is so flattering; it casts a rosy glow.” Who wouldn’t want a self-esteem booster while getting ready in the morning? “You’re going to feel good every day because you’re going to look fantastic,” Elliott said.
To avoid a dated shade of pink, Elliott said to “keep it more orange. ... You just want to push the pink more orange than purple, and that’s what will help you keep the ’80s at bay.” C. Wonder’s porcelain herringbone salad plate demonstrates how well pink and orange go together. Use it to wake up an Easter brunch table setting ($12, www.cwonder.com).
Men who do a knee-jerk nix of anything “girly” should consider light red — a close, more masculine, cousin of pink. “If you want to get the man in your life to accept pink, thinking of it as light red will help,” Elliott said. “It’s very sophisticated.” She suggests the center stripe towels from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. ($14-$72, www.schoolhouseelectric.com).
Almonte likes painted furniture in any color, but especially pink. Grandin Road’s Madeira chest in Hibiscus Pink has two drawers with brass pulls to help with living-room storage. “Want a pop of color?” Almonte asks. “Well, here you go! I would call this a strong pink: vivid, hot and sexy” ($399, www.grandinroad.com).
If you’re worried about too much pink being overwhelming or too girly, tone things down with lighter shades or by using only a few small pink accent pieces. Almonte said “a chevron, houndstooth or checkered pink-and-gray pattern could be considered gender-neutral as well. A lot of men’s bow ties and ties are seen with these patterns and colors.” (He confesses: “I’ve been known to rock pink ties and bow ties myself!”) Try Anthropologie’s chevron frame, made of colorful, hand-cut bone ($28, www.anthropologie.com).