Pink room ideas really do work. This controversial hue can actually form a reliable background colour that channels anything from a contemporary to a classical country-house spirit, as long as you find the right tone for the space and the light.
‘A well-judged pink is a far more useful colour than you might think. It has always struck me how many serious-minded Grecian interiors employed it two centuries ago.’ says decorator and paint specialist, Edward Bulmer of Edward Bulmer Natural Paints. ‘This is because it can be serious and architectural as well as soft and inviting. It’s crucial to avoid the shade being too fragrant and our Jonquil – which has a soft hue that hovers between pink and yellow/beige – is now one of our bestsellers, being used in halls, living rooms and bedrooms.’
Take advantage of taster pots and try living with sample colours before taking the plunge – just a few degrees towards yellow or, in the other direction, towards blue could tip the balance resulting in a pink that’s too bright or too cold.
‘I enjoy using pink in its many forms, dull, blush and even an orangey,’ says Charu Gandhi, director of Elicyon. ‘Our projects are often quite tailored and chic so we find pink is very adaptable and fits well, it can be striking but also romantic and gives a real sense of soft glamour – almost a romanticism. Pink works very well with metals and even champagne gold trim fabrics.’
Not everyone would risk using such a deep pink on the walls of a living room but use the right shade and instead of boudoir brash it will make any room look fresh, modern and very grown-up. Guests will be pleased too; the decorator Nicky Haslam is a long-term believer in pink being the most flattering colour for walls. This dark calamine lotion hue creates a perfect backdrop to set off the plentiful art works and mirrors in gilded frames highlighting, rather than distracting from, the colours within. Interior designer Beata Heuman, who specialises in creating rooms that are at once cosy, eclectic and chic, further grounds the living room space by using a more conventional navy blue plain on the sofa and chairs. This colour is then carried to the very edges through the use trimmings, lending a tailored and modern look to the scheme.
For years, the unwritten rule was that woodwork should be painted in high gloss with ceilings in a clean matt white, but finishes can be creatively used to make and accentuate architectural features - worth a thought in period buildings which are blessed with plenty of these details. Create a tonal statement not only by pairing two different colours - a pale pink and a dark navy are an unusual combination which nevertheless works well together (as fashion designers have long recognised). Then use another contrasting technique by painting the walls in matt emulsion against the door and skirting boards in glossy eggshell - it will help to frame the room. In this scheme by Farrow & Ball, the walls are covered in Pink Ground modern emulsion while the door and woodwork are highlighted in an eye-catching Hague Blue eggshell.
If ever in doubt when it comes to pairing colours, it’s always a good idea to resort to the colour wheel. Developed in 1766 by Moses Harris and called The Natural System of Colours, those which lie diametrically opposite each other will be balanced in contrast. Duck egg green/blue could be a cool colour to use on the walls but by pairing with a sofa in sharp pink, the two sit happily together and the room is instantly injected with buoyancy and youth. Once that’s been achieved, you can soften the edges, lest the room ends up looking too like a funky boutique hotel reception area, with some decorative details such as a painting that features contrasting tones or a slightly washed out ticking or a stripe on the cushions or rug.
The play of light and colour at a window has an unrivalled effect on our homes. Bold, colourful curtains and blinds, such as on-trend coral, will lend a room a sense of adventure, infusing it with character so that the window becomes a dashing highlight. Exercise a little restraint and gentler palettes of easy-living light pinks or blush will allow windows to take on the vital background role in a soothing, harmonious scheme.
In an otherwise neutral palette introduce a pop of colour to add energy to a room - particularly important in a kitchen environment which will often act as the hub of the home. To get this right, take some time to find the right tonal accent. 'We spend a lot of hours deliberating all of our design schemes in order to achieve the perfect palette for each individual project and client,' says Sophie Coller, managing director of Kitesgrove. 'In this instance, these vintage-style dining chairs, which are called Mazunte by Boqa, add a pop of colour and interest whilst retaining the pared back style central to the overall concept. The chairs are handmade in France in 100% recyclable plastic and much thought went into finding the right colour in order to achieve the perfect tone for the scheme. The richness of the deep pink complements the natural timber in the floor and accessories as well as the cool marble in the kitchen, ensuring a layered result that feels considered and collected over time, something that is central to our decorating ethos.'
The art of pulling together a room which blends and layers many different patterns and prints to result in a Bohemian finish is just that, an art. If it’s going to be attempted, the best advice is to choose a colour palette and stick to tones around those colours. Here, the designer and decorator, Susan Deliss, who is widely admired for her exacting eye for colour and pattern, has masterminded a living room which, while full of interest and character, remains restrained because it relies on three classical colours: deep pinks, smart navy and cream. The fabric walls, which were sourced for the client and bought blind in Paris, lend the room an enveloping and comforting sense of enclosure. Their busyness is tempered by the curtains and chairs which are plain ivory but trimmed and piped in contrasting tones creating structure and succeeding in pulling the scheme together cohesively.
The concept of light and shade works well. ‘While an all-enveloping colour throughout can work brilliantly, a subtler approach is to cut through bright or dramatic hues with softer colours,’ says Kate Bradley, one of Neptune’s home designers. ‘Try combining a deep navy with a rose pink, such as our Old Rose, or a neutral linen for example.’
If you like the idea of decorating with colour in a bedroom but prefer muted shades, try a pastel variation of pinks and greens. Then bring in accent pieces - like a bright rug or a ceiling pendant - to sharpen up the colour palettes. Pale pinks and greens, soft stripes and with lots of white on woodwork and exposed, painted white floorboards creates a light and breezy look which is a helpful colour palette when decorating a room with very limited dimensions. Keeping the tones quiet and unchallenging or using washed out colours helps channel calmness and serenity into a bedroom environment. 'In this girls’ room, we employed a combination of soft powder pinks and pale green tones to set the scene in our client’s seaside home,' says decorator Katie Cox of Ham Interiors. 'We used soft pink on the walls along with pale green fabrics and accents to create a pretty yet fresh feel in a very small space.'