Pretty - and handsome - in pink


Washington - 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 1980s. 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 blush, fuchsia, coral and other shades that might change your mind.

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Patterns are another way to incorporate pink’s warmth; the pattern in this sofette from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is feminine but not girly. Illustrates DESIGN-PINK (category l), by Lindsey Roberts, special to The Washington Post.  Moved Thursday, February 20, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.)Grandin Road’s Madeira chest in Hibiscus Pink would add a strong element of color to any room. Illustrates DESIGN-PINK (category l), by Lindsey Roberts, special to The Washington Post.  Moved Thursday, February 20, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Grandin Road.)Urban Outfitters Fade Out linen pillow (left) pairs pink with grey, a favorite color combination of some designers; the light red in these center stripe towels is a close, more masculine cousin of pink. Illustrates DESIGN-PINK (category l), by Lindsey Roberts, special to  The Washington Post.  Moved Thursday, February 20, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Urban Outfitters; Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co.)

As New York interior designer Jamie Drake says: “Pink can bring vibrancy and life to a room that might be lacking in natural light.”

Although Drake, designers Charles Almonte and Annie Elliott didn’t agree on everything pink (the two men favour pairing pink with grey, Elliott abhors it), they did all argue for the virtues of the colour – especially the fresh and refined blush. Here are the paint colours and goods that have us, well, tickled pink.

“Pink can veer towards the old auntie, grandma, in many people’s thoughts, but those are the dusty pinks,” Drake says. He, Almonte and Elliott suggest blush – “a clean blush, not a beige blush, not a browny blush”, Drake says.

Part of pink’s appeal is that it’s a subtler version of red, Elliott says, and red can be too bold for some. Both colours 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 says. “It has the warmth of red without the intensity.”


Pink pairings are personal choices. Whereas Elliott thinks pink and grey are too reminiscent of bad 1980s windbreakers, Drake and Almonte think they are a chic duo. “Most folks think of pink as a very feminine or juvenile colour, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a masculine colour if paired with the right complementary or contrasting colours, such as grey or black,” Almonte says.

“I think pinks work especially well with grey – the whole spectrum from platinum to charcoal,” Drake says.

Patterns are another easy way to incorporate pink’s warmth and life. Almonte likes a pink-ivory-and-raspberry hue. The colour “is feminine, but choose a pattern that doesn’t read ‘girly’.”

Art with pink in it can be a welcome bright spot in any space. “A print of a pink flamingo would add just the right pop of colour in an otherwise masculine grey or black room,” Almonte says. He likes “Flamingo No 1” by photographer Sharon Montrose (

“This shower curtain is darling,” says Elliott of a ruffled shower curtain ( “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 says.

To avoid a dated shade of pink, Elliott says 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 1980s at bay.”

Spotted pink party glasses are “pink, spotted delights”, Drake says. “They’re casual enough for brunch, but mod and classy enough for a cocktail,” Almonte adds.

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 says. “It’s sophisticated.”

The energy of neon pink meets the serenity of beech with a five-bowl salad serving set on the lunch table. Something about pink makes food look appetising, Elliott says.

Almonte likes painted furniture in any colour, but especially pink. Take the chest in hibiscus pink; it has two drawers with brass pulls to help with living-room storage. “Want a pop of colour?” Almonte asks. “Well, here you go! I would call this a strong pink: vivid, hot and sexy.”

For “instant character”, Almonte suggests a hand-turned table lamp. Rebecca Snelling designed the lamp available from New Zealand shop Douglas and Bec, with its blush linen shade and gold fittings ( “I like the wood-grain detail.” Just one in a living room would add an artisanal, collected touch.

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 says “a chevron, houndstooth or checkered pink-and-grey pattern could be considered gender-neutral. A lot of men’s bow ties and ties are seen with these patterns and colours.” – Washington Post

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