WITH long days and sunny forecasts, our focus has shifted to making our indoor spaces lighter and brighter.
And pretty pastel tones are leading the way.
“I think pastels have a magical ability to make any space feel refreshed and, in turn, ourselves,” said Emily O’Brien, an interior designer and stylist with furniture and homewares store Curious Grace.
“It is an energising palette that can help you feel invigorated, but it also has a beautiful ethereal quality that creates a sense of calm and sparks our emotions.”
What to use
Pink has, and always will be, one of the top pastel picks, according to Ms O’Brien.
But, she added, the hue was shifting into more “fleshy tones of pink”.
She was also a fan of soft blues and greens.
“Pinks can be really warming and inviting and have a feminine and luxurious feel, whereas pastel greens and blues are calming and inviting in a different way — they have a more refreshing and casual vibe,” she explained.
Ms O’Brien loves using warmer pastel shades, such as pinks, lilacs, oranges and yellows, in lounge rooms, especially when combined with some texture to create depth and interest.
She prefers cooler pastel shades, such as the blues and greens, for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.
It’s easy to get carried away and overdo a pastel palette, so keep it restrained to avoid the room looking naive or sickly.
And be aware of “grounding colours” — they play an important role.
“The grounding colour is the enhancing colour that ties everything together and helps keep your eye travelling around the room,” Ms O’Brien said.
“It’s not the most important colour, but it will allow the pastel palette to make sense and give it strength.”
Deciding what to use as your grounding colour was really a personal preference, she added.
“Some people are brave with colour, others are not, but whatever you choose, make sure you consider all the room elements as a whole and then define what elements would look best in the grounding colour,” she said.
She cited the example of a lounge room decorated in varying shades of pink, including the walls and the sofa, but with a dark-berry grounding colour in the form of an occasional chair or ottoman and accessories such as glassware or cushions.
She said berry was “a tonal variation that adds some richness and takes away from the intensity of the pink”.
Turn up the light
A well-lit room is crucial to making pastel shades really pop.
Natural light, in particular, helps to bring out the best in these shades, according to Ms O’Brien.
She suggested using sheers for window coverings to allow more light into the room.
If you must rely on artificial light sources to brighten a darker space, she suggested using ambient lighting, so the light produced was not too harsh or intense.
“Also consider lighting on the walls for a softer result, such as wall sconces, as opposed to downlights,” she said.
Fabric light shades in textured materials, such as sisal, muslin or linen, will help create muted light to complement a pastel colour scheme.
“Lighting is so important with this palette,” Ms O’Brien said. “A dark room will just reduce your desired effect by making the look less soothing and uplifting.”
■ Gauge if you connect with a pastel palette by starting small with accessories. If it feels right, consider something larger, such as a sofa or wall paint.
■ Create lightness by combining pastels with lighter timbers, such as oak or ash. Pastels look great with raw materials including natural stone and concrete.
■ Steer away from lots of linen in a pastel setting. Too much can make the overall look very flat. Use velours, velvets and chenilles for a luxurious feel.
■ Pair cooler pastels with natural tan tones, in leather and timber, for a sophisticated feel.
■ Introduce metallic touches, such as a small tray, ornament or candleholder. Brass looks good with sage green and sea-foam blues, while copper complements pink and terracotta.
■ Choose strong forms for furnishings and accessories to give pastels more definition.
■ Create interest on a wall with a chalk-finish paint. The soft effect is a perfect match for pastel shades.
■ Bring in graphic contrasts when decorating with pale orange. Sleek black accessories or accents, such as powder-coated metal light fittings or furniture legs, will look best.