Designers Have Declared Pink the New Neutral

Pink Dining Chairs
Photo: Alexander Interiors, Photo: Mary Craven Photography

If you thought pink was reserved for baby nurseries and tween bedrooms, think again. Pink has taken a firm seat in the neutral category thanks to the fresh and unexpected way designers are choosing to use the once prim and proper hue.

But what if you're trying to incorporate pink into your home without a designer on retainer? Taylor Hill of Taylor Hill Interior Design in Greenville, South Carolina, says to just start simply by setting the right tone. "It's easy to see why pink is associated with bubblegum and jewel tones, but muddier shades of the color live almost as a neutral in many spaces while adding a layer of depth and elegance," she says. If you're starting from square-one in selecting a neutral pink paint color, Hill suggests looking to the neutral areas of paint decks, rather than automatically gravitating toward the pink columns. "Because of the color's sensitivity to light, I've found that testing out the shell or sandier tones within the space really helps," she explains. Once you've found the perfect shade, Hill suggests "swathing the whole space in the same color—that includes the walls, trim, cabinetry, and sometimes the ceiling too!"

Whether you're looking to go ceiling to floorboards or simply add a few hints of pink to your décor, these tips from Southern designers will get you thinking (or shall we say "pinking") in the right direction.

01 of 05

Go Matte

Casa Vilora Interiors Pink Powder Bath
Casa Vilora Interiors; Photo: Colleen Scott

According to Veronica Solomon of Casa Vilora Interiors in Katy, Texas, every color under the sun has a neutral, and pink is no different. The secret is in finding a pink that carries a "shaded or dusty tone." From there, going matte rather than selecting a finish with more shine, will help it more effortlessly blend with the surrounding. "Depending on the shade of pink, I will use it either as an accent, where it only appears in smaller pieces like pillows and accessories, or as the basis for the room's color palette."

Pink Pick: Benjamin Moore Pleasant Pink (2094-60)

"I used Pleasant Pink in a matte finish in a powder room a few years ago and love it."

02 of 05

Warm It Up

Mary Patton Pink Dining Room
Mary Patton Design; Photo: Molly Culver

Houston, Texas-based designer Mary Patton of Mary Patton Design loves the versatility of a warmer, muted pink. "It can work anywhere," she says. "It's an extremely sophisticated color that can easily be swapped out where you might use cream." As for how often she seizes the opportunity to incorporate pink into her designs, well, for Patton it's a matter of self-control. "I love to use pink all the time. It's my favorite color, so I do have to practice some­­­­ restraint," she says. "I currently love to use it in countertops. I just finished a project with a pink marble kitchen."

Pink Pick: Farrow & Ball Calamine (No. 230)

"We used [Calamine] in several spaces of a residence we designed that has a light and airy feel that makes for a relaxing space. There's a gray undertone to it, which makes it adapt to a variety of spaces and can complement a variety of design styles."

03 of 05

Make It Monochrome

Pink as Neutral Ellen Kavanaugh Interiors
Ellen Kavanaugh Interiors; Photo: Brantley Photography

Designer Ellen Kavanaugh of Palm Beach, Florida-based Ellen Kavanaugh Interiors is a fan of using pink as a wall finish—from paint to wallpaper and even plaster, but there's one caveat: "Know you're using the right shade of pink." Shades that Kavanaugh says should not make the cut include varieties that skew too cutesy, bubble gum, or Pepto-Bismol inspired. "Stick with pinks that are not clearly pink, such as a soft coral or conch shell pink, a dusty pink, or a rose pink," she says. Chocolate brown makes a good companion, but with a pale conch shell pink (Kavanaugh's favorite hue), ivory and camel can create a pleasing monochromatic look.

Pink Pick: Benjamin Moore Sheer Pink 894

"[Whether] full strength or cut 50% it comes off almost as a neutral with just a hint of color."

04 of 05

Have Confidence

Pink Dining Chairs
Alexander Interiors, Photo: Mary Craven Photography

"It's so much more than nursery pink," says Tori Alexander of Alexander Interiors in Nashville, Tennessee. To help take the intimidation factor out of using pink, Alexander recommends thinking about it as a neutral right from the start. Avoid colors that carry a blue undertone, which can make them feel more juvenile. Instead opt for peachy hues that will give off a warm glow and make effortless pairings for a broad range of other colors. "Currently, faded reds, mauves, and corals are having a major impact on my design schemes."

Pink Picks: Sherwin Williams Quaint Peche (SW 6330), Smoky Salmon (SW 6331), and Coral Island

"We are currently doing a project that incorporates a high gloss peach tone on the ceiling with a teal wallpaper. I have been exploring Sherwin Williams' Quaint Peche, Smoky Salmon, and Coral Island."

05 of 05

Keep It Fresh

Tavia Forbes of Forbes Masters, a design firm based in Atlanta, uses pink to give a space a warmly feminine feel that also evokes a soothing mood. "Pink was heavily used in the early 20th century," she says. "Like many aspects of design, celebrating past trends is the new trend." So how does she keep it feeling fresh for 2022? "Pair it with stronger hued colors. Colors such as rust or turquoise with a soft pink allow pink to act as a taupe or cream," she says. According to Forbes, when used in design, pink can feel both strong while adding an air of relaxation.

Pink Pick: Clare Wing It

"For us, Wing It is often our pink of choice. It is soft, blends well with neutral or loud colors and creates an atmosphere of relaxation. Unlike bolder shades of pink, Wing It can replace neutrals such as tan and beige."

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