Faded, subdued hues are infusing spaces with a new kind of serene sophistication.

Rachel Halvorson Pastel Living Room
Credit: Paige Rumore

The South is hardly shy about color, but right now, it's making a statement by using hushed palettes. The shades being selected today whisper rather than demand attention. Rooms are being veiled in washed-out blues, dusty pinks, and delicate greens. The lighter hues are layered like neutrals with warm grays and enlivened by bright pops of color in accessories and textiles. "Ever-softer shades of pink, blue, turquoise, and green are showing up in fabrics, wallpapers, and overall design schemes," says interior designer Lance Jackson, cofounder of Parker Kennedy Living in Commerce, Georgia. Classic textiles are being reinvented in serene color palettes as well. "Picture an 18th-century damask in faded slate blue, pale spa aqua, and soft grays," says Scott Kravet, chief creative director for Kravet, Inc. In fact, Sherwin-Williams Sea Salt (SW 6204)—a neutral, versatile faint green—is one of the best-selling shades across the South.

Rachel Halvorson Soft Color Sitting Room
Credit: Paige Rumore

How do you keep things lively in such a soft space? "Use bold patterns and colors in small doses to keep your eyes moving," says designer Rachel Halvorson.

Not sure what shade is right for you? We asked three Southern Living Designer Network members share their top hues.

Stardew (SW 9138); Sherwin-Williams

Stardew Sherwin Williams
Credit: Southern Living
  • "This serene gray-blue can somehow change color with the light, from a silvery shade to a deep blueberry."
  • Jess Dauray
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • jessicadaurayinteriors.com

Romance (SW 6323); Sherwin-Williams

Romance Sherwin Williams
Credit: Southern Living
  • "The perfect neutral to brighten any room, this color is also soft enough to blend in with the rest of your home."
  • Sarah Moore
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • sarahcatherinedesign.com

Filmy Green (SW 6190); Sherwin-Williams

Filmy Green Sherwin Williams
Credit: Southern Living