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The Most Grown-Up Pastel Color Palettes Designers Love For Rooms You Want to Relax in

Pastel color palette used in a home office.

Pastel color palettes are no longer the preserve of a kid's bedroom, but a tool designers are using to create soothing schemes all throughout the home.

The latest color trend sees pastels paired with a mix of bolder shades to build layered spaces that look grown up, even sophisticated. It's achieved by picking out the gray and blue tones of the pastels rather than the pigments in them, that can make them seem sugary.

'When we’re out in the world, we're busy, we're running around, we're doing our thing,' said the designer Brigette Romanek, talking about her love of pastels, most notably lavender. 'When you come home, and particularly into the bedroom, you want to exhale. You want your space to let you just take it easy.'

And that's what pastels - when used right - can do. They create a moment of calm, a soothing scheme that inspires you to take a breath. So, go on, take a big breath and discover what pastel colors go together best, and what 'adult' schemes designers are loving right now.

1. Pastel pinks and blues with off-white

(Image credit: ulie Soefer. Design by Nina Magon)

The joy of decorating with pastels is how easy they are on the eye - their very nature is unchallenging, instantly relaxing anyone who enters a pastel-skewed room.

In order to celebrate that, Nina Magon Studio chose to complement the pastel furniture in this living space with a creamy off-white color on the walls. Nothing jars, and the result is a totally soothing scheme.

'It is actually plaster on the walls,' the studio's founder Nina Magon says. 'We opted for plaster as a texture for the walls to infuse warmth and inviting allure into the space, effectively balancing the colors of the furniture and textiles.'

2. Pastel pink with dark green and wood tones

(Image credit: Mary Patton)

A different approach by Houston-based studio Mary Patton Design can be seen here. Highlighting the pastel pink on the walls, the dark and vivid greens in the curtain colors truly stand out. It might read as too dramatic if what you were going for was a peaceful pastel color scheme, but the two are bridged by the softness of the wood.

There is a design sleight of hand here, though, and one that is worth remembering when decorating with pastel tones. 'The trick to it is the blush color is not a true pastel - it doesn’t have blue in it, it really is more of a creamy blush,' says the studio founder Mary Patton. 'Since that reads slightly warm, it’s a good foundation to hold against bolder primary colors and makes sense with the wood floor color that could lean yellow if put next to a cool tone.'

3. Pastel blue and red

(Image credit: Ori Harpaz. Design by LALA Reimagined)

It seems that right now, in the summer of 2024, every color goes with red and can be given an elevated boost with a dash of crimson. So runs TikTok's favorite design theory, that of the 'unexpected red,' that says the bold hue can work as a finishing touch, much like a slick of red lipstick always does to an outfit.

The theory is upheld by this bedroom, created by Los Angeles-based studio LALA Reimagined. 'We love red,' says Azar Fattahi, one of the studio's two co-founders. 'It's really interesting, and almost feels like a neutral.' By pairing it with pale blue you get a pastel color scheme that looks totally right for now.

4. Pastel blue and yellow with orange

(Image credit: Margaret de Lange. Copyright: Koi Colour and Design Studio)

To help make a pastel color scheme feel contemporary, one approach is to split the pastels with what Dagny Thurmann-Moe, creative director of Koi Color Studio, calls a 'mediator'. For this dynamic living room color palette, she separated the pastel blue and pastel yellow with a vibrant hit of orange, to arresting effect.

'Yellow and blue is a combination I usually have difficulties with, it often reminds me of a Swedish flag, or the IKEA logo,' Dagny says. 'However, if you use a color as a mediator, you can achieve a really sophisticated palette. To find the perfect mediator, try to find a nuance that is split complimentary to your yellow or blue.' Halfway between the two shades is this bold orange, so it works with both while uplifting them, too.

5. Pastel lilac with oak tones

(Image credit: Michael P. H. Clifford. Design by Jake Arnold)

For this reading corner, LA-based interior designer Jake Arnold chose a lilac color to cover the bookshelves and paneling. It is prevented from seeming sugary or too sweet by the use of oak furniture and the lighter wood floor color that has warmer tones than the cool-tinged lilac.

As to where to find such a perfect shade of lilac, New York-based designer Robert Stilin has some ideas. 'There’s a light lavender, WC-09 by Fine Paints of Europe, that is one of my very favorite colors,' Robert said. 'It’s subtle, but it still catches your eye, and it is unexpected and playful. Farrow and Ball's Calluna is a light gray-lavender that's cozy and a bit moody.'

An ideal way to do grown-up pastels.

6. Pastel green and blue

(Image credit: Uchronia)

It used to be that blue and green should never be seen - the old color adage passed down as generational wisdom to seem like it had become a truth. But contemporary designers have subverted this, and blue has certainly become a color that goes with green. To pleasing effect in fact, as seen in this pastel green living area with a pastel blue Camaleonda sofa, decorated by Parisian design studio Uchronia.

The gemstone malachite was the inspiration for a scheme that seems to glow, despite its pastel-toned delicacy. ‘The table, the walls, all began with this wildly patterned and colored gem, so unique and vibrant, but calming and grounding, the perfect setting to eat and share,’ explains the studio's founder Julien Sebban.

7. Pastel pink with blue

(Image credit: Mikhail Loskutov. Design by Veresnovsky Design Studio)

Pastel pinks are often used as a neutral - a more uplifting version of gray and a less dazzling version of white, but they can be given extra warmth if paired with darker pinks and royal blues, a hue starting to be used in this year's summer color palettes.

The secret to the success of this home office by Veresnovsky Design Studio is in the sandwiching of the brighter shades by the pastel pink, which appears on both the sofa and the wall as a backdrop. 'I placed a long, liner table that fit snugly by the window and played with curving forms in the furniture to break the straight lines of the room,' says studio founder Tim Veresnovsky, explaining how the layout works so well.

8. Pastel pink with bolder pink and gray

(Image credit: Carmel Brantley)

Texas-based designer Nina Magon used pastel pink for the carpet color as a grounding base for the richer pinks layered on the walls and in the light fitting. And yet despite the limited color palette, the room still manages to not look like a Barbie-themed play palace.

This is because, here, the pastel pink acts as a neutral, its grayed tones working alongside the gray stone bed base to ground the rest of the scheme. For a similar look, try pairing pastel pink walls with a gray couch and then layer bolder pink pillows on top of it.

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