Sweet & Sophisticated: Decorating with Pastels with an Edge

What do you think of when you hear the words “pink,” “lavender” or “mint green”? Maybe a baby’s nursery or an Easter bouquet come to mind. While the very pale-hued nature of pastel colors often associates them with soft, sweet things, it’s also possible to use their softness as a counterbalance to contemporary “grownup” spaces as well. It’s the softness of pastels that pairs so well with an edgier look, often being just the thing to round out an entire scheme into one sophisticated whole. Consider the following examples:

Pastel + Clean Lines = Grown-up Color.

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The palest of green walls and baby blue sofa are pastel elements that work with the natural light to brighten this space. It is the clean contemporary lines – of the sofa tables, fireplace, and furniture – that brings the pastels into a more mature realm. Warm wood floors and lots of white lighting fixtures also help combine the darker and lighter elements to create this bright and inviting space.

Pastel + Complementary Color = Modern & Edgy.

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Pastels need not be used in a rainbow of pinks, yellows, and lavenders to make an impact. In this open concept space, for example, sky blue is the single pastel used on the island and a bit on the walls. It is wisely pared with its complementary color – this orange sienna – on a variety of modern furnishings to provide a powerful and aesthetically pleasing palette.

Pastel + Black = Major Impact.

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While the minty blue walls and yellow trim could easily be the components of a child’s room (not to mention the rainbow-hued pastel dining room chairs), this dining space is far from sweet and juvenile. A modern chunky table frame, wet bar, and large modern art frame – all black – force onlookers to take the other pastels seriously in this eclectic and well-rounded space.

Pastels + Industrial = Urban Chic.

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A dark ceiling, an entire wall of reclaimed wood, and exposed pipes could lead one to feel a bit claustrophobic or, at the very least, uneasily underground. However, these industrial touches seem all the more appealing when paired with a multi-colored pastel sectional and powder blue metal coffee table. The harder elements keep the pale colors from being sugary sweet, and the colors of the sectional here bring peace and an element of sunshine to the otherwise rudimentary space. Oh, and a little abstract art never hurt a pastel grouping, either.

Identical Pastels + Containment = Contemporary Serenity.

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Choose one, and only one, pastel hue to use and keep it confined to one item or identical items (in this case, dining chairs). Then use warm tones and contemporary touches everywhere else (e.g., wood table legs, cream-and-caramel chevron rug, brass chandelier). A round glass tabletop and large modern art piece, for example, are chic touches and counterbalance the baby blue upholstered chairs.

Picture sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.