by Lauren Phillips
Pastel paint colors may bring visions of childish bedrooms and nurseries to mind, but those notions are more than a little outdated. Pastels are all grown up now, and they’re proving that a little color and soft tones can go anywhere—and make even the smallest of rooms feel light, bright, and beautiful at the same time.
With the colorful bend of dark paint colors and the subtlety of neutral paint colors, pastels offer a little bit of both ends of that spectrum, and they’re available in nearly any color imaginable. They can make a room feel playful or sophisticated or sunny, depending on what décor and furnishings they’re paired with, and they always look refreshing—likely because they’re a decisive departure from the all-white interiors popular in the recent past.
A bold wall or striking paint color might get more surprised (and intrigued) reactions from visitors, but a softer pastel paint color will get practically the same reaction—while being a little easier to decorate around. Depending on how light the pastel is, it can even blend seamlessly into an existing room’s décor, even if that room is oriented around a more neutral color. If anything, pastels are oxymoronic colorful neutrals: pretty enough to pop, but not bold enough to clash. (Just keep in mind that that’s true for most pastels, though it’s not the rule—don’t go too crazy with these shades.)
With all that in mind, take these pastel paint colors as inspiration, then go out and pick your own perfect shade—whether you want to use them as kitchen cabinet paint colors or distinctive accents, there’s one for you.
A go-to for nurseries, this light shade is great for any space that could use a tropical or playful tone.
From super soothing to a little funky, blue paint colors can do it all. The right pastel shade has the same power—just pick with caution to ensure you’re striking the tone you want.
Most pastel purples lean in a near-gray direction, which only makes it easier to match these shades with the décor already in the room. Go in a more purple direction for something more energetic, or find a paint color with more gray tones for a more sophisticated feel.
Borderline minty, few colors are as refreshing as pastel green. Applied correctly, it fills any room with character—and an unbeatable individuality.
While the above is a little dark for a true pastel yellow, it gets the point across: Pastel yellow is hard to ignore. Its impossibly sunny vibe will make any room feel happier, more upbeat, and positive—great for rooms that don’t get a ton of natural light. Avoid mustard tones, and you’ll be able to use pastel yellow however (and wherever) you want.
Call it pastel orange or tangerine, but this citrusy shade pops. It carries a particularly tropical feel that is best suited for warm environments—or environments that you want to feel warm.
Pastel red paint colors are the same as pink, right? Wrong. Pastel red has a little more edginess to it than pink, with an almost burnt-orange look that isn’t quite pink—though it’s certainly close.
All right, this isn’t technically a paint color, but it still puts pastels to work to fill a room with plenty of light. Pastel wallpapers can incorporate several different colors or just one or two, depending on how busy a print you’re looking for.
We don’t recommend using pastel spray paint on a wall, necessarily, but for furniture (especially outdoor furniture), few coverings work quite as well. Try a pastel spray paint for complete coverage that doesn’t look too bold or bright—just enough to draw the eye.