Pastels are packing a powerful punch in home design. That has some romantics tickled pink. The softer member of the red family is coming off fashion runways to products for every room of the house.
These pinks range from pale baby hues to shocking shades. There's a pink for everyone -- with a little blue for a mauvy mood or a little yellow for those who prefer salmon.
"People are ready for it," says Susan Moore, vice president of design for Robert Allen, a manufacturer of fabric, trims and furniture. The company's fabric division is teaming florals and stripes in two medium-toned pinks -- peony and azalea -- and setting them off with a couple of greens and a Tuscan red.
"Pink adds emotional content to a room," says David Bright of Robert Allen. "It makes you smile." Many manufacturers are banking on smiles from consumers. KitchenAid added pink to its Artisan collection of mixers ($50 of the $249 purchase benefits a breast-cancer foundation). A brass and crystal chandelier with pink glass is selling for about $1,200 in the Neiman Marcus catalog. And Giorgio Armani designed a boxy bold fuchsia chenille armchair retailing for just under $5,000.
Why is pink popular now?
"People want a fresh start," says Melanie Wood, a consultant to the home fashions industry and a past president of the Color Marketing Group, an international association that forecasts color directions one to three years in advance for all kinds of products.
"Pink represents that wonderful blossom of innocence," Wood says. "It's fresh. ... It's uplifting." The Color Market-ing Group's 2003 palette includes such shades as "pinkle," a nongender-specific aged pink that the group says suggess Victorian rose gardens, and "sweetheart," depicting the romance of 1940s movies. "Cheeky" pink "recalls the blushing brides of the glamorous art deco era."
Soft pink suggests innocence, sweetness and, indeed, femininity and romance. The color of bubble gum adds a fun quality that appeals to teen and preteen girls. Fuchsia and hotter pinks are every bit as sexy and dynamic as reds.
Fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, inspired by pulsating Peruvian pinks of the Incas, made shocking pink her jaw-dropping signature in the 1930s. Now it's showing its sassy self once again.
Advertisements in the '50s urged women to "think pink." Audrey Hepburn fans won't forget her gorgeous pink taffeta gown in Funny Face (1957). Pink Cadillacs seemed a signature of the '50s, and now Ford is revisiting pink with a retro-look Thunderbird (also available in aqua, the other '50s favorite).
The reflection of pink on skin tones has long been a positive influence, and rosy cheeks connote good health. Some clothing retailers recognized that and painted their dressing room walls pink. In fact, it is said that Madame Ritz lined all the lampshades in her Paris hotel in pink because she believed the flattering glow would draw back clientele.
In the U.S., pink was once nearly taboo for men because of the pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys indoctrination. That's loosened up, especially in menswear, but some men still are uncomfortable with pink in the home, beyond the bed or bath. Wood says that is changing.
"On surfaces (such as walls, tabletops and countertops), pink has an almost chameleon quality," Wood says. "It's reflective, like white. It's light infused, and it glows, almost with an iridescence." A blush of pink can double as a neutral. The intensity of pink, and the colors teamed with it, [affects] its freshness as well as its sophistication.
In his high-end furnishings, Christopher Hyland introduced a collection of pink silks and blends combining pink with metallic gold. Pink dragonflies dance on tawny gold and beige check in a handsome Christopher Hyland silk, and that hint of taupe seems a logical partner.
"Juxtaposed with golden browny hues, it's a strong combination," Hyland says.
To introduce pink into your home, you might start small with accessories for the kitchen. Williams-Sonoma features pink spatulas and mixing bowls, and even pink grapefruit soap, floor and countertop cleaner and lotion made by Caldrea.
Or introduce some pink bath towels or bedding, some pillows or throws.
* Robert Allen, 800-240-8189 or www.robertallen design.com
* Yves Delorme, 800-322-3911 or www.yvesdelorme.com
* J. Robert Scott, 800-322-4910 or www.jrobertscott.com.
* Pottery Barn, 800-922-5507 or www.potterybarn.com
* Williams-Sonoma, 800-541-2233 or www. williams-sonoma.com
* Brewster Wallcovering Co., 800-366-1700 or www.brewster wallcovering.com