Think Pink

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The hot color of the moment is decidedly unbeige

After years of neutrals—beige on beige, white on white and layers of grays—suddenly color is all decorators, designers and trend spotters can talk about. Some embrace green, particularly pistachio, while others have taken to blue, from aqua to marine. But it’s pink that’s the surprise of the moment.

Last fall, color prognosticators started to mumble “think pink.” By the holidays, the mumble had turned to a roar when Pantone, the world-renowned authority on color, predicted that a certain “honeysuckle pink” would be the 2011 color of the year. That sealed the deal. In the interior design and fashion business, when Pantone speaks everyone listens.

Pink—as in hot, sweet, powerful, sexy and, at times, sassy. Pink—on walls, chairs, carpets, as an accent or a statement. Pink is everywhere. Lamps, linens and pillows inspired by India and Palm Beach are on every stylist’s hit list.

As I write this, the March issue of House Beautiful has landed on my desk. Its cover story is “The Power of Pink!” One sees a niche with nectar soda walls, a deep peony velvet chair next to two octagonal Indian tables, hot pink and bright Suzani pillows on a classic camelback sofa covered in an Indian block print. It immediately brings to mind a comment by the late Diana Vreeland, famed editor-in-chief of both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and later the curator of fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Pink,” she proclaimed, “is the navy blue of India!”

If you have been to India, Rajasthan in particular, you know she was right. Women wear saris in blazing tones of pink, from magenta to fuchsia, to stand out from the arid desert landscape as they walk down a road, work in a field or putter around a palatial palace. Palaces and fortress walls are often made of pink marble or red sandstone. Rose petals float atop water in decorative vessels and bathtubs; garlands drape the necks of various deity.

The pink of Palm Beach is more akin to bubble gum or 1960s nail lacquer (think Revlon’s Love That Pink): very old-school, blue-blood Lilly Pulitzer meets Jackie Kennedy. A favorite foil is Kelly green, the ultimate preppie combo. Pink velvet or linen on an ottoman gives a room a fresh focal point. Slapping bright pink on a flea-market table or console zips up a room in nothing flat. If that’s too scary for you, a bowl of azaleas, hydrangeas or roses will do for a start.

Pink has been in fashion for several seasons. Where fashion goes, interior tends to follow.

Face powder and blush colors—once referred to as “nude”—are now dubbed “pink.” Molly Sims’ bright lip-gloss smile can be seen on the cover of More magazine; she’s wearing a flesh-colored gown with a hint of pink. Chico’s magalog features a model wearing a pale pink jacket, pink lipstick, pink stone-accented bangles and earrings and strappy pink heels. Inside, pink is teamed with brown, tan, white and even other pinks.

Those color combos, along with bright aqua, sunflower-yellow and raspberry, work as well for interiors as trendy ensembles. Newell Turner, House Beautiful editor-in-chief, says he believes “there’s a pink for every person, men included.” He remembers wearing pink button-down oxford-cloth shirts in college. Before Pantone’s proclamation, Turner had painted a guest bedroom Sherwin-Williams Possibly Pink (SW6308), and he isn’t changing it. “I slept in that room while I painted the master bedroom, and now my green bedroom feels a bit down.”

There is little more flattering to a woman (and a turn-on for a man) than a room that reflects pink on the complexion. A secret of decorators for years has been the use of pink lightbulbs or pink silk lining in lampshades. It does wonders for the skin; makes one look baby-cheeks pretty.

In a dining room, pink linens are oh-so ladylike; deep pink napkins brighten a dark wood table. In a kitchen, raspberry toile has always been a staple for cushions and curtains. For a porch or a living room, pink-and-white-striped fabric makes the perfect spring-into-summer slipcovers. Toss broad-striped deep pink durries on the floor and watch what happens. Pink drapes filter the right amount of lightness and add a very sophisticated touch to any room.

When asked how he explains the renewed popularity of pink, Turner says, “Pink has the power to lift your spirit. It’s the color of optimism.”

In these times, you can’t ask for more.