The Power of Pink

By Lesley Myrick

Don't underestimate this humble hue

Millennial pink. It’s a soft, peachy, pinky, blushy, apricot hue. It’s like baby pink, but not. But it’s not Barbie pink either. So what is it exactly? A slightly dirty pastel pink? Pale salmon? Even experts disagree on exactly what millennial pink is. But trust me, you’ll know it when you see it because it’s everywhere in interiors, fashion and cosmetics.

Why is everyone going nuts for this hard-to-identify hue? “For one thing, with millennial pink, gone is the girly-girl baggage; now it’s androgynous,” said Lauren Schwartzberg of New York magazine. “It’s been reported that at least 50 percent of millennials believe that gender runs on a spectrum — this pink is their genderless mascot.”

Pink is universally flattering and has proven its sticking power in the design world. This shade started making an appearance back in 2012 and officially earned the moniker “millennial pink” in 2016. Its popularity is showing no signs of slowing down in 2018. And yes, even I, a lover of all things teal, mustard and jewel-toned, have a soft spot for soft pink.

Maybe it’s because I’m now the mom of a sweet little girl and nothing is cuter than a chubby baby in pale pink striped pajamas? Or perhaps it’s because I’ve realized how darn flattering blush pink clothes are on me? (And on most everyone, really.) Or maybe I’m just drinking the pink-tinted Kool-Aid that social media is feeding me? Regardless, I’m late to the pink party, but now I’m fully on board.

Millennial pink is soft, warm, subtle and welcoming. My late grandmother Henrietta understood the power of pink decades before millennial pink was even a “thing.” She always had soft pink lightbulbs in her table lamps, which as a child I found to be very odd. But now? Kudos to you, Grandma. I have major respect for her understanding of color and commitment to creating a flattering ambiance for her guests. I’ve realized my Grandma was the ultimate hipster, setting the trend and embracing millennial pink decades before it was cool and before millennials were even born.

If pink lightbulbs aren’t your thing (and let’s be real, they’re quite dated and not many people’s thing in 2018), a little touch of pink at home can go a long way. Interior design is all about the mix, and I like millennial pink best paired with colors and textures that bring a little edge to it. My favorite unexpected color pairing? Pale pink with Army green. This juxtaposition of soft and tough, polished and rough, feminine and masculine, color and neutral is a surefire recipe for success. I’m also into pale pink with bright coral. Do some people think these clash together? Sure. But I, like legendary interior designer David Hicks, “have always had a passion for what some people consider clashing colors. I call them vibrating colors.”

Pink paired with black and white is crisp, cute and just a little retro. Pink with aqua is fresh and playful. But on their own, each combo can be a little juvenile. Introduce some leafy greenery, natural textures like weathered wood or a hip, hammered metallic accent, and you’re in business.

If you’re feeling brave, grab a paintbrush and try a soft pink paint on the ceiling of your master bedroom or bathroom. A pink ceiling is a subtle shift in a room that will bring a majorly happy change. Don’t be surprised if you just look better in those rooms, especially in your birthday suit. Just sayin’. Pink really is flattering!

I realize not everyone’s going to be into slapping pink paint on their walls or ceilings. But don’t be afraid of introducing pink in other ways. Art, accent pillows, window treatments and area rugs are less permanent options that you can change out if and when millennial pink ever grows up and out of fashion.

So, is there anywhere I wouldn’t do pink? You bet. Despite selecting the visual example of an all-pink dining room to accompany this article, I actually find that much pink to be totally overwhelming. More isn’t necessarily better, and being swallowed by soft pink walls isn’t my idea of a good time.

I’d also steer clear of all-pink tile, flooring and other surfaces that are a big investment and need some staying power. Millennial pink might be cool now, and maybe even in five years, but the likelihood of you swooning over your pale pink bathroom tile in 2028 is pretty slim. You have no idea how many retro pink tiles I’ve purged from outdated bathrooms over my 13 years in the design industry.

All trends come and go. And despite its relative longevity in the world of color trends, millennial pink is no exception. I never recommend making a design decision just because something is on-trend, but if you’ve been intrigued by this sweet pink, think of it like a summertime fling instead of a long-term romance. Have some fun! Flirt with a little pink in a piece of art or a table lamp. Or perhaps try out a pink lightbulb to see if my grandma was on to something.

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