Decorating with pastel colours

Decorating with pastel colours

Autumn may be hoving into view, but it's always time to embrace pale pinks, baby blues and lilacs

By Coco Piras

They're unashamedly feminine colours and pastel homewares can add a calming light touch to your interior decoration. Seasonal flowers - real and silk - can be obvious source for pastels, particularly hydrangeas. Photograph above by Vicuschka.

The definition of pastel is 'a soft and delicate shade of a colour'; and while a pastel grey is eminently possible, for many of us, the word pastel conjures up pale pinks, blues, greens, lilacs and possibly yellows.

And if it's not too sexist a generalisation, pastels certainly at the pink end of the spectrum are more the preserve of the female of the species - who oft lament when they move in with a that paratrooper, trawlerman or lumberjack that the candy pink bedspread, the pale pink cushions, and the bright pink towels must move out so gender neutral taupes may prevail.

And while no mature woman wants to live in a sugar plum fairy palace, she may harbour desires for baby pinks and blues well into old age...

Joking aside, soft colours do make a refreshing change from neutrals, and it's good to see that pastels have been much in evidence in interior collections this year.

Earthborn's Ecolabel clay paint comes in a soft chalky palette. From £31 for 2.5L.
Branksome china is known for its two-tone ceramics in lovely pastels. Products made in Stoke on Trent. Mugs £16.50 at
Linen fabrics from UK textile designer Vanessa Arbuthnott's new Artisan collection, which features soft hues and contemporary geometric patterns.
Chocolate Creative's plywood and painted wall hooks, £15 each. Depth 5.3cms, dia 7cms.
Pastel blue A++ rate TR4110 range cooker from Smeg, from £1,999,
Stardust Stripes, pastel linens from de le Cuona,
FSC-cert wooden birds by Jacob Pugh in various pastel colours, from £30.
British-made European goose down-filled silk taffeta eiderdowns from Counting Lambs.

So it's a question of balance because too much pastel and things become twee and sugary. You might choose some pastel tableware, or accent pieces such as vases or bowls, or have a pale/washed out palette for your artworks.

Delicious looking hooks from Chocolate Creative

Spanish designer Margarita Lorenzo of south London-based Chocolate Creative believes functional objects should be as eco-friendly as possible and eye-catchingly appealing. So her best-selling plywood knobs (perfect if you're upcycling an old chest of drawers) and wall hooks look as delicious as a plate of macaroons with their painted tops - you certainly won't want to cover up the hook faces with coats...

Lorenzo's partner hand-makes her designs in the company's studio in Gran Canaria, where she comes from, and she uses wood from sustainable sources and water-based paints. 'I do consider the environmental impact of what we do and for that reason we always try to use sustainable materials, we make in small batches, we don't create waste, and we avoid noxious chemicals.

'And I like to design products that are both lovely to look at and to use.'

Silk eiderdowns from Counting Lambs

Silk is woven from threads taken from the cocoons of Bombyx mori silk worms. Given that the cocoons are placed in boiling water before the caterpillars can hatch, there's always been debate about the ethicality of silk production. However, silk is a sustainable fibre and for many people it's the most beautiful natural fibre. And while shouldn't be left in strong sunlight, silk is also very hard-wearing.

So if you're ok with silk, you will love the silk taffeta-covered eiderdowns from new UK company Counting Lambs, which manufactures its gorgeous products in Norfolk and Devon. The eiderdowns, available in soft pastels, are filled with goose down from European farms that breed geese for their down rather than for meat. Prices from around £500, which may sound expensive but these silk eiderdowns will become heirloom pieces. 

Linen cushions from Scandinavian brand Linum, from
Danish homewares brand Oyoy's new organic cotton Dream Dot cushions, 40x60cms, come in faded blue, green and pink.
Medium Skyline Stoneform small vase, H19cms, £390, by Peter Layton at
German ceramicist Christine Ruff loves soft colours and organic shapes
Madeleine polka dot lilac organic cotton range from Ochre & Ocre.
Paper rose, £17.95,
Chocolate scented candles in china coffee cups that can be re-used, £7.99,

Claypaints from Earthborn

Of course you might want to paint your walls in a soft pastel, and paint companies, as with their fabric counterparts, don't stint on colours. But if you want a brand that has good eco credentials and a carefully edited colour palette that centres around the pale and interesting, consider the claypaints from Earthborn Paints or paints from Edward Bulmer's Pots of Paint brand.

Linens from de Le Cuona

For linen upholstery fabric, luxury textile brand de Le Cuona has a wide array of linens in different weights, drapes and textures, including Monet, its new soft embroidered collection in muted colours. It's sold by the pattern repeat, which is 55cm long, at £132.

For organic cotton and linen, see UK textile designer Vanessa Arbuthnott's collections. Buy fabric by the metre and she also sells some pieces of upholstered furniture.  For organic cotton table/kitchen linens for kitchens see collections at Ochre & Ocre

For fresh linen cushions, online brand Scandi Living has high quality products by Linum, while upcycling enthusiasts should keep an eye on cushions by Welsh Blankets, which turns vintage fabrics into stylish cushions.

LSA's set of four glass champagne flutes, £29.95, at Annabel James.
Classic Eric Magnussen EM77 vacuum flasks in pastel colours. Made by Denmark's Stelton from recyclable  ABS plastic
Finnish classic made by Iittala, the Kastehelmi glass bowls, around £20, are available at
Set of four bamboo silk napkins by organic fabric specialists Lancaster & Cornish, £24
super pretty 8m length of pastel LED fairy lights from, £37.50

Decorative pieces

A few carefully chosen objets are a great way of indulging a colour passion without overkill. 

Bath-based furniture and product maker Matt Pugh has a great palette for his decorative contemporary owls and birds, made from FSC European oak or sustainable American walnut, which can have the tops of their heads painted in many colours, including soft pinks, greens and blues. Small birds cost £30.

Always keep an eye out for a vase in a colour your love and for pastels, German ceramicist Christine Ruff is well worth looking at - she ships to the UK and has stockists here - as are the amazing glass designs of London Glassblowing's Peter Layton. Berryred has some charming strings of LED lights that resemble beads in pastel colours. Lovely around a mantelpiece. £37.50 for an 8m length.

For pastel ribbons and fabrics in organic fibres, check out Lancaster & Cornish. They offer a set of four bamboo silk napkins in a soft shell pink for £24, for example.

The pretty and the practical

Tableware is an ideal vehicle in which to indulge a love of a specific colour. Vintage British brand Branksome China, which made its name after the war with its two-tone colours, has some lovely colour combinations, including soft blues and pinks.

Products that used to be sold in utilitarian steel such as cookers and coffee pots are now finished shades that span the colour spectrum; so if you want a range cooker in baby blue brands such as Smeg or Britannia will oblige. 

And the classic Eric Magnussen vacuum flask made by Danish company Stelton now comes in in myriad colours, from vibrant red to pale green. Widely available, they're made in hardwearing ABS plastic which is recyclable - should you want to know more about the recycling of this type of plastic see here.