Color Trends 2012 – Fall Pastels

The greyed pastels of twilight in BEHR paint colors image from House Beautiful Sept 2012  – but I can’t find my online source  – it was a Tweet! Tweet me if this was your image so I can credit you! Thanks to Lisa H. for the HB credit!

Fall Pastels are almost an oxymoron – but Pantone’s color predictions for 2013 – 2014 point to a 2-year span of color trends heavily influenced by, and inclusive of pastel palettes.

Pastels, although light and fresh can pose interesting color challenges in interior design schemes, when the goal is to create a sophisticated color story. Pastels can easily cause your design plan to regress to an Easter-egg palette that falls far short of a sophisticated or adult design, but there is more than one way to skin a color….

The image above demonstrates a quintessential palette (in BEHR paint colors) of Fall pastels that entice and deliver color that is at once shimmering and light, yet also sophisticated and grown-up – in thanks to the addition of a touch of grey.  If you have ever tried your hand at landscape painting or photography, you are well aware of the variation in the quality of light cast between morning and late afternoon. Impressionist Claude Monet was obsessed with the contrast between the values of light cast at differing times of day, and painted series of paintings of identical subject matter to illustrate the variations in color that occur in context to differences in lighting.

Monet’s Haystacks Morning and Twighlight


Morning light is crisper (top image), and unforgiving throwing objects into sharp relief and lacking in any indulgence in the manner in which it conveys color to the eye. Late afternoon light is much easier on the eye, and alters the manner in which color is perceived, blurring the color distinctions between objects and shadow.

Utilizing greyed pastels has the identical effect on your color scheme indoors.

Mint spearmint with matt grey ceramic mug by @Suus Notenboom

The addition of grey to a pastel palette adds instant sophistication, easing the application of color so that anyone can achieve an expert result. Yes, all of you who visit frequently have heard my scriptures on gray…

Tan vs Gray RGB

Gray is the one true neutral.

If you mix equal parts of colors in opposing positions on the color wheel (compliments) that are hues equal in value (or saturation) they combine in every case to create gray.

While grays vary slightly in influence (warm grays, blue grays, lavender grays) the measure of their RGB (Red, Blue, Green saturation values) will line up right down the center in every case. Grey’s chameleon-like properties allow it to both flatter and absorb the essence of color it is placed beside – and colors with grey added to the mix (in the form of a bit of black pigment to pastels which include allot of white) invariably function beautifully side by side.

The addition of cooler beige tones to a grey-tinted mix adds muted definition, creating anything but dull neutral palettes.

image via

Now add your pastels and voila! Color palettes that work with predictable ease.

Bemz Artist Series Cushion covers – image via their website

I love the un-decorate vibe associated with the updated use of pastel palettes and chalky tones. It’s casual and uncluttered, although spartan in storage and real functionality – but beware of a look that is so over-prevalent in room design. The rule of style saturation is that it’s the mark of a look destined not to be long-lived.

Here’s a simple rule to assist you in creating a look that is at once comfortable and contemporary: For every roughly-hewn rustic surface, balance that element with an element sporting an opposing “shiny” finish. Below, I’ve created and inspiration board with some eclectic elements to illustrate:

This simple expedient will separate your design elements, in much the same manner as the morning and evening light, and interject sparkle and interest in your design – as well as balance.

If you are not sold on gray when all is said and done, and your comfort zone still lies in Khaki, all is not lost – you just need a different easy rule to guide your color choices.

A Sherwin Williams fan-deck

When you use beige tones with lighter color range, choose a color hue from the gradient range in the center, or one color down from the middle hue with your beige / tan tones.

The relationship between middle tones ang khaki is always more successful than khaki tones in combination with pastels.

The color will still appear soft, but the addition of contrast in hue creates a much more sparkling color combination in your room – if you’re not sure on this point, look in your closet and do some research.

Try some Fall pastels to dress up your space for the holidays, and a great departure from bumper sticker holiday color stories!