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Shop Our Favorite Pastel Paint Colors (For Grown-Ups)


Pastels are having a bit of a moment (or decade, rather). While we are all comfortable buying the occasional mint napkin or blush throw pillow, there is still a lot of anxiety about choosing the right pastel paint color (if any) for your walls. The fear that it will look like a baby’s room is a legitimate one – it often can and will, forcing you to cry like that little non-existent baby whilst repainting it the safe gray that your husband/partner/lover begged you to in the first place. To prevent these divorces based on paint color, we tested and rounded up our favorite, most beautiful pastel paint colors that can live, maturely, in any room simply because they are standalone lovely colors. I love an all white room, and obviously I am a professional at painting rooms gray. But there is a world of color out there that we can use, we are just often so scared that it will look bad and not work. Well, off to the wizard, you Cowardly Lion because by the end of this post you will feel as confidant with that perfect lavender as you did with your standby taupe.

To remind you what a good pastel can do to a room …

Exhibit A: This was a girl’s bedroom but it is one of the more popular rooms I’ve ever done and yet it is a pastel. This is Quartz Stone by Benjamin Moore and I do love it very much. It didn’t make it into our top six for blue because it is fairly saturated and can go really young, but my goodness it worked here.

Emily Henderson Best Pastel Paint Rooms1

Exhibit B: Nicolette’s pink dining room which we painted Piroutte by Divine Color for Valspar. This color is fairly saturated (not a subtle tone of baby pink) so make sure you can handle that baby in your room. This didn’t make it into the final color because it is indeed too ‘pink’ to work universally, but Its a good inspiration for how pink can look grown-up.

Emily Henderson Best Pastel Paint Rooms2

Exhibit C: The beautiful Theresa’s Green by Farrow and Ball. This room color is even more gorgeous in person. So soft, soothing and happy. It made it into the top six unbeknownst to me (we didn’t look at the names while we were eliminating) and continues to be a color that I reach for often.

Emily Henderson Best Pastel Paint Rooms3

Lastly,  my guest room which was painted Old Faithful by Dutchboy was definitely on the powdery, baby side but I loved it. Ironically I redid it when I actually turned it into Elliot’s room.

Emily Henderson Best Pastel Paint Rooms4

As you can see I love to paint non-kid/baby rooms a pastel but even I have been scared that the results would look too young, especially if that kind of California/fresh/bloggy/Pinterest world isn’t your jam.

Back in the day (the 80’s and 90’s) we painted walls soft colors and they did a lot for the ambience of the space. In the aughts (early 2000’s) we went for gray in every room and the last few years has been a huge all-white trend. We, the EHD design team, are both victims and perpetrators of these color trends love (and the subsequent saturation, no pun intended) and we long for some soft, pretty colors back on our walls.

So we bought 137 pastels from our favorite paint companies (all of them, really) and tested them out. Just recommending colors based on internet research didn’t seem right this time because they really often aren’t totally accurate on screen, plus your eye is being informed by the colors near them. We wanted the best colors that could stand alone next, naked, to white. How To Pick The Best Pastel Paint

Once we received them we got to work.

How To Make A Blog Post Emily Henderson

Brady and Jeff (our PA) painted two coats of each color onto large watercolor paper and labeled them.

Brady Behind The Scenes Pastel Paints

Behind The Scenes Blog Post

After they were dry we narrowed the colors down to our favorite 6 in each color family – pink (blush), purple (lavender/lilac), blue (baby/powder), green (mint), yellow (er, really light yellow) and orange (peach). We didn’t look at the brand or the name so that our usual preferences didn’t inform the vote.

Emily Henderson Picks Pastel Paints

Decision time. Since our intent was for the walls we had to put them up against the wall. By putting them together as a family we could really discern what was going slightly too ‘bright’ or even too ‘dull’. They each had to be able to be by themselves as well as compare to others. But much like The Bachelor first impression rose, a lot of it also came down to gut reaction.


Before I reveal the winners, let me make a number of important disclaimers here.

1. While any/most colors can be BEAUTIFUL in the right space, with the right light, our goal was to choose more muted, easy to mix pastels that we considered even SAFE. We eliminated many more saturated colors that we love and might use otherwise, based on this criteria.

2. Paint colors vary a lot from room to room depending on a few things: 1. Your light (or lack therof). 2. The other colors you have in your room or 3. even the color you have underneath it. If you already have a color on the wall and you are testing a new one, the original wall color underneath and around the new one will drastically change your perception of that color. Paint on a piece of paper, like this, so you have at least some white around it.

3. Since these colors can vary in many ways, please sample these before you commit. These were our favorites but it doesn’t mean that they are going to work in everyone’s home.

4. We didn’t test every color in the world so yea, yours might not have made the cut simply because we didn’t try it.

Here you are, folks. Our favorite colors in each color family. We tried to get a variety of shades and tones of each to give you variety, but we stand by each one of these whole-heartedly.

Favorite Pastel Pink Paint

Sugarcane | Parasol | Orleans Violet | Sweet Pastel | Calamine | Organdy


Topsail | Dusky Blue | Skylight | Blue Frost unkown brand | Glass Slipper | Streetwise

Favorite Pastel Orange Paints

Setting Plaster | Pink Moiré | Coastal Cottage | Nautilus Shell | Pink Ground | Love Story

Favoirte Pastel Green Paints

Teresa’s Green | Window Pane | Mint Spritzer | Quiet Mint | White Mint | Green Cast


Pernod | Caribbean Walk | Flashpoint | Banan-appeal | Calla Lily | Pale Hound

Purple Pastel

Nosegay | Soft Silk | Violet Tinge | Unknown | Violet Dusk | Calluna Sorry that we didn’t write the fourth one’s name dark enough and now have no idea what it is. Hopefully it wasn’t your favorite. “Soft Pastel” is a generic name we made up.

While I could tell you what I love about each of those 36 colors above, it would surely get wordy, redundant and unnecessary. They are all beautiful because of the tones and pigments that make up the ultimate color – whether they go slightly redder or cooler is obvious.

However … not giving you our strong editorial expert bias seemed like a missed opportunity to fully control your opinion (and thus your home). Here, we present to you, our favorite pastel colors of each family all together as one happy, light, trendy family.


Quiet Mint | Parasol | Caribbean Walk | Coastal Cottage | Glass Slipper | Nosegay

What you might find funny to know is that we all agreed on those six colors. After staring at so many you’d think our eyes would be unable to decifer the difference, but we truly all gravitated towards these colors. They look really colorful up here, sure, but they are all so soft and beautiful that I believe they have enough sophistication and variance of tones to have real longevity on your walls. In other words – while these are ‘colors’, you won’t get sick of them like you might with other pastels.


There you have it.

Now, stop staring at that mesmerizing gif and figure out what room in your house you are going to take your pastel plunge in. Craving more color recommendations and trends head check out, 4 Colors from the 90’s that You’ll Want In Your House Right Now, Brady Picks A Gray, and some of our color trends: Powder Blue, Buttercup Yellow, Lavender and Fiesta Red.

*Pastel Mint Chair from West Elm

**This was our first color testing post and we sure had fun. Now that we’ve got the system down we are happy to do more so let us know what you want next and we’ll put it into production. Best darker/moody tones? Best bright/happy colors? Or simply Best blues? I think a ‘Best warm but not beige’ white post might be in our future because I just had to choose one for the outside of my house and man it wasn’t easy (p.s. I chose this one and I love it). 

***Photography by Jess Isaac



Fin Mark


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I would love a dark/moody tone round-up. While I very much appreciate a light and bright home, I dream of Victorian interiors rife with moody colours and sumptuous wallpapers… Sigh!

I just took the plunge myself! I re-did a small powder room attached to our living room, a soft pastel yellow for lower board and batten. Anyway, it felt weird buying the paint, but it makes me so so happy each day!


Dark/Moody next, please!


Love this post! Would love a best grey / greige or warm greys post. Also, what is your opinion on doing percentages of tints? Is there a hard + fast rule to obey when doing this?


Thank you for this post! It’s fantastic. You are the best!


I’ve been craving a pastel pink room lately but haven’t figured out WHICH room. It doesn’t help that I live with three boys and my house is mostly gray and blue.


Definitely “warm but not beige” for a future post!!


I have always been obsessed with pastels! I know this post is supposed to help us make a decision which is the perfect tone for our homes, but to be honest I like them all 🙂


WARM WHITES! Please! We just bought our first house. I’m going white! Errwhere! Help.

Thank you for this! I absolutely love pastels, especially in shades that make sense and don’t look like you are living in a nursery!

This is awesome and so happy to look at. Breathing a big sigh of relief that my Topsail living room made the cut 🙂

Best oversaturated colors and best colors for home exterior would be greatly appreciated! I’m always checking out the rowhouses in DC to decipher why one blue brick house looks fab and the other falls flat. xx


A. I bought a Martha Stewart comforter from Kmart (!) in the late 90s that is pastel colorblock that looks just like the pic of all the top colors. Still brings me great joy. (It’s been thru college and 2 daughters and is now reserved for guests, but still lovely!)

B. I was 3/6 correct when I self-quizzed abt you team’s choices! That was fun.


agree that a good “warm but not beige” white round-up would be good. as would as light gray round-up!


Awesome post thank you.
Please tell us about the char?

It is from West Elm and it is even better in person.


Wow – shocked to see Pink Ground and Coastal Cottage were considered as orange shades! I chose Coastal Cottage for my bedroom last year (ironically because it was the closest shade I could find to Pink Ground) and it’s the perfect shade of blush — think of the palest rosé and positively luminescent under morning light. Just proves how many shades of blush are available — and not all need to be a true “pink.”


An amazingly beautiful (and story to match) pastel bedroom


We painted two ceilings in our house pink ground and I LOVE them. One had dark navy walls and it served to make it more playful. The other has walls painted Dimity and it looks like a sunset. So glad that color made the list!


I love this! I am looking for heirloom jewel tone colors/vintage farmhouse. Also blue porch ceiling (haint blue) colors. If you wanted to do a post on either of those it would be so helpful!


Our guest room is painted a strange, dirty yellow (the previous owner did it, not us). I’d love to paint it one of these colors. Any of them would be a HUGE improvement. I like “Nosegay” a lot. So soothing.


Your photographs of the process are stunning. Who knew paint samples were so glamorous. Looks like fun! I’m drooling over all of these colors. I’m living in a dream world were I can paint each room of my home a different pastel.


Please do a warm white/cream tryout! I’d love to see what you choose as we’re having a hard time with that in our home!

Nicole M.

Such a fun post. As I read, I wrote down what color was my favorite in each family … and I chose the same in my top six!

I think a helpful/informative color testing post would be what white paints to pair with your favorite wall colors. It is obviously a huge trend to paint trim white, but there are so many options … and not all of them work together.


Great post, and so fun to read after your last behind-the-scenes article.

Shout out to Seasalt: it didn’t make the cut but we have it on the walls of our office and love it (in fact, I think one of your articles pointed me in its direction?). I prefer white walls, but my boys were like, “No more white walls! Color!!” So it makes us all happy.


What about a best color for … testing? I would really appreciate a “best colors for rooms that don’t get much light”. I get that white should be avoided, but it’s not easy to find something else without the funeral-parlor-effect.


OK, those three dots were meant as “[…]”. Like “best colors for a bright livingroom” or “best colors for a bedroom that doesn’t have natural light” or “best colors to make a room feel cozier” or something like that.


I love this. Organdy will have to find a way into my home somehow. My request is that you talk about wall color choices with respect to trim. So often the trim is white in your rooms, and many beautiful rooms online. Suppose that isn’t an option. How do things change when the trim is a wood-tone? I’d also love an education is mixing cool and warm as you move between rooms in a house. Is that recommended or to be avoided? Balance, or confusion? I have yet to learn. Thanks for the awesome post, Team Emily!

This was an awesome post (as always, but isn’t it more pleasant when we repeat it ?). We were on the market for a very, very light pink, and ended up with F&B’s Middleton pink for our bathroom. It’s not up yet, but I have a good feeling about it ! We considered Calamine, but it was to grey-ish and didn’t make the cut. The ones you chose are awesome, and the photos really give a sense of the colors ! For a next post, I have a personal request: how to make your house coherent and pleasant ? We are in the process of renovating our house, and I absolutely love each new room: I have a sunny light green, white and wood kitchen, adjacent to a black-walled, leather and peacock velvet living room without any window; when you go upstairs, our bedroom has chocolate walls and white trims, the home office is Oval room blue by F&B, with a hot pink door leading to an upcoming pastel pink and marble bathroom. Upstairs again (hello rowhouse), the kids have baby-blue bedrooms, and a tiny black and white bathroom with turquoise ceiling. Finally, the newly renovated guest bedroom/playroom, which is… Read more »


I want to see your house! It sounds amazing!!


I agree with the request for tips on a cohesive palette throughout the house. Also, dark and moody would be helpful. Can I do light and airy AND dark and moody in the same house?


This post is so helpful! I despise picking out paint colors because I always think it will be so easy and it NEVER is. Now I just need to convince my husband that we need to paint our living room organdy. 🙂

You guys should totes consider doing a post on best vinyl siding and brick combos. Or maybe I’m the only one struggling with what color to do for our siding that will match with the brick? Either way, any exterior house stuff would be cool!

Emily K

I second this! A post on what paint colors pair best with various building materials like brick, stone, slate, etc. An entire post alone could cover brick with all it’s different color options. I have a red brick fireplace that I don’t think I’m going to paint but I’m afraid any color I choose for the wall will instantly make the room go country.


Oh, I feel your pain with the fireplace. Our house has a red/brownish brick fireplace and I had an awful hard time picking out a wall color that wouldn’t look terrible with it. I want to paint the fireplace white, but my husband likes it the way it is, so it’s going to stay the way it is for now I suppose.


Ooh! How intriguing, paints to work with existing fireplaces. Another vote.


So this might not solve your problem but maybe take a look! Daniel from Manhattan Nest just cleaned up an old fireplace with red/orange/green terracotta tiles (I know, not brick like yours). Anyway, the tile is definitely not everyone’s taste but I was super impressed with his choice in paint colour on the walls. I found that it made me like the fireplace so much more. A colour like that might take your fireplace away from “country”… especially if most other things in your room had clean lines or more modern touches.
*not affiliated with MN or EHD in anyway… just a fan!


Sorry, the above comment about the fireplace was meant for Emily K!

Emily K

Awesome! I will definitely check it out! When we first moved in 2 years ago I was totally set on painting the fireplace white. But then as I got to looking at fireplace before and afters online I found that in nearly every instance I preferred the befores. The white fireplaces never looked as good to me as the original brick. Usually what they really needed to do was swap out the mantel or change the wall color not paint the brick. My fireplace is blessed to have a simple sleek limestone mantel and hearth. My existing wall color is a yellowish greenish off-white that just looks dirty. Bleah.


How about a post on picking fresh exciting front door colors?

Great post, and I love yesterday’s post showing all the work that went into this post! I think a navy/moody paint test would kill it too! Or, the best paint colors for your exterior, because it’s a totally different and torturing process to decide what exterior colors look best…


I’m looking for the perfect baby chicky yellow – like a newborn chick fresh from the egg. You provided a good start with your yellows, maybe take one of those and good brighter. 🙂

LA Lady

Exterior House colors! So easy to go wrong there. Also, do you know which Violet Tinge it is? I see there is one from Dulux and another from Glidden. Thanks.


This post is soo good! This is why I love this blog. This is something I’ve never seen done before! You guys(the EM Squad) are the best!! Keep the original content coming!!


I’ve never been afraid of using color & pastels are favorites…and that velvet chair makes me want to cry it’s so perfectly lovely!

um, yay for paint and everything but WHERE did you get your wedges from these GIFs?? They’re so, so cute!!

When we bought our house 5 years ago I was so sick of living in rentals with all white walls that we painted every room in our house a color. Our bedroom and my office ended up with two slightly different shades of light grayish blue. Our living room was supposed to be a true gray but after we painted it we realized that in most light it looked powder blue. I was really annoyed at the time with how it turned out but now pretty happy with my light powder blue living room.

Emily P.

The post I have been searching the entire world wide web for, and have yet to find, is ‘The Best Pairings of off-whites and whites for walls and moulding’. I would love to see a list of the 5 or 10 best/most popular/most benign yet beautiful off-whites and their slightly whiter trim color soulmate!!! Every blog post about white/off-white paint ends each color summary with, ‘also great for trim and mouldings’. I need a ‘BM Cloud White is a dreamy off-white without yellow or pink and goes perfectly with BM Simply White trim. Stay away from BM White Dove for coordinating trim because of x,y,z’. Pretty please add this to your projects list! Thanks!!


Yesssss! I’ve been searching for a post on layering whites too!


Ditto on the soulmate white pairs request!

Hi Emily P, I read a lovely design book called Absolutely Beautiful Things by Anna Spiro (Australian designer) and she recommends that if you are painting your walls white, then you should paint every trim and ceiling and wall in the same white. This will stop the room from looking too complicated and busy. I wish I had read this advice before I did the exact opposite – my ceilings and trims are a different white to my walls and stand out, but not in a good way. Hope this helps! (And I’d love to know Emily Henderson’s thoughts on this advice????)

Emily P.

Thanks, Katie! I will check it out. I am currently priming our sage green (1990s) living room to paint it a creamy off-white. I want the walls to look off-white with no yellow, pink, or tan and also not bright white, which is why I actually want the trim to be a more pure white than the walls. I totally get what you are saying though, because some whites just clash against some off-whites. I’d also love to know Emily’s thoughts on this!!

Wow. This is so helpful and so chock-full of information. And after reading your last post about how it all came together, I am even more impressed. The next time I see/hear a journalist complain about bloggers not being “experts” I will point that crackpot to this blog and this post. Congrats!

Oops that was supposed to be “crankpot” but auto-correct fixed it because it’s not really a word. But now it is! Hahaha!


Love these!

We painted my daughter’s nursery Pink Ground – no regrets! It’s such a lovely feminine colour without that cloying girliness that pale pinks and peaches can sometimes have.


Had to save this for when we sell our house and have to repaint nearly every room. Plus, I read your blog on how an idea becomes an actual blog post and it impressed the hell out of me.

You’re right that pastels kind of get pushed into the nursery-room niche. But, the choices you have here feel really fresh. I guess that’s where the subtleties of tone and styling really keep a look updated.


Please do a taupe/beige/whites roundup. Then maybe it’ll trickle through to the rental market. I seriously picked my apartment because the (white) wall paint is primarily matte and has less yellow in it (the high gloss in the bathroom can go very yellow in certain lights). If rentals HAVE to be in taupes or whites can’t they be flattering?


Your paint posts are the ones I go back to all the time so I love that you did another one. I will admit, these colors are terrifying — but I think I would do try one of these colors in a bathroom. This post had to take a gazillion days to put together. And I would love to know how many of those west elm chairs sell today because Damn!! that’s a beautiful chair.


I love these paint posts!! Yes, please to the “warm whites,” and maybe also a “best neutrals”? And maybe a post on how to pick trim colors based on your chosen wall color?


I would LOVE LOVE if you would do a post on painting exterior brick and color options!! (even warm whites could work here…white is hard!!) And/or fun front door paint options!! I love all you do Emily…I painted my interiors one of the grays you recommended in a previous post!! Keep up the good work!

How about same colour different brand? I’ve always wondered how Farrow & Ball or Ralph Lauren paint compare to Dulux or a color-match on the hardware stores cheapest base. Also up for dark and moody!

Emily K

Yes!!!! I definitely get whatever color I’m interested in mixed in valspar or similar paint. I’ve heard experts say that for instance a BM color mixed in valspar paint doesn’t look the same but I’m not convinced. I want to see proof! Also I LOVE Farrow and Ball colors but the formulas aren’t in the computer at the big box home stores and the closest F&B stores are 1.5 hours away. Do I have any other option for getting something that matches Teresa’s Green and Hague Blue?


We just purchased a new house with oak trim and…I think I might prefer it to white. It’s so much easier to keep it looking clean. But (!) paint colors are trickier now since they have to play well with the trim. I’d love a post about how to choose wall colors that coordinate with trim that is a color other than white, but will read whatever you decide to write!

rachelle bell

Beautiful post!!! I want to see the best brass and black hardware roundup! Pretty pleaseeeeee


Love this post!!!!! I would love to see moody/saturated colors and dark blue/green/grey/black cabinet painting colors for kitchen bath, etc!


Wish I could paint every room pastel without it looking insane/ like an homage to those 80s pastel mini marshmallows. These are gorgeous.


This is a great post at a perfect time for me. I am trying to pick a color for our dining room and living room which are currently a weird, dark yellow color. I am leaning towards not white, not gray, but greige? but I also pulled White Mint from Sherwin Williams the other day and am really just looking for a color that can act as a neutral but has some life. Also, dark and moody would be great although I just finally picked my “dark and moody” color for my back bedroom yesterday, Sherwin Williams Derbyshire. Doesn’t look like a whole lot by itself, but the image here: really sold me on it. Maybe a post on keeping paint colors cohesive throughout the house or dealing with very different colors in adjoining rooms? Would love to see more of these posts and it’s fun to see the actual post after seeing the behind-the-scenes!

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