Monday, June 27, 2022 Jun 27, 2022
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Pink Is The New Neutral

Interior designer Patrick McElwee shows us how to use this sophisticated color.
By D Magazine |

Gray looks smashing next to pink, says Patrick McElwee, who has donned a gray chalk striped suit, pink check shirt, and silk tie from Ralph Lauren, courtesy of Stanley Korshak. An armchair designed by Pierre Chareau, circa 1922, is covered in steel blue Diamonds pattern by Great Plains. Floss white hanging light fixture, Taraxacum 2, pops next to a wall painted in Benjamin Moore’s subdued Pink Powder Puff (flat). Photography by Manny Rodriguez

The New Neutral
Pink accessories can pump up a boring room like nothing else. But when used as a backdrop throughout, pink becomes a sophisticated neutral that is both tailored and masculine. Interior designer Patrick McElwee shows us how.

Famed decorator Sister Parish was a master colorist who often used pink lavishly as a neutral. Patrick McElwee, ASID, developed a passion for pink during a one-year stint with Parish-Hadley in New York and has used it ever since. McElwee says: Mrs. Parish used pink with a fearlessness that would make a sailor blush. One of her most photographed rooms had aubergine walls and bright pink curtains with spectacular antiques and upholstery. After more than 30 years, the photos of this room are still arresting. 

Parish once did a pink dining room with white painted chairs, multicolor fabrics, and a riot of blooming plants that were so cheerful that one couldn’t possibly be sad in there. Chintz has fallen from fashion in recent years, but there is nothing like it to introduce a crisp freshness to a room. Pink happens to look fabulous in chintz and can be tailored enough not to simper.

McElwee Says:
I recently designed a modern room with black and white furniture, limestone floors, white walls, and two hot pink chair seats for punch.

I have learned over the years that flat painted pink walls can be pretty if it’s a pale color.

For richer color, I would always glaze the walls to give the color more depth and interest.

Custom wool Stark Carpet, Tapis Aubusson    Peter Fasano wall covering, Zanzibar, in ash    China Seas linen geometric print, Aga, in brown on tint    Black lacquer wooden bowl with mother-of-pearl inlay    Great Plains mohair silk, Silk & Sexy, in Chinchilla    6 Woven Theory wood window blind, Kayata    Anigre high-gloss furniture wood


McElwee Says:
Tonny Foy did an apartment in New York that was all pale gray and white, using a pale pink fabric on a modern sofa. This is a great example of how introducing a single color to a room can spark it to life.

I recently saw a dining room that Bunny Williams did with black silk striped walls and bright pink chairs that was very grand and elegant.

Custom wool Stark Carpet, No. 3359    Manuel Canovas cotton and linen fabric, Serena    3 Peter Fasano wallpaper, Kevin’s Pink    4 Rogers & Goffigon Ltd. linen and cotton, Nevis, in milk    5 Two vintage tortoiseshell boxes from a private collection   1960s vintage seashell box   French-Brown walnut herringbone wood floor

McElwee Says:
Pink gets a bad rap for being too girly. But it can be very tailored. Toughen it up with dark green or brown accents.

I love pink toile. Upholstering the walls and doing the curtains in the same fabric is a really pretty look. Manuel Canovas and Old World Weavers have new examples that are gorgeous.

1 Custom wool Stark Carpet, No. 3505    Holly Hunt Collection pink leather, Umbria, in Capri pink     3 Great Plains velvet, Cotton Velvet, in chocolate    4  Brunschwig & Fils silk, Volange Taffeta Stripe, in jaune et rose   5 Clarence House embossed brown wallpaper, Crocodile, in Havana    6 Multicolored shell-shaped Murano glass bowl