Soft colors are the pale hues that reside at the tips of color chips in a fan deck. Quite often, they get overlooked as their loud and intense relatives grab all the attention. However, these hues are not wallflowers. Combined with other soft shades, they create romantic and light-filled spaces. Lilac, cream, and blush, for example, are a sweetly luminous combination that brightens even the darkest rooms. You can also pair soft colors with strong shades, because the contrast makes both more vivid. Fresh mint, for example, pops against a backdrop of peacock blue. Soft shades look as if they've been doused with white paint, which gives you a clue about how to make them: If you have a color that turns out too strong for your liking, stir in white paint until you get a whispery shade.
Decide how you want to dive in and start with our soft paint color picks to help you create your look. Note: Actual colors may appear differently than on screen. Always consult paint color chips. Palettes designed by Khristian A. Howell.
For a cozy, restful bedroom space, romantic purples and pinks make sense. To keep the colors from becoming too dozy, inject strong black accents into the scheme, such as a black poster bed and dresser against blush-color walls, or a black-and-white-pattern duvet cover folded over lavender sheets. To make the windows an eye-catching focal point, pick a stronger version of the color, such as plum or hibiscus, for fabric curtains or shades.
Soft shades are very livable colors, and the quiet environments they create are perfect for entertaining spaces where you want the people to be the focus. In a living room, hues like candlelight, honey, and buttercream are neutral and warm. Use them on the walls and flooring, then install a camel-color sofa for a chic monochromatic scheme. If you want more color, try a complementary blue, such as sea glass or cornflower, for accent chairs.
To rev the taste buds in a dining room, soft colors provide the perfect low-key environment. They won't overpower the food, and they flatter skin tones with their luminescence. A particularly elegant combination is peach fizz, honeysuckle, and dove gray. Use the peachy hues on the walls, above and below chair rail molding to create a two-tone look. For the gray hue, select a brushed nickel chandelier and display a variety of silver collectibles, such as candlesticks and platters.
Soft blues and greens are trending strongly in kitchen design, particularly because they work equally well with modern, traditional, and eclectic cabinet styles. For wall colors, use aqua with sleek, contemporary white cabinets; pale Colonial blue with traditional maple or cherry cabinets; and pistachio or light teal in a unique setting. To choose paint colors for the cabinets themselves, stick to soft shades of tan and gray, which will work well with a variety of countertop materials.
For the bathroom, where you want to feel clean and rejuvenated, try a soft shade of fresh green. Wall paint colors like aloe, cucumber, lotus, and frosty lime, are appealingly light, but they still have enough verve to keep the space lively. Pair one of them with crisp white subway tiles, sprightly yellow towels, and a vanity in a pale wood tone like bamboo.
Cast an inviting welcome in your entryway with a soft color. Look to adjacent spaces to inspire your color choice. Shades like ecru, blush, and linen will come across as warm, while colors like pale blue or sage impart serenity. If your entryway receives plenty of natural light, thanks to a glass-paned door or ample sidelights, a soft color will give the space an ethereal glow.