'It's a new neutral' – the best muted pinks you can buy from Sherwin Williams, and how to decorate with them

Soft, desaturated pinks mimic neutrals, making them a great base tone for your walls

A living room with a pale pink paint on the walls and neutral furnishings
(Image credit: Sherwin-Williams)

The way we use color is constantly changing, especially when it comes to neutral tones. We're all on a quest to find the ultimate base tone to cover our walls that's versatile and timeless, yet still feels current. For the most part, stark whites are out, and while magnolia walls are having a modern resurgence, many of us can't bear to face a return to the creamy tone of the 80s. Luckily though, we think we've found the answer to the new neutral - a hue that still has warmth to it but with a far fresher feel - and it's an ultra-pale pink. 

Here at Livingetc, we pride ourselves on our almost prophetic ability to know what's coming up in the world of design (I mean, it is our job, after all). Back when we had our own trend forecast in May, we all picked up on an emerging color trend for super pale pinks, and now - five months down the line - the color is cropping up across homes worldwide. Just this week, British paint brand Dulux even announced a delicate pale pink as their Color of the Year for 2024. As we seek comfort and assurance inside our homes, there was never a time when a soft pink felt more fitting. 

The thing is, while using pink all over your walls sounds great in theory, in practice, there's a risk of turning your room into an overly sweet and sickening space if you don't choose the right tone. To help you embrace the hue in place of a neutral we asked Sue Wadden, color expert at Sherwin-Williams, for her tips on picking the perfect pink shade. Here's what she had to say. 

A living room with a pale pink paint on the walls

(Image credit: Sherwin-Williams)

Pinks of all varieties are having a real moment right now. In part, it's down to the Barbiecore craze that's gripped the world since the release of the recent film, but the calming, comforting shade also offers us some solace during what is undoubtedly a tumultuous time, socially and politically.

Traditionally, as we sought sanctuary within our homes, that translated to grounding neutrals like browns, beiges, and off-whites - but now we're seeking some more playful tinges of color. 'Neutrals in general have been on the rise for a long time, but we’ve seen homeowners start to explore different kinds of neutrals that still have a bit of color to them,' explains Sue Wadden at Sherwin-Williams. 'In this case light pinks and mauves.'

Alongside the rise of neutrals, the color pink has been on a similar trajectory, giving rise to the pale pink neutral. 'This growth in popularity in the last decade is thanks to the rise of warmer, softer neutrals – where these light, earthier pinks can fall into,' says Sue. 'We’ve even dedicated an entire palette in our Sherwin-Williams Colormix Forecast for 2024, Palette No. 2, to reds and purples, and it includes some wonderful soft pinks, like Sashay Sand SW 6051, which we foresee maintaining popularity this year and the next.' 

How do you choose the right pale pink shade for a room?

A bedroom with pale pink walls and terracotta bedding

(Image credit: Dulux)

With a myriad of shades to choose from, choosing the perfect pink is easier said than done. First off, if you want to decorate with pink in a minimalist way, you need to choose a desaturated tone that's soft and subtle so that it mirrors a neutral. Look for pale pinks with yellow undertones, or, simply choose an off-white with a hint of pink thrown in. If you want something a bit cooler, chalky blue undertones will create a more mauve tone.

'To choose the right undertone, the first thing homeowners should understand is that it almost always boils down to cool versus warm,' says Sue. 'My biggest advice would be to work to what is already in the space they’re looking to paint. So, if someone is looking for a paint color for a room that has a rug or a sofa with cool undertones, they would want to choose a color with cool undertones to complement them.' 

You also have to consider the natural light conditions in your space since, as Sue notes, different lighting brings out different undertones from paint colors. 'The direction in which a room is facing, along with the type of light in the room and how much of it there is, plays a huge role in a color’s appearance,' she says. 'For example, northern sunlight emphasizes cool undertones and southern sunlight works best for warm undertones, which can make colors appear softer.'

Last but not least, the size of your space has a role to play in the way colors appear on your walls. For smaller rooms, Sue recommends going with warm undertones since they usually play into the coziness for a cocooning feel. 'For bigger rooms, on the other hand, cool undertones work best to bring a fresh and soothing atmosphere,' she adds. 

Looking for a modern way to decorate with pink? Use a pale pink shade in place of white or beige and you're sure to find your space cozier, comforting, and more uplifting. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.