Pastel Paint Colors

Friends, spring has sprung and brought with it a welcome sense of renewal and optimism! What better way to capture the spirit of the season than by splashing a fresh coat of paint on our walls to energize our living spaces? Nothing says “Spring” quite like a cheerful palette of pastel colors like pink, baby blue, or lavender. If you’re looking to give your home a zesty revamp that will even put some “Spring” in your step, look no further than my pastel paint palette of bright and airy hues.

The atrium of the Villa Rocabella in the South of France.
The atrium of the Domaine Rocabella in southern France featuring lovely pastels everywhere. I profiled this property in this blog post last year.

So, open your windows, grab your paint brush, and let’s get to it! 

What Are Pastels?

Colors which have been mixed with white are called “pastels.” In other words, in the language of color theory, tinted hues. 

The word “pastel” comes to the English language via the French pastel, which in turn comes from the Italian pastello. In the latter cases, the terms refer to the pastel art medium—works of art created using pastel crayons. The word “pastel” and its cognates all derived from the Ancient Greek word for “paste.” This makes sense, given that pastel colors have a pale, “chalky” quality.

Pastel colors for art.
The word “pastel” as we use it in English is derived from the pastel art medium. Pastel crayons are used to color and create artwork images as opposed to paints.

In Spanish, the word pastel refers to cake and other flour confections and is also derived from the same Ancient Greek word for “paste,” which also means “dough”.  The French cognate is pâtisserie, which is practically an art form in flour. A pâtissier whips up vast array of pastel-colored, mouth-watering treats! 

French pastries in the window at a Patisserie.
Delicious pastries lined up at a window of a French patisserie in Paris.
Carl Marletti pastries (patisseries) from PAris.
Confections from renowned Parisian patissier Carl Marletti.

Pastel Paint Colors in the Home 

Over the past decade or so, grays and bright whites have pretty much dominated the home paint color market. Of course, other colors have started to break into the mainstream in recent years. For example, very dark blues and greens. However, the market has mostly relegated these colors to kitchen design. Aside from the passing fad of “Millennial Pink” around 2015, we have certainly not seen much in the way of pastels.  

Of course, in the 1980s and 1990s pastel paint colors were extremely popular in interior design. This pastel revival was spurred by a handful of brief design movements, including the English Romantic style, which favored delicate, feminine hues. Further, the “Southwest” design trend incorporated pastel shades inspired by the desert landscape, while Shabby Chic interiors often featured worn, vintage-inspired furniture and decor in soft tints.

Laura Ashley 1980s bedroom.
Laura Ashley was one of the most notable purveyors of the English Romantic look popular in the 1980s. The company sold a line of clothing and home decor featuring pastel colors and floral prints.
Desert Southwest decor from the 1990s featuring pastel colors.
The 1990s saw an interpretation of Southwestern decor featuring an abundance of pastel colors.

However, pastels experienced their greatest popularity in the 18th century. The Rococo style, which emerged in France in the early-to-mid 1700s, was known for its use of delicate pastel colors like pink, baby blue, and pistachio green. This style emphasized lightness, elegance, and refinement, and the use of pastel colors helped to create a gentle and ethereal atmosphere. Later in the 18th century, the Neoclassical period of interior decoration emerged as a reaction against the excesses of Rococo. Yet Neoclassical interiors still kept the pastel colors, albeit with a more restrained and muted palette. The use of pastel colors in 18th-century interior design was a reflection of the desire for beauty, harmony, and gracefulness, as well as an appreciation for the delicacy and subtlety of color.

Sitting room at the palace of Versailles.
This sitting room in the Palace of Versailles exemplifies the French predilection for pastel colors in the 18th century. While the palace’s furnishings were sold off during the French revolution to fund the new republic, several years of redecoration have restored the splendor of Versailles.
Madame Adelaide's Bedchamber, Palace of Versailles
Notice the beautiful soft pinks, baby blues, and mint greens in this bedchamber at Versailles.
Altar at San Jose Mission Church in San Antonio Texas featuring restored original paint colors from the 1700s.
The French weren’t the only ones with a penchant for pastels. The San Jose Mission church in San Antonio, Texas was built in 1768 and features a gorgeous altar painted in pastel blue and yellow with gilding. The original paint colors were restored in the early 2010s, and the 250+ year old building still holds church services to this day!

Pastel Paint Palette

And now, my pastel paint colors palette:


Georgian style door painted pink.
Benjamin Moore Voile Pink 2000-70
Sherwin Williams Priscilla pink 6575
Farrow & Ball Middleton Pink


A living room featuring contemporary interior design and pastel purple painted walls.
Benjamin Moore Whisper Violet 2070-70
Sherwin Williams Spangle lilac purple 6834
Farrow & Ball Calluna purple


The interior of the Beauregard-Keyes house in New Orleans with walls painted in pastel blue.
Benjamin Moore Jet Stream 813
Sherwin Williams Upward gray blue 6239
Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light blue


The interior of Laduree in Beverly Hills, with pastel pistachio green interior.
Benjamin Moore Neon Celery 2031-60
Sherwin Williams Lime Granita pistachio green pastel
Farrow & Ball Cooking Apple green pastel


Latrobe's in New Orleans, painted with pastel yellow walls.
Benjamin Moore Lemon Meringue 2023-50
Sherwin Williams Pineapple Cream pastel yellow
Farrow & Ball Dayroom Yellow

Interior Pastel Paint Colors Palette: Farrow & Ball Middleton Pink, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams


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