All hail navy, white, and pink, that preppy, timeless color combo. “It’s a classic, crisp summer combination, and it’s terribly chic,” says Elaine Griffin, the Harlem, New York–based interior designer — and castmember of NBC’s American Dream Builders. “The number one, mack-daddy rule of color combinations is that if it exists in nature — in a flower, a fruit, or a landscape — it will work brilliantly in your home,” she says. “I’m thinking of a stormy sky at twilight with the blue of the sky, and the pink-and-white fluffy clouds. Or it’s the colors of the seashore — the ocean, sparkling sand, and beach roses.” Griffin gave the color wheel a spin and came up with tips for making this tripartite palette work at home.
Showcase only one superstar. “Everyone else has to be in the supporting choir,” Griffin says. The four major components of a room are the floor, walls, ceiling, and upholstery. Start with one of the above, and apply your pick of the three colors. Caveat: If it’s large and permanent, you may want to err on the side of neutral, especially in a more public room. In a living room, if you do navy walls, go for ivory upholstery. “Or do white walls with a navy sofa,” Griffin says. “You don’t want to do navy walls and a navy sofa. Then pick fuchsia or raspberry for accents such as throw pillows, or even an armchair.”
Be more daring in the bedroom. It all depends on the mood you’re trying to create, but don’t be afraid of going big with fuchsia. “A raspberry, tufted headboard would be genius,” according to Griffin. But putting the focus on pink creates a very femme room–which is not for everyone, she says. For a couple’s bedroom or a more masculine vibe, she’d create a foundation of white walls, a navy headboard, and crisp white sheets (“Always!”). Then she’d liven it up with hits of hot pink in decorative pillows or other bedding.
Think pink, but go deep. “The paler it is, the girlier it is,” she says of rosy hues. So use bubblegum sparingly, or in a little girl’s room. For more sophistication, take pink from rosé to more burgundy or cran-apple — perfect for the dining room. “There you can have more dramatic, jewel box-like décor since you don’t spend as much time in there,” she says. Upholster dining chairs in a rich pink silk. Dress them up with navy piping. Add dark blue walls and white china, and “that would really sizzle,” she says.
Don’t forget prints. Florals, stripes, or pretty much any pattern co-mingling navy, pink, and white would be “gorgeous,” she says, “and also very French.” Try this move in bed linens, curtains, tabletop, area rugs, or even upholstery.
Befriend texture. Since, as a rule, you can only have so many solids in one room, according to Griffin, layer different textures in any of the three colors to give a room more warmth. Think: a white linen bedcover and white sheers on windows, plus a white marble lamp or ceramic vase.
Watch your tone. Another decorating rule of thumb: “Varying shades of the same color always go together,” Griffin says. Add variety to a room by weaving in light and dark shades of blue — from royal blue to almost-black, for example — through a mix of textures and patterns like ikat, denim, and linen.
Track the weather. This palette needn’t be a summer-only affair. “You can tweak your palette according to the season,” Griffin says. Her take: Use more crisp white for summer; add in more (and darker) navy for winter.
Ready to dive into this palette? Take a look at our “Color Math: Navy + Pink + White” sale, starting Sunday, May 19th at 9 p.m.
– Maria Ricapito