By Lydia Geisel

Published on October 31, 2018

Once relegated to millennial-friendly cafes and gender-specific childrens’ rooms, the staying power of pink has proven itself a surprise to even the most color-forward decorators among us. Pushing its boundaries beyond the feminine, the color has taken on a second life as an alternative neutral.

Acclaimed interior designer and furniture maker, Charles de Lisle, is one of many visionaries reimagining the hue in a rainbow of fresh and exciting ways. Opting for an all-over blush palette with a two-toned twist, the Massachusetts-born creative took a poised approach to color in this 2,200-square foot railroad apartment situated between San Francisco’s Mission and Castro Districts. Coupled with graphic art, the two-bedroom home is a contemporary lesson in playing up contrast.

Ahead, de Lisle shares his secrets for mastering pink-on-pink. Plus, four important design lessons we learned from the ultra-chic space.

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photography by Leslie Williamson

Leave room for negative space.

Design is as much about telling a curated story with objects as it is about restraint. While a room filled with every item you’ve painstakingly collected over the years can certainly be comforting, when left purposefully bare, the space will, in turn, strengthen the most impactful elements in the room—be it a sculptural light fixture or original architectural details.

I look at rooms as three-dimensional experiences. How they feel is more important than how they may look in a photo,” de Lisle tells Domino. “I also have always been a fan of bold graphic art and using it in an empty space as a contrasting element.”

Embracing negative space isn’t a matter of converting to minimalism or taking on a “less is more” mentality. Returning a room back to its most fundamental state comes down to making thoughtful choices with how you arrange your furniture. In the absence of bulky statement pieces and unnecessary clutter, the original Victorian details in the living room (like the grand wood mantel, molding, and bay windows) take center stage.

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photography by Leslie Williamson

Classic colors can feel fresh in unexpected combinations.

Committing to one color family can be a compelling way to make a decisive statement about your home. Upon discovering the perfect shade(s) of pink for the apartment, de Lisle toned down the energy of the space by incorporating various moments of black, white, and gray.

I have always loved pink. Colors kind of come and go, but there is always room to put together new-feeling combinations,” says the designer. “For this project, we were looking for a fresh color palette to create a soft and airy environment. Our office specializes in honing in on each client’s project as individual creative exercises, so every project unfolds as the inspiration organically develops out of the project.”

Breaking up the pink-washed walls that carry on into the master bedroom, a floor-to-ceiling textile of varying black and white triangles and triptych of prints brings out the graphic nature of the two-toned room. On their own, pink, white, and black are about as classic as it gets. But together? The trio make for a surprisingly modern visual treat.

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photography by Leslie Williamson

Elevate two-toned walls with sophisticated textures.

Speaking of those two-toned walls, de Lisle nails the trending tone-on-tone look. Conscious spacing and the subtle difference between the two blush shades make the space feel balanced and curated.

“Most of the time I find that a darker lower half of a wall feels more balanced, but there doesn’t necessarily have to be strict rules here,” shares de Lisle. Going against his own advice, the designer relegated the lighter shade pink to the bottom third of the wall, while taking the darker blush up and on to the ceiling.

Much like proportion, conflicting textures also impart a sense of balance. Merging contradictory materials and unlikely surfaces, in one corner of the master bedroom, de Lisle topped a stringy, black Acapulco chair with a furry sheepskin throw.

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photography by leslie williamson

Find inspiration in fashion.

While the runway has long informed the realm of interiors, who’s to say that everyday style isn’t just as worthy of our attention? Introducing all-over color to a space isn’t as simple as closing your eyes and spinning the color wheel. When you trust your eye and search in unexpected places, it will tell you what works—and what doesn’t.

“I often refer to Japanese street style or clothing trends to look for cool color combinations outside of the interior world,” says de Lisle. “Recently I’ve been looking at hotter reds with more muddy blush pinks and peach colors.”

Whether dispatched directly from Paris Fashion Week or sourced subconsciously from the streets of Singapore, look beyond the bounds of Pinterest for fresh color ideas. 

See more pink interior ideas: 

Pink Sofas Are Our Favorite Living Room Eye Candy

13 Ways to Play With Pink in Your Home

This Pink Home Starts With a Pineapple Doorbell and Only Gets Better