Blushing Pink

Don’t even think about lumping the colour blush with the pink of Barbie dolls and bubblegum. Blush is not cloying or sickly sweet. It’s a soft and subtle hue grounded in the colours of sunbaked earth. Blush is a comforting colour with peachy undertones that warm the atmosphere of any interior. Think of blush as the insides of seashells, the colour of the sky when the last rays of the sun have sunk beneath the cliffs. Blush is the warm clay in a potter’s hands; it’s an elegant glass of Douro rosé … don’t you love it already?

Pink interiors are soft and reassuring and give us an overall sense that everything will be okay. They alleviate feelings of anger, aggression, resentment and neglect. Many studies have examined how exposure to the colour pink has calming effects on our nervous system. In 1979, research scientist Alexander Schauss managed to convince a correctional institution in the US that inmates who were placed in cells painted pink became less aggressive.


I personally think that Baker-Miller and Cool Down are both too bright to be calming. Being surrounded by these pinks would make me feel the sort of sick I feel when I’ve eaten a whole bag of jelly babies. Späth probably understood the effects of colour better than Strauss, but it seems neither of them had ever met the colour blush. If they had used blush, prisoners worldwide would be so chilled out that they’d be doing yoga and cross-stitching. 


Anyway, thank god we are not confined to a cell and can enjoy decorating with blush in every room of our homes. Combine blush with earthy tones like terracotta and rust to create a serene, spa-like space. And If you think blush might look a little child-like think again, it can be awfully sophisticated when paired with dove grey or deep indigo.

He called his shade of pink ‘Baker-Miller’ after the prison’s directors. As word got around about the calming effects of pink décor, psychiatric units and other holding areas were painted Baker-Miller Pink. Today, model Kendall Jenner is one of the colour’s biggest fans. Explaining why she painted her living room pink, she said, “Baker-Miller Pink is the only colour scientifically proven to calm you AND suppress your appetite. I was like, I NEED this colour in my house!”


In 2011, Swiss psychologist Daniela Späth wrote about her own experiments with a more gentle shade of pink paint. She called hers “Cool Down Pink”, and she applied it to cell walls in ten prisons across Switzerland. Over the course of her four-year study, prison guards consistently reported less aggressive behaviour in prisoners who were placed in the pink cells. 

Though we’ve been conditioned from birth to think of pink as a girly colour, back in the 1920s, pink was used for boys and blue for girls. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that advertising agencies began pushing pink as an exclusively feminine colour.


My daughters Amarisse and Sienna used to love pink. When I say ‘love’, I mean they tolerated me dressing them up as little pink sweeties. They were my dolls with pink hibiscus flowers in their hair, pink ruffle skirts and candy pink metallic sandals. Each time I look at pictures of them aged three and four, I ache for those days. It was so lovely to be the boss of everything. Now it’s all fake eyelashes, black tracksuits and scathing remarks. The only pink I’ve seen in years is the infected belly piercings! Their bedrooms have gone from the prettiest pink to the dirtiest dishwater. Each morning, in the calm after the storm of them hauling themselves from their holes, I wander lonely as a cloud tutting to myself about how depressing their rooms are.  


But last week, Sienna decided to indulge me by suggesting I might like to add a touch of blush to her grey room. I am not stupid; she wants a new phone and I saw the glint in her eye. But I didn’t care. The thought of being allowed to play with her room got me so excited. Yes, I promise to make it blush, not girly pink. Yes, it will only be a little bit, and there will be no ruffles or frills.

Flora’s daughter’s bedroom

I got on my sewing machine in a frenzy and made some blush linen curtains and ran to Portimão for a blush duvet and cushions (pictured). I was a bit scared she’d call the whole thing off when she saw how lovely it looked, so I added some grey geometric cushions to tone down the pretty. The grey walls looked a bit stark, towering above the blush, so I bought a white feather dream-catcher from one of the tourist shops in Lagos and hung it above the bed.


Ah the relief, when she nodded in mild amusement. Her room looked fabulous for a full two days. Now the bed can’t be seen underneath the heaps of clothes, the dream-catcher has lost its feathers and the curtains are stained with makeup. But the beautiful blush is still there and will live to fight another day!


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