Some of the most common color mistakes are made in kids’ rooms, and it is not always their fault. They usually know exactly what color they want, so if they have an opinion, listen to them. The challenge for parents though is choosing the right version of the hue they pick, especially when it comes to pastels.

With red and orange, what you see is what you get. But with paler colors, whether yellow, blue, green or pink, the ones that look great on the paint card can swallow the room with chromatic overload when expanded to the walls. What you need to know is how much saturation you want in your color.

When we look at small pieces of color, like paint swatches, we like colors that are clean. They look fresh and pleasing to the eye. When we experience big areas of color, like on the walls, we like things to be softer and more muted. This is like color in the natural world. Flowers, leaves and grasses are all intense and deeply saturated up close, but step back and nature’s panoramas are softened and muted by aerial perspective. Bright grass green softens to forest green, sages and celadons. Unless they are being used for snappy accents, pastel hues being used for an entire room need their own version of aerial perspective by being grayed or muted for comfort. Do a test on a large piece of cardboard that you can move around the room, or check out these go-to pastels from PPG to create beautiful rooms for kids of all ages.


Blues that are not too blue:

  • For babies and ceilings in kids’ rooms: Twinkle Blue 447-2
  • For young children: Blue Dolphin 549-4, Chambray 552-4 or a soft aqua, Babbling Brook 410-3

Yellows that are not primary:

  • For babies: Crescent Moon 213-2
  • For kids: Dusty Yellow 214-3
  • For a high energy yellow: Forsythia Blossom 212-4 or Citrus Yellow 212-CH


Greens that are not too minty:

  • Aloe Vera 209-3, Green Pastures 210-3 and Green Grapes 109-5

Pinks that are more like ballet slippers than bubble gum:

  • For babies: Siesta Sans 329-1
  • For children: Cupid Pink 130-1or Cool Melon 332-2

Mauves that are way more muted than you would think:

  • Silver Chalice 443-3,  Cosmic 544-4 or Smoky Orchid 439-2


  • Babies have color sensitivity. Don’t overload their rooms with bold color.
  • Play with color. Use a bolder version of the wall color or a contrasting color in closet or the back of book shelves. Kids love the color surprise.
  • Use more than one color on walls as long as they are in the same color family.
  • Add color to the ceiling by using a pale yellow in a green room, pale mauve in a pink room and blue in most rooms, including a mauve one. Or use the wall color on the ceiling, especially in small rooms with little or no cornice trim.
  • Add a stronger accent wall as they grow older and want more color.
  • Always respect your child’s color opinions.

Janice Lindsay is a designer who collaborates with PPG Porter Paints.

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