Domestic Dispatches: Pink Is the Navy Blue of India by

Issue 13 · India Song · March 31, 2014

Domestic Dispatches: Pink Is the Navy Blue of India

Issue 13 · India Song · March 31, 2014

One day Julie came over to my house with a box of props for a photo shoot. And instantly I fell in love.

"Where did you get that beautiful pink throw?" I asked as if she had stolen it from me. Which she hadn't. I'd never seen it before.

But something about it—something about the way Julie draped it like a puddle of melted sherbet on my sofa—spoke to me directly. The pink throw whispered in my ear and it said: "Michelle, Michelle, you are mine and I am yours, and we should be together for the rest of our lives."

"What are you doing?" Julie asked in alarm, snatching it away. "Stop rubbing it between your fingers like that or it will pill."

Sorensen Sofa with Pink Throw/Remodelista

Above: Julie's pink mohair throw, casually draped on my sofa. Photograph by Mimi Giboin

What is it about pink? You go through life not thinking about the color at all—you decorate a house in neutrals, painting the walls a pale shade of ash, buying a brown sofa, reupholstering an armchair in a flax-colored linen. And then one day, you catch a glimpse of just the right shade of deep peony, and you realize that you have been living a beige lie.

Some cultures, more advanced than ours, have long understood the power of pink. When fashion editor Diana Vreeland famously declared that "pink is the navy blue of India," I imagine she said it with more than a twinge of envy. The year was 1956 and photographer Norman Parkinson had recently returned from a trip to the subcontinent, where he posed Western models on location in Kashmir and Jaipur against backdrops of pink-jacketed palace guards and pink-turbaned snake charmers. The photos, published in rival Vogue, made it clear that the rest of us had been missing out on something big.

Louise DesRosiers Pink Spread/Remodelista

Above: A bedroom with pink spread from the portfolio of Louise Desrosiers

Lucky India. There, you get to enjoy pink as a neutral background to everyday life. There, pink has not been saddled with the weird gender associations that we insist on in this country, where pink is for girls and blue is for boys.

Pink should be the navy blue of everywhere, in my opinion. But in the US, we discriminate against pink, consigning it to baby's bedrooms and the guest bath, rather than celebrating it for what it is: a strong, pure color that makes you feel happy. 

There's a scientific reason pink makes you feel good. Research shows that highly saturated shades—which are the most pure examples of a particular hue—and lighter shades (the degree to which a color is more like white than black) elicit positive emotions. So why wouldn't we want to drape our homes in pink mohair throws?

One reason, it turns out, is that in rare cases pink may make us feel (or look) too good. Chicago-based psychologist Sally Augustin, who studies how physical environments affect mood, said pink is a no-no in hospitals.  "It's a color that makes a lot of skin tones look better," she said, "This is a reason you don't paint hospital rooms pink. Doctors are evaluating patients' skin tones, looking for jaundice or pallor. The reflection of pink on a patient's skin tone might make a doctor or nurse think patients are feeling better than they are." 

Canvas Pink Felt Pillow/Remodelista

Above: A hot pink felt pillow from Canvas in Sarah Lonsdale's St. Helena rental.

In other words, having a pink mohair throw on the premises will dramatically improve your appearance. On this basis alone, we should be draping them in every room.

After Julie took her pink throw home, I wandered around the house, my complexion looking very sallow, until I realized there was an easy solution: a pink throw of my own.

But it had to be just the right shade of pink. I Googled maniacally, but in vain, until on one day my friend Stephanie sent me an email: "Found your throw." I clicked on the link to buy—and there it was.

Above: My pink mohair throw came from Serena & Lily (it's currently sold out).

The instant the mohair throw arrived in the mail, everybody's mood (and my skin tone) improved dramatically. My sober brown couch suddenly looked chic. Even my dog Sticky, who hates everything, was entranced and started draping herself in its folds to nap. And they say dogs are color blind.

My pink mohair throw is sold out now at Serena & Lily (more's the pity for them, as I am sure they could sell a million if they kept it in stock—who in the world wouldn't want one?). And Julie's, which came from Dosa in Los Angeles, is not available online. But in the interests of furthering pink's prospects in America, I've rounded up other options to consider:

Pink ombre mohair throw ; Remodelista

Above: A pink ombré Avoca Mohair Throw, woven in Ireland, is $170 (plus $30 shipping to the US) from Amara.

hot-pink-mohair-throw-remodelista

Above: A Hot Pink Mohair Throw made by Lands Downunder will be available May 1 for $279.99 from Wayfair.

A few days after my throw arrived in the mail, friends from Los Angeles came to visit. Walking into the house and past the mohair throw, my friend Amy stopped. "Where did you get that beautiful pink throw?" she asked as if I had stolen it from her. Before she even unpacked, she rushed to her laptop to order one for herself.

I've seen it in her house and can report it makes her look very pretty.

How do you use pink at your house? As an accent color? Or is it your navy blue? Tell us in the comments below.

For more of Michelle's weekly Domestic Dispatches, see What We Love (and Hate) About Ikea. Over at Gardenista, she's wondering if anyone can Help Me Get These Deer Out of My Roses.



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