DECORATING / DESIGNING WITH NEUTRALS

There is good reason why neutrals have been, and remain to this day, very trendy. They make our rooms look elegant and classy, calm and balanced, and they never go out of style. When decorating, neutrals can be our best friend; they are so easygoing with the eye that we end up using them everywhere, to avoid colour disasters. But sometimes we overdo it, we overuse them to the point of being bland and boring.

Neutral schemes were never meant to be boring; instead, they are supposed to enhance a space and make its natural beauty shine through. They can be as warm, comfortable and cozy as their colourful counterparts; but unless they are used in the right combinations and blends, we run the risk of living in tasteless and unexciting spaces.

You will find plenty of tips further down on how to decorate and design with neutrals, but first, what is a neutral colour? Generally we refer to colours being neutral when we cannot find them on the colour wheel. They are those soft, subtle colours that blend effortlessly with most other colours, like white, beige, grey, taupe, khaki and ivory. Using their various undertones we can make them either warm or cool thus bringing them in any of our schemes.

To avoid dullness in rooms decorated with neutrals try bringing in your design or colour scheme texture, contrast and layers. Use neutrals in their warm or cool undertones to create warmth or give contemporary look, and choose neutrals that are rich and earthy, or mineral tones like warm grey–greens or cool stone greys. Milky warm whites and creams are very popular, and in their combinations with the cooler greys they are a winning combination.

Introducing texture in your neutral scheme will make the neutral tones appear as different tones and colours, thus creating excitement to the eye and the space. Texture will also add warmth in your rooms, and if you bring in materials like wood or ‘warm metals’ like brass and bronze, warmth in your room can be further enhanced. Compensate shiny with matte and rough with soft to create interest, albeit subtle. To do these, use for example linens, suede, velvet, skins and knits.

Bringing in contrast, either in terms of warm vs cool or textured vs polished, will add interest; think gleaming, dark woods, glass and other shiny surfaces in combination with a neutral natural palette, an endearing combination indeed. Use layers of colour on top of your neutral foundation, or contrasting shades and tints to add depth. And if wanted, patterns in your neutral scheme can be used, to add movement to your space.

A good tip when decorating with neutrals is to use a dominant dark colour, like black or a rich dark chocolate colour. These colours combine nicely with neutrals’ light tones and can add pops of accent colour in an otherwise neutral palette. You can use them in light decorative items, throw pillows, a door frame or a feature wall.

Another good tip is to remember that neutrals can be combined with almost anything; therefore, a neutral colour scheme is perfect for changing your decor on a seasonal basis, thus adding freshness and a seasonal palette to your space. When the weather gets colder therefore, take out your sisals and replace them with plusher and darker neutral rugs; switch linen drapes with velvets and replace summer pillows with heavier, darker versions.

Neutral rooms should also have a focal point, or perhaps several, a point in the room that will draw attention when entering. In a neutrally decorated room where almost all colours are the same, you can make shape for example, take centre stage. So don’t buy furniture haphazardly, instead, give serious thought to the shape of your furniture and accessories, because they will be very noticeable in such environment. For example, a grey sofa against a grey wall will instantly become more interesting if its back was in a camel fabric, or if it had architecturally shaped legs.

Photographs are preferred to painted artwork in neutral rooms, preferably black and white ones. Frames colours could cover the whole black to white spectrum and include metals to add depths to the scheme and could differ in shape from minimal to classic. Here, splashes of colour could be used in terms of colour in a photography, plants, individual cusions or throws. During the years the choice of color has very much differed depending on the trends and individual designers. However, we think that the choice of colour should be personal.

Going for a neutral scheme can create a very chic approach to your room; all you have to do is create interest so it doesn’t put you to sleep. Although neutral rooms are ‘safe’ in the sense that you cannot go much wrong with them, to make them stylish and elegant-looking you do still need to add significance and smartness to make them appealing.

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