Going Neutral: Layering Comfort and Versatility into Your Design

I want to share a designer’s secret with you. Ready? Here it is: neutral palettes are anything but dull and staid. Neutral color tones are expressive and alive with personality in the right hands. Before you pick up a paint brush or reach for a set of swatches, read this. 

Swath of Many Colors:

What’s the first hue you think of when someone mentions painting a room with a neutral? White? Beige? The truth is that the choices within the neutral color family are vast! You have your pick between subtle differences in the warm cream family like ivory, bone, alabaster and eggshell. Or move into the neighborhood of grey with its soft shades of dove, pewter and the bolder, more saturated tone of charcoal. Start with a base color that best suits your personal taste and the mood you’re looking to strike in the room. 

Layer It Up:

Build interest by layering colors in different shades or complementary hues. If you’ve painted your walls a light shade of gray, introduce depth with a carbon colored sofa or an area rug toned somewhere in between. Introduce texture and patterns with your upholstered pieces that play up the same color family. Look for wood tones that complement your aesthetic tastes and the color palette you’ve selected. Just be aware of what undertones are present in your wall color. If the neutral on your wall is broadcasting undertones of blue, layer in other hues that whisper blue also. 

Play with Pops:

The beauty of a neutral décor is that you can work in pops of color that are easily updated when you’re ready for something new. Perhaps your walls are a pleasing shade of ivory, your sofa is a lush chocolate and the wooden entertainment center is a rich, earthy hue. Greet spring with pillows in a mossy green, an area rug that plays into the soft, dawning shades of spring and a couple of throws light enough in weight and color tone to ward off the last fingers of winter’s chill. When you’re feeling like summer’s ready to sing indoors, swap out the pillows, rug and other accessories for colors that make you feel like you’re beach bound. 

Go Organic or Metallic:

Elements of nature feel as at home in a neutral room as metallics do. You’ve got the option to add accessories that harken back to nature. A sun-filled room may be a welcome space to show off your collection of beach-themed accessories like an antiqued jar filled with shells and sea glass while a hemp-braided rug rests on the floor. On the other hand, you may find brushed nickel and satin-finished silver tones complement your design taste. Either one will feel at home with a neutral color palette.

by Anjie Cho