Neutral colors are an important part of most décor schemes. For those who love bold, vibrant colors, neutral colors play a critical role in balancing out the pops of this and that and providing aesthetic “white space.” For those who love an unimposing, serene color palette, neutrals are the backbone of creating such. And for everything in between, neutral colors are necessary, whether they’re background or center stage or a combination of the two. Here are 20 ideas to keep your neutral color use, including using neutral paint colors, strategically energetic and personal.
Opting for a neutral color on your largest furnishings, such as the living room sofa, is a safe and often wise idea. But this doesn’t mean the neutral furniture should be generic or ho-hum. Interesting details, such as tufting on this extra-long ivory Chesterfield sofa, bring the neutral piece to the forefront.
Playing with scale in unexpected ways is another way to beef up the impact of neutrally colored spaces. A tall, almost whole-wall-sized headboard, for example, minimizes the need for additional accessories and details in the bedroom, which keeps it in tune with the inherently serene aesthetic of a neutral palette. Paired with an unexpectedly high-backed wingback chair is purely fun and lovely.
Add a personal touch with a patterned wallpaper that you love in neutral colors. This foundation adds loads of visual appeal, variation from other straight-lined pieces in the space, and a sense of understated coziness.
Neutral pieces more than double their visual impact when paired with similar, or identical, items. These cream-and-almond club chairs, for example, arranged symmetrically and flanked by matching frond plants are structured, stunning, and soothing in their neutrality.
When a space is blessed to have large windows (especially floor to ceiling ones, like in this space), neutral colors just might be the optimal choice for color palette so as to emphasize the view and natural light. Too many colors would likely distract from the window views, which can serve practically as a form of living artwork for all intents and purposes.
Color blocking is on trend over recent years, and the appeal holds true for neutral colors as well as any other combination. Color blocking, whether on walls with neutral paint colors or on furniture, adds great visual attraction on architecture and/or design of specific pieces and is highly effective with variations of neutral colors.
Lest one should think that all spaces decorated in neutral colors must be boring or builder grade, this photo shows the opposite to be true. Varying the size, silhouettes, and textures of each piece while maintaining neutrality in the color palette creates a vibrant, completely inviting space. (For the record, animal prints are always neutral.)
One fabulous and simple way to add charm and energy to neutrals, whether on a large scale such as a whole room or on a small scale such as a single piece, is to mix sheens. The softness of a faux sheepskin pad, for example, pairs beautifully with a gilded metal base on a stool or ottoman – certainly a case where opposite neutrals attract.
Clean lines in lighting fixtures are a chic and personable way to incorporate individual style sensibilities into a neutral space. This modern brass fixture, with globe lights and asymmetry, would infuse any space with vibrancy and sophistication. Consider opting for a neutral paint color on opposing walls that makes the fixture’s silhouette pop.
Playing with opposing neutrals is a lovely way to emphasize interest in a neutral space. Where wood floors and furnishings are on the lighter side, a dark charcoal-colored wall provides an awesome juxtaposition and depth. There are still plenty of details within both neutral components to make the space unique, spacious, and inviting.
Break up an expansive neutrally painted wall with an intricate screen or wall divider. The effect avoids detracting from the neutral color scheme but instead enhances the glamour factor. Consider varying the lines, heights, angles, and shapes in your neutral space to really add depth.
Choose similarly shaped and designed pieces, such as these small, round tables, in varied neutral shades or tones. The slight differences of the objects themselves will make them interesting, while the neutral colors will visually meld them together as a set.
Wood tones are inherently neutral, really. Wood pieces displayed or used together will likely look well because the neutral wood tones kind of work as analogous colors when combined in this way.
If you happen to love one particular neutral color (e.g., a warmish grey), you don’t have to vary too far from that beloved hue in your decorating decisions and still create a relaxing, sophisticated space. Simply use within the space several tints and tones of that one neutral color to add depth and interest. (Don’t forget to vary the textures as well for an ultimate luxe look.)
Mirrors are not neutral, per se, but they do tend to take on the look of their surrounding color palette, being reflective and all. So when mirrors reflect the neutral colors in your space, this doubles the visual impact of your palette’s neutrality and enhances the color scheme even more.
Warm, earthy green paired with wood (the neutral to end all neutrals) is a page straight out of Mother Nature’s playbook. Green is a color, of course – all neutrals are colors – but it reads as an absolute neutral when paired in this natural way.
A contemporary neutral color combination is cool grey tones with warm caramel or cognac browns. Use variations of these hues equally in your space for a balanced, modern appeal.
Neutral colors are anything but boring! Upholstering a bar stool, office chair, or any other seat with some sort of neutral-toned shag and pairing it with metallic sheens is whimsical and attractive. The fact that both components – the shag and the metal look – share the base color makes this neutral piece even better.
Interesting artwork, including sculptures, tchotchkes, and accessories, become even more interesting when displayed in the same neutral color palette. Doing so makes their differences in content and form stand out all the more. The end result is a “colorful” vignette…sans very much color.
Neutral spaces still benefit from accent pieces. The difference might be, however, that the “pop” of colors is more muted or greyer versions of a vibrant color. This strategy makes sense in a neutral space, because the varied tone or