The basic neutral colors are white, beige, brown, gray, and black. You may think that these colors seem a bit uninteresting and lack pizzazz, but did you know that colors from the color wheel that are tinted with these colors can also be considered neutral? Think of a vibrant green turned into a muted khaki, a bright yellow changed into a subtle beige, or a sassy purple transformed into a rich brown. Neutrals are anything but boring. Real estate agents often encourage homeowners to go back to neutrals before they sell. Why? Neutrals are both appealing and timeless, and they are much easier to work with than their bold, bright counterparts.
The Benefits of Neutrals
- Neutrals are versatile. Neutral colors can have warm or cool undertones, increasing their usability as a whole. Simply identify the warmth or coolness that your space needs and choose accordingly.
- Neutrals go with any decorating taste or style. No matter what your preferences are, neutral colors provide the perfect backdrop and keep your space from appearing too busy. Add neutrals in layers or with pops of color to create visual depth and interest.
- Neutrals invoke a sense of visual calmness. Neutral colors, simply by their lack of boldness and brightness, relax the mind. How would your home feel with a spa-like atmosphere?
- Neutrals make redecorating easy. When you’re ready for a change, you won’t have to start from scratch. Since neutrals can withstand changing décor, you can repurpose a room with very little effort.
- Neutrals possess widespread appeal. Not everyone loves pink salmon wallpaper or ‘70s-style green bathrooms. If you ever choose to sell your home, opting for neutral tones in your interior design will likely attract more potential buyers.
Incorporating Neutrals into Your Space
There are two major ways to use neutrals while decorating:
- Neutrals-only – as in an all-neutral room, and
- Neutrals as a background – for dramatic accents.
The All-Neutral Room: A Classy, Sophisticated Look
For an all-neutral room, layering different hues of the same color can create an elegant, clean look. Choose a lighter color for the walls and go with darker upholstery. To ensure that your furniture stands out, pick area rugs that complement your flooring but are a shade darker than your walls. Make the room look completely cohesive with accessories and accents that incorporate some or all of the shades you’ve utilized. And don’t worry about trying to match colors perfectly; let the varying neutral tones create a layered effect.
Neutrals as a Background: Make Accents Pop
When using neutrals as a background, you’ll want to start with neutral walls. You can choose your neutral based on the other colors you wish to use, the amount of natural light in the room, and your personal preference. However, if your room is on the small side or lacks natural light, you’ll want to opt for a lighter color. Dark walls in a small room will only make the room appear smaller. On the other hand, if your room is spacious and light, explore all options.
Once you have your wall color, the fun begins! Let’s say you choose a rich taupe for the wall color. Try adding a navy sofa and chairs covered in a stripe of ivory, taupe, and navy. Next, select an area rug or carpeting in the same shade of taupe as the walls, or maybe even a bit lighter. Pick out throw pillows – some neutral and some with colors in the chairs, perhaps – and then drape an ivory blanket over the sofa. Accessorize by placing books and objects with hints of red on a brass and glass coffee table to add texture and color. The taupe walls and carpeting provide a perfect neutral canvas for all the drama you want to add to your space.
Tips for Working with Neutrals
- Contrast matters. The more your neutrals contrast, the busier your space will feel. For example, white-and-black patterns will have more energy than, say, beige-and-tan patterns.
- Use natural elements. Nature-based elements tend to be inherently neutral and can provide a lovely, textural element to your space.
- Layer hues. If you want an all-neutral look, layer different shades of one color to create depth.
- Use different shades and intensities. Think about using darker and lighter shades of the same neutral color throughout your room and then bringing in visual interest with patterned rugs or pillows.
- Focus on a unifying element. A striped chair or curtain that contains a multitude of colors can tie all of your neutral tones together. Sometimes simply painting the molding all one color can also do the trick.
- Balance cool neutrals with warm ones. For example, your beige might have a gold or pink undertone, while your white might be slightly ivory, yellow, bluish, or peachy. Red, yellow, and orange undertones are warm. Blues and greens are cool.
- Take cues from the space itself. If the space has windows all around, a simple neutral theme, for example, won’t detract from the beautiful outdoor views.
- Create simple harmonies. Rooms don’t have to be the same color, but they should have a sense of continuity and flow. Tie rooms together using a common theme (e.g., nautical) and bring related elements and colors into each room.
- Wood gives depth to any color. Creams and silvers on a dark wood have an elegant feel. Sometimes wood is all the contrast you need when it comes to using neutrals.
For many people, decorating can be daunting. If you are having trouble envisioning your finished space, we can help. We offer interior design services and have a showroom full of ideas in our Leesburg shop. Let us help you customize your space; stop by and see us today!