Home Decorating Interiors 101: Decorating with Neutrals

Interiors 101: Decorating with Neutrals

The decorating dictum to “add a pop of color” has become so clichéed that some decorating magazines have banned the phrase from their pages. However, there is a reason the old chestnut has endured: Just a small hit of bright color can completely transform a room from nice-but-bland into something that feels fresh and lively. And because the injection of color is small, it can easily be changed or layered onto--a boon for decor enthusiasts. Here’s how to use those famous pops to great success:

Don’t worry about matching.

While traditional decorating wisdom says you need to pay careful attention to matching fabrics, paints, and finishes, when you decide to go all-in on neutrals, you can cast off any worries about perfect coordination. In fact, the more variation, the better. For example, if you stick to just one wood tone or one shade of white, your design will fall flat.

Vary your tones.

Whether it’s a powder room or the primary bedroom, decorators know that the key to success in an all-neutral scheme is to vary the tone and saturation throughout the space. You need a range from dark to light and warm to cool to keep things interesting. Mix white, cream, beige, and varying wood tones to create a dynamic range of non-colors.

Add black.

Every room needs a moment of contrast–and in a neutral room, black is a surefire way to bring in a strong visual difference and maintain an achromatic look. Use a few touches of black to give the room definition between varying creamy colors. Black hardware and metal accents are an especially nice modern touch.

Choose strong silhouettes.

One way to add drama to a neutral room is to bring in strong shapes. This geometrical tactic can be employed in several ways: Choose one strongly geometric piece to anchor a room and act as a focal point; create a perfectly symmetrical design for a designer look; or balance two or more bold silhouettes off one another for a playful, youthful feeling.

Layer on the textures.

Texture is key in any room, but especially in one dominated by neutral tones. Without color to entice the eye, you need to rely on dynamic textiles and materials to create visual (and tactile) interest. Think shaggy rugs, sheepskin accents, nubby knit pillows, woven linen curtains, and of course, all different types of textured woods and stone.

Shift into neutral.

Neutral home items don’t have to be the back-up players in a room: They can be the stars if you focus on texture, contrast, and pattern. Up level your neutral decorating with these textured and character-filled finds from wallpaper to table lamps.

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1 comment

Stephanie A August 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm

Great post about neutrals! The pictures are always helpful.


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