Decorate With A Neutral Color

Thinking a neutral color scheme but not sure where or how to start?  Afraid it will look lifeless and boring?   A successfully decorated room in neutral colors can be achieved by using various textures; contrasting light and dark shades; and incorporating a variety of shapes and sizes.  (For an ultra modern look, see how these elements are paired down in the third image below.)  If desired, however, a warm color can be added to give the room just a little pop. Let's see how decorating with neutral colors works.

I started here with a black and off-white zebra pillow as a "color-spiration" for a city apartment:

Obviously, black and gray are the primary neutral colors.  But note the statement piece, a divider screen with enlarged photo print of New York City.  Shapes and texture play a major role in making the room interesting: the faux fur pillow vs the smoothness of the black chair fabric and the pile-textured rug vs the smooth silver metal chair legs. The gold bowl and the wood base of the lamp add a touch of warm natural colors, along with the green-leaf candle holder.  The silver pouf is a lovely, feminine touch.  (Learn more about using poufs in Spice It Up With a Pouf, April 23, 2014)

In stark contrast to the black as the primary neutral color above, here is one in white:

Discovered on Pinterest

Discovered on Pinterest

White is very calming and can easily be "taken up a notch" with dashes of colors, such as the black pots contrasted with the beautiful pink hydrangeas and the magenta color small bowls on the table.  The warm color is repeated in smaller and larger amounts in the background room. Again, texture and shapes play a key role in making the room interesting.  Here's another white room but it's truly stark, very modern.  But notice how the long linear lines are iterated to give it interest like repetitive notes heard in lovely song or music:

Another find on Pinterest

Another find on Pinterest

I love the room above but if it's too stark for your taste, here's another one of my favorite decorated with a neutral color scheme.  It's bold and dramatic, and it has  "pops" of color in the rug to warm it up. 

Do take the tour, found on Apartment Therapy, of this very modern DC Home.

Do take the tour, found on Apartment Therapy, of this very modern DC Home.

The next one makes fabulous use of neutral as a monotone color scheme.  Here again shapes are repeated but pattern and contrast give the vignette drama.

From Pinterest

You're thinking the martini warms up the room in this design board below?  You may be right!  (Writer smiles.)  Along with the martini, texture, pattern, variation in shapes and neutral colors renders the scheme interesting and a space to want to be in.

The rooms in the images below work very well in the neutral scheme.  Any idea why?

From the blog A Plateful Of Love

From the blog A Plateful Of Love

Found on Pinterest  (pinned by pinner)

Found on Pinterest  (pinned by pinner)

On Pinterest from the blog This Is Glamorous.

On Pinterest from the blog This Is Glamorous.

There is always something romantic about an all white room that I find so very inviting.

So what exactly are neutral colors?  Ask.com describes it like this:

"Neutral colors include hues like beige, black, gray, ivory, taupe and white. Neutral usually means without color, but these hues sometimes have faint undertones of blue, gold, peach, pink, tan and yellow.

Neutral colors do not show up on the color wheel. People in fashion, decorating and other professions that use colors prominently refer to neutral colors as earth tones. These colors have a flexibility and visual balance that works in a number of settings. They also have a classic, subtle feel in rooms, clothing and furniture that also make use of bolder and more vibrant colors in their designs."

It's important to remember that neutral colors do have undertones and thus should be carefully selected, particularly when adding other colors to the decorating scheme.  And don't forget, lighting source will very definitely bring out or mute these undertones.

Considering a neutral color scheme for a decorating project?  I'd love to hear from you!

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