In design, we usually define neutral colors as those not easily associable with the color wheel; they complement it. However, they always have undertones that can be either cool or warm. In general terms, neutrals give a sense of sophistication and class for a certain interior. For instance, we can distinguish a variance of grays, blacks, whites, beiges, and taupe.

It is important to understand that the materials you are using greatly impact the whole chef-d’oeuvre. For instance, when designing a kitchen using a neutral palette, you may want to implement some warm wood tones. 

Another tip is using patterns. It is important to create a contrast between neutrals using materials, as we said beforehand, and a play of configurations throughout the scenery. Keep in mind that experimentation is key!

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What’s your power color? ©www.audreyalamode.com

Some useful tips before starting the design 

Here are some tips to follow before designing your neutral interior:

  • Decide which mood you want to create.
  • Write down your inspirations and goals.
  • Time to go get the color samples! Always do two things once you’re there:
    First, test the neutral undertones by putting it close to a blue and a taupe sample. If the neutral tends to have more blue traces, then it is a cool neutral. If not, then it is warm. One cannot stress enough the importance of determining the undertones of neutral color to associate the correct palette.

Second, professional designers always advise getting a few more saturated, less saturated, darker, and lighter tones than the original color you think you want. This will help you determine on-site what is the right choice to make.

  • Once you have your color samples, test how much natural light you actually have. Indeed, this should be done throughout the day to notice how the color changes and varies according to light.
  • Just to end up with a small atmosphere and size tip: if you have a small room, it is advised not to use dark colors for their apparent “shrinking” properties. They can make the room feel smaller than it actually is. On another note, avoid using pure white color in your homes; always go for a smoother derivable since it can give an alarming sense.
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Decorating with Neutrals ©www.stylebyemilyhenderson.com

Using Neutrals 

There are two ways that one can opt for the neutrals: first, going for a whole soft neutral look or using neutrals as a background.

1. Complete Neutral Palette

Transforming an interior into a completely neutral look is a challenge worth taking! It elevates the sophistication of a room and gives it a classier, softer edge. As mentioned before, one should always consider using neutrals with the same undertone hue to maintain coherence. It is advised to use lighter shades for walls and a darker for the flooring or rugs. This should enable the furniture to stand out.

To knead the whole ensemble together, use accessories like frames and plant pots, including the same shades you have already used on the walls, floor, and furniture. Using tone on tone makes the room even more interesting. For example, you can overlay shades of whites with shades of creamy beiges.

If you would like to pop up your design, but want to stay away from the colors, try black! It enhances some features and creates a “revolution” in the design.

2. Neutral Background

The background should be in coherence with the colors you’re going to use to pop up your interior. Start by defining the undertones, especially if you opt for shades of gray. It is super important to know if it is a cool shade or a warm one. For instance, you might want to use a taupe for walls, navy blue for furniture, including patterns with ivory, navy, and taupe stripes.

Dark neutrals enhance strength and stabilization in the whole design, whereas whites deliver an enlivenment atmosphere.

Whatever design you choose, whatever mood and atmosphere, always keep in mind that the whole house’s interior should be coherent. You can generate relations between each room by repeating one single neutral. It will create an interesting sequence.  

Grays

Grays are interesting. They carry a wide variety of shades, ranging from the cool hue to the warm.

Warm grays are usually employed for an inviting and cozy vibe. If you are considering white but are not sure about it, warm grays could be your perfect alternative.

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Using Neutrals ©www.bhg.com

Black and Whites

Daring to use black and white in a composition is bold, has a high impact, and generates a striking design. One might want to light up the interior with a touch of brass and wood, for instance. Remember materials, finishes, textures!

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Using Neutrals ©www.bhg.com

Whites

When using whites, consider switching to golden undertones. They offer a cozy and relaxed vibe.

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Using Neutrals ©www.bhg.com

Dark Neutrals

Attention! They can turn a room into a smaller one! However, they have the amazing perk of creating a cocoon effect. The trick when using dark neutrals is to always implement some whites and a variety of finishes. You might want to pair them with splashes of colors like yellow or red.

Creamy Latte

These are the warm neutrals that create an atmosphere of comfort, but at the same time energizing, just like your favorite latte!

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Using Neutrals ©www.bhg.com

Romantic Neutral

Designing with a blush of neutral pink enhances the lightness. It will blend seamlessly with the rest of the palette (if used correctly).

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Using Neutrals ©www.bhg.com

Pearly Whites

Pearl whites as neutrals allow the generation of statements and counterparts.

New Neutrals 

In the design industry, we have noticed the rise of new neutrals, which are the less saturated shades of colors like sage greens and chalky yellows. These are amazingly well paired with whites, creams, or grays.

Going for the neutrals is not so neutral after all! It allows you to enhance the subtle sense of an interior while promoting a wide range of experiences, combinations, and challenges!

Dima Fadel
Author

Dima Fadel is a passionate and curious architect, constantly seeking new knowledge. She graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Architectural Studies from the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts in Beirut last summer, and is currently pursuing her MSc in Integrated Architectural Design at La Salle, in the urban laboratory of Architecture: Barcelona.

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