Monday, February 27, 2012

Decorating with neutrals

Decorating with color can be intimidating to many. People are often afraid of picking the “wrong” color, or simply don’t want to commit to a specific color which they might get tired of down the road. There are reasons for that.

Color is tricky. We see color in a comparative way, meaning that every color does look different in different contexts (i.e other adjacent colors). Lighting affects how we see color as well. For example, blues look better in southern facing rooms then northern ones, where they seem too cold. Also, colors will look different under daylight conditions versus artificial lighting. Color evokes psychological effects whether we are aware of them or not. In short, color has a clear presence, which can be a very bossy one too.

Neutrals, on the other hand (white, gray, black and beige) seem like a “safer” choice to many people. Neutrals can easily be mixed with each other, as well as with vibrant colors. The reason for that is that neutral colors are actually a combination of all colors at different ratios.  Beiges can be greenish, yellowish or pinkish. Grays can be bluish, purplish or greenish.
So why do so many neutral rooms seem boring and static? The reason is that they often lack one or more of the following:

Contrast – when there’s hardly any variation between the darkest and lightest neutrals in a room, it lacks contrast and excitement.  If you are not sure, try taking a picture of your room, convert it to black and white and you will see what I’m talking about.

Pattern – if everything in the room is solid and neutral, chances are that it will be visually static and boring. Bold patterns add visual energy into a room. It could be a grid of black framed pictures, a boldly patterned fabric (on a chair, curtain or pillow)or a patterned rug (animal prints or geometrical prints have a great impact on the level of excitement

Texture – decorating with a variation of contrasting textures  – smooth/ rough, shiny/flat, tight/ relaxed . some examples of contrasts: glass/sisal, distressed wood/metal

Variety of materials – a mix of different materials is intriguing and sophisticated – wood, metal, wrought iron, glass, wicker, sisal, pottery, leather, fabric, shag rugs, plastic, plaster.

Interesting lines – lines create movement and avoid a static feel. if you are decorating with lots of white, add pieces that have interesting lines to them – wrought iron lamps, capis lamp

Add something black – every room needs something black and neutral rooms benefit from more than one piece. Black creates depth and emphasis.

Accent color “pop” – in an all neutral room, even a tiny bit of vibrant color can “lift” the look. It can be a pillow, chair, vase, picture, lamp shade, anything really. Try placing that “pop” of colorful object where the focal point is. This will draw attention to where you want it.

The advantage of keeping a neutral color scheme and adding small accent colored pieces, is that it’s fairly easy to change the look with a simple change of the accent pieces.

Plants – plants are always a great addition to any room. A cheap way to bring in life, color and stay in the neutral theme

If you'd like help with color, redesigning or decorating your own home, contact me @

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