How to use neutral colours in your home

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For many of us, when we think of using neutral colours in decorating our homes, our minds think back to a time when retailers created whole catalogues using what seemed to be a single shade of brown.

Brown carpet, beige walls, dark brown sofas with matching brown cushions and brown curtains. It’s hardly inspiring, is it? Today, we are embracing more and more colour into our homes - and for a colour lover like myself, that’s great news - but there are still ways to use neutrals in beautiful ways; ways that don’t necessarily look like a catalogue.

When I use the word neutrals, we are not only talking about varying shades of taupe, chocolate, beige or the many other shades that could be construed as being in the brown family. Varying shades of white and ivory from linen and cream to pearl and brilliant white all come under the neutral family, as do shades of black – from deepest slate to soft charcoal and dusty blue and green greys as well. The colour grey – proclaimed by interior designers everywhere as the ‘new neutral’ – has over 500 different shades that can be seen by the human eye.

So when we start to consider the wide range of colours we really have to choose from, why not understand how to use this vast array to create a calm and beautiful environment in our home?

What’s the big secret? Well, it’s all in the mix. Let me explain…

Mix Textures

Consider all the different fabrics and finishes you have in your home. Those textures create interest in any décor – too few and your interiors will read as quite bland. While every space needs a few different textures, it’s even more important when using neutral tones. Consider using a shaggy Beni Ourain rug with a soft worn leather sling chair, a velvet footstool against wooden parquet flooring, or a sleek lacquer console table with a matt hand-thrown vase. These textures will play against one another, creating interest and layers in your design.

Mix Hues, Tones and Shades

When using neutral colours, you want to mix up the range and saturation of colours that you are using. While the colours may be more muted, you’ll still want varying shades of light and dark to contrast each other. Playing with varying tones of the same shade will create a calming effect and using both dark and light shades will create a space with more energy. The greater the contrast in your colours, the more energy created.

Mix Materials

For any successful room, you’ll want to play with materials as well. Wood with glass, leather and silk, linen and acrylic, concrete and velvet – you get the idea. Using different types of materials within a design will not only ensure your space is filled with touchable and textural pieces that are also interesting and eclectic. A wide range of materials is always necessary for a successful design.

Bring in Natural Objects

Finally, consider adding some life to your space. Houseplants and flowers will add their own unique layer to a home whilst also purifying the air and adding an additional organic element. Consider using terracotta and ceramic planters alongside woven baskets or macramé planters for a boho chic vibe or simple white or black planters for a more contemporary feel.

Kimberly Duran is an award-winning interior design blogger who chronicles her decorating journey in her blog, Swoon Worthy. Her style is unashamedly eclectic, bohemian and glamorous and when she's not helplessly drooling over design websites and adding things to the imaginary 'shopping basket' in her head, she likes to get messy tackling DIY projects, stalking eBay for bargains, taking Instagram pictures of her cats and investing time in her ongoing love affair with gold spray paint.

Image sources: Carole Poirot / Claire Esparros for Lonny / Claire Brody Designs

 

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