Our Favorite Tips on How to Decorate With Neutral Colors
Neutral tones help to create a soothing environment. Your eye isn’t distracted by busy patterns or garish color. Instead, a pared-down palette inspires focus, calm and relaxation.
Neutral home décor, done right, is elegant and easy on the eye. Decorating with neutrals for an event is also a sure-fire way to make the occasion feel airy, effortless and sophisticated.
Neutral shades are classic and versatile. But creating a cohesive design scheme isn’t always as easy as it looks.
Here we give you the lowdown on neutral shades and offer our tips for creating neutral décor that stands out from the crowd.
What are neutral colors?
Neutrals are any shades that don’t appear on the color wheel. Think white, beige, ivory, taupe and any off-white shade you can imagine.
These hues don’t leap out at you. Instead, they create a feeling of calmness and elegance.
For home décor, neutrals can be adapted to any season. But for an event, we think they’re particularly suited to the warm summer months.
So what do you need to look out for when decorating with neutrals?
Firstly, however neutral a shade, it will have underlying warm or cool tones. Mixing and matching warm with cool can be a challenge so approach this with caution.
Secondly, don’t presume that a neutral scheme is easy just because you’re not matching bold color or pattern. Decorating with neutrals requires a good understanding of tone, texture, materials and structure.
Fail to incorporate some or all of the above and you risk creating a scheme that feels boring or bland.
But don’t worry! We’ve got all the tips and inspo you need to create an utterly elegant and beautifully cohesive neutral space.
Neutral Home Decor Ideas
1. Create warmth with wood
Wood is the perfect partner for a neutral scheme. It brings warmth and character. And it ensures your space doesn’t end up feeling cold or clinical.
Choose a natural wood finish for big furniture pieces. If a whole redesign is possible, consider revealing wooden floorboards or installing a parquet. That way you create a wonderful wooden base on which to build your neutral home décor.
The next step? Add in yet more warm tones with wooden accessories, like wood shelving or wood picture frames.
These Chinese & Bell wood hurricane lanterns have the added benefit of bringing warm welcoming candlelight, as well as those rich wooden tones, to a tablescape or dresser top.
2. Layer natural materials
When decorating with neutrals, using different neutral tones, throughout a space, gives a feeling of depth. So too does layering:
- Layer natural-toned blankets and throws on top of sofas
- Layer rugs to create a sense of luxury
- Opt for fabrics like linen, cotton and wool to enhance the neutral, natural aesthetic
Take layering one step further by applying it to room accessories. Take a clear glass vase and fill it with neutral colored pebbles or superfine sand (or both).
This display of natural tones and materials can be used as a candle holder, a home for succulents, or even a vase for a few dramatic silk blooms.
3. Go bold with shape and structure
With neutral home décor, you can’t rely on color or texture to catch the eye. But choose the right furniture and decorative elements and there will be plenty of added interest.
When picking out furniture, opt for striking silhouettes. An architectural armchair. A table with shapely legs. Perhaps a curved coffee table, rather than something predictably angular.
As long as your furniture pieces follow a similar structural theme, they will add drama without creating visual chaos.
Take a similar approach to room or event accessories. And remember to incorporate any wider theme too.
For example, for a seaside inspired interior, pick structural accessories like this artificial coral, brain coral and white starfish. Their beautiful shapes bring texture and depth whilst maintaining the calm and cohesion of a neutral scheme.
4. Embrace texture
Texture brings movement and life to a room. And texture is best created with natural materials like linen, raw timbers, rattan, raffia, cane, jute, wool and earthenware.
Choose furniture and room accessories in highly textured materials. That means neutral-toned, natural fabrics for carpets, rugs, throws and cushions. And wooden furniture with grain and character. Even mirrors can be given a little added texture with the help of a thick, rope frame.
For tablescapes, dress tables with reactive glaze dinnerware and linen napkins. Design centerpieces based upon rattan runners and foliage.
If a complete renovation is on the cards, go for textured wall paint or wallpaper, in neutral tones, of course. You could even add painted paneling to your walls.
All of these changes will bring subtle texture and character to your neutral décor.
5. Add vintage elements
When decorating with neutrals, some homeowners and designers choose to go minimal and modern. But that’s not the only way to create neutral home décor with the power to wow.
Vintage or distressed furniture and accessories tick lots of the boxes when it comes to neutral design.
They bring texture and depth with beautifully imperfect finishes. They also add structure, with interesting shapes and silhouettes.
Take this rust-effect urn and this old gold effect urn, with their neutral color palettes, classical design and antique effect finish. They’d give exactly the right amount of interest to a neutral scheme. Just fill with some neutral colored flowers to really set the scene.
6. Incorporate metallic pieces
Metals bring shimmer and shine to a neutral scheme. A reflective surface introduces a play of light and that elegant interest you’re looking for.
Bronze, brass and golden tones bring warmth. Stainless steel or darker industrial-style metals can also look striking when paired with warmer neutral tones.
You can incorporate metals into your décor with light fittings and furniture legs. For room accessories, pick out metallic vases, candlesticks and collectibles.