Posted: 11 November 2011
Interior designer and blogger Lelanie Slater shares her tips for working with a neutral palette. Currently I am working on a TV room with a neutral colour scheme. This is often a palette that is hard to get right, as there's always the risk of it looking dull, too boring, too plain or simply unattractive. I often wonder whether neutrals imply that you're scared of colour, and how to get away from this assumption. I've therefore come up with a way to work around the problem and transform a neutral room from bland to wow! An easy way to spice up a neutral palette is by making use of different patterns. In image 1, a zebra-striped scatter cushion and graphic, striped carpet have successfully been paired with a soft linen coloured chair. The room has a muted feminine quality about it, which is both warm and inviting. note the vignette: Also note the table arrangement in this same image. A baroque inspired frame, delicate glass lamp and romantic hydrangeas make for a great way to add depth, dimension and visual interest to the room. Think of them as the jewellery of the space, which add personality and character. This vignette is successful because of the various layers. Elements are stacked in front of each other to create depth. This emphasises the textures and shapes of the objet instead of the actual pieces. This is often a good place to add metallics. Old books are always a winner, so scour flea markets and antique shops for a few originals. The small things make all the difference. In neutral spaces texture is a must. The rough hewn quality of the farm style table in image 2 creates a strong contrast against the smoothness of the tiles. Texture can be found in the grain of wooden flooring, the touch of raw silk, the chunky feel of knits, natural fibre carpets and so on - the list is endless. This is a crucial element in neutral design. Texture creates shadows. This play on light and dark gives depth to the neutral palette, essentially displaying different hues and tones of the same colours, giving the room life. When decorating with neutrals make sure that the space is defined. Guard against a mass of oneness. Keep separate and defined spaces, even though the palette is the same. The room in image 3 has a very basic palette, however, there is a clearly defined dining and sitting area. This is not simply achieved by moving the furniture apart, but also by adding a focal point to each area. The large glass light pendant over the dining table anchors the space, giving it a focal point.
Another clever way of defining space is by using the back of a couch as a 'wall'. Use your double seater to break the space. Push a rectangular occasional table against the back of the sofa and use the space to display lamps, art, statuettes or other objet. Note the use of plants to introduce colour to the space. These can be changed according to the season at a minimal cost. A feature wall is a clever way of adding interest and focus. It can be a collection of antique plates, art, black and white photographs or empty frames. In image 4, metallic framed mirrors create a striking feature against a soft pink wall. Art can be used to create a focal point and to introduce colour to a neutral space. In image 5, this modern, abstract piece of art immediately draws the eye. A neutral palette can still be dark and strong. These schemes are not exclusively compiled of beige, white and eggshell. Be daring when working with neutrals and remember these few basics. A few well-selected pieces will transform your space. Lelanie Slater is a talented combination of interior designer, writer, blogger and lover of all things unique, beautiful and creative. She is the editor and curator of Of Beauty and Love. This blog is a space where she features trends, products, images, inspiration, people and more. The criteria? Be lovely, unique, and interesting.