How to Make Neutral Colors Anything But Boring, According to a Design Pro
White, gray, and beige don't need to feel "blah."
Brooklyn-based textile designer Rebecca Atwood is a big fan of nature-inspired colors—so it's no surprise that cool ocean blues and warm corals adorn her beautiful fabrics. But for those who prefer neutral hues to pops of color, don't worry, the designer hasn't left you out. In her new book Living with Color: Inspiration and How-Tos to Brighten Up Your Home, Atwood has dedicated an entire section to decorating with neutrals. The key: learning how to work with neutrals so they look rich and interesting. If you love white, sand, and charcoal hues, but don't want a design that will feel bland, here are the pro's tips for making neutrals feel anything but boring. Blah rooms, be gone!
Think About Texture
If you want to decorate your space with mostly neutral hues, texture is key to keep it from feeling stale. "If you're using a narrow range of color, think about matte and shine, textured linen, velvet, pattern, and embroidery," Atwood writes in her book. In fact, a mix of contrasting textures can create quiet drama.
Use a Range of Values
Just as contrast in texture adds visual interest, so does contrasting values, aka the lightness or darkness of a hue. Mixing darker neutrals like charcoal with lighter grays or linen hues is much more interesting than an all-white space.
How to Choose (Non-Boring!) Neutral Paint Colors
"I think when you’re choosing neutral paint colors, you really need to consider the undertones of the color and how they will look in your home and the light you get there," Atwood says. "A gray with just a little bit of purple can read lilac in the right light." Follow Atwood's tips for testing out paint colors before you buy them, so you'll have a better idea of the color's undertones and how it plays with light.
Shop These Designer-Approved Neutrals
Want to simplify the decision-making process? Opt for one of Atwood's favorites, below.
Materials: marble, light maple wood, terracotta, stone, and irregular glazed ceramics.
Paint: "White Pepper from Valspar is a beautiful gray with a hint of purple to it. And Pink Ground from Farrow & Ball is peachy and perfect for a bathroom or any other room where you want a rosy glow." Atwood says.