Sat | Nov 27, 2021

Decorating with neutrals

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2020 | 12:00 AM

DECORATING WITH neutrals is quite popular and can result in classic and interesting rooms. Whites and off-whites, greys, browns, black, taupe, ivory and even shades of green, such as olive, can provide the perfect backdrop for other elements in a room to shine. They are quiet and laid-back, and so allow interesting furniture pieces, art and accessories to express themselves in confident ways.

Using neutrals can be a bit tricky, however, as when not handled carefully, they can result in boring rooms. In order to avoid this, you must pay close attention to a few things:

- Colours: Avoid using just one shade of a colour. Mixing shades of the colour and/or other neutrals will make your room decor much more interesting, bringing it to life. Incorporating some black in the decor will help to ground the palette. A pop of colour in accessories, distributed carefully, will add some drama. It is important not to overdo this as your aim is to keep the room as neutral as possible.

- Art: Neutral walls and rooms are ideal for displaying an art collection. In this kind of setting, the art gets the chance to stand out.

- Texture, texture, texture: This is even more important in a neutral room. Soft, smooth, woven, shiny, rough, tone-on-tone – all these help to lift the decor to a new level, adding warmth, even without colour. All these textures can be played out in throws, cushions, jars, rugs, fabrics, baskets, even books!

- Furnishings: In choosing furniture, include one or two oversized pieces which make a statement, creating impact on the entire decor. A few striking pieces of accessories will also do the same.

- Plants and flowers: The inclusion of healthy plants and fresh flowers in a neutral setting adds a natural calm to the space. Don’t overdo this, however, as these need to stand out or fit in almost like works of art.

- Contrast: This is key when creating neutral rooms. For example, white or ivory or grey will look good when paired with rich, dark wood furniture pieces. Interesting shapes become important and are highlighted in a neutral scape, so include these in furnishings and fabrics. Be careful! Everything in the room doesn’t have to be striking, nor is it about competition, as too much of any one thing will rob you of the calm feeling you are seeking.

- Lighting: Incorporating different sources of light in a neutral room works well with the other elements to add sparkle to the décor. Hanging lights with interesting shapes, pulling together a combination of metal, wood, crystals or glass, provide not just shades of lighting, but also interesting pieces for the eyes to view.

Architectural details stand out in a room with neutrals – mouldings, wood trims around windows and door openings – quietly make their presence felt, yet adding stateliness.

Neutral rooms are classic and restful. When done right, they will not appear sterile and unfriendly but instead, warm and relaxing.

- Fay Wint is an interior designer and editor of HHG Magazine