Think neutral colour schemes are boring? Design yours with a twist.
Do bland beiges and drab greys come to mind when you hear the word ‘neutral’? It’s true that the word translates to a colourless shade. However, when you get creative with neutral colour schemes, you’ll open the door to a whole new world of dynamic design. The secret is in combining neutrals successfully, with an exciting twist on the side.
Balancing warm and cool neutrals
Just like orange feels warm and blue feels cool, the undertones of neutrals contribute to the ambience of your space. As a general rule, it’s best to pair the same undertones together. Warm neutrals feature brown, red, orange or yellow undertones and cool shades offer a hint of blue, green or violet. So, when you’re considering neutral wall colours, use one or the other.
For example, if you love grey and want a calming yet refreshing feel, combine shades with blue undertones, like Gallant Grey with Frosted Steel, rather than greys with brown or yellow undertones, like Warm Truffle. To add a hint of warmth to cool greys, introduce accents or accessories featuring a pop of zesty orange or mustard yellow. With that in mind, some neutrals are so flexible they can look both cool and warm, depending on the colours they’re combined with!
Now, let’s add an eye-catching twist.
Frame the scene
How would you like a twist of Luscious Lime to offset your neutral design with a refreshing burst of colour? Against a warm neutral like Egyptian Cotton, this is a brilliant way to frame kitchen or bathroom windows, fireplaces, bed frames or any feature you’d like to highlight, by making it the focal point of a room.
Splashes of bold, cool colours like green also ensure you achieve the right balance between cool and warm in neutral home décor. To really make the colour pop, add a vase or an ornament in the same hue near your bold feature colour.
Do you have fabulous tiles that shouldn’t have to share the spotlight in the kitchen? Let them take centre stage with a wall painted in a rich neutral, like Shaded Stone. This way, your tiles won’t have to compete with other shades and their showstopping appeal will have maximum impact. To polish the look, match or contrast crockery or decorative items with the colour scheme.
If you don’t have tiles, enliven neutral wall colours in the kitchen with texture. Fixtures like wooden shelves or metallic ornaments add depth and interest. When you’re painting instead of retiling, use Dulux Endurance+ paint for a long lasting finish that repels splashes and spills.
Layer for effect
What if you love neutrals so much that you want to saturate your room with muted hues? To achieve an all-neutral design without bordering on bland, layer a variety of tones. This creates a harmonious appeal that translates to pure sophistication. The best neutral paint colours for a tonal design are varying shades of light and dark, like Waxed Wood and Angora Blanket.
Get as creative as you like with block colouring to enhance different shades and exciting, deep tones for trim. To accessorise, tie the room together with items that include some or all of the neutrals you’ve used. A little bit of contrast goes a long way towards balance, so highlight your muted scheme with bright white or cooling grey statement pieces. For visual interest, use a variety of textures in cushions, rugs and natural materials.
Surprise with shapes
To break up neutral colour schemes, introduce a fun vibe with shapes in complementary shades. For example, on a fresh White Cotton backdrop, choose a range of pretty pastels like Marble Swirl 5 and Sumatran Melody 4, a darker neutral like Fossil Trace and a bold highlight of Sun Dust 1.
Be as crazy as you like with the shapes! Choose triangles, circles, rectangles or hexagons, line them up in a row or go completely random - it’s up to you. Either way, to tie the look together, add some accessories in similar tones. If you prefer a more subtle look, use neutral tones in similar shades instead of pastels or brights.
Feature wall art
Take neutral room ideas up a notch by channelling your inner artist. For a fabulous, two-tone feature wall, choose a pale shade like Golden Light for the upper half and a rich Smooth Maple on the bottom. Use the lighter half of the wall as your canvas. Stencils help you paint whatever you like, from soothing circles to flowery motifs.
Choose tonal shades for the artwork if you’re going for a subtle look or splash out with bright colours for contrast. As with most neutral colour schemes, natural wood looks fantastic with the design as it adds depth and textural contrast. Finally, for warm tones, introduce a breath of fresh air with white bedding, curtains or sofas.
Are you excited about your neutral room ideas, but not sure how to work with what you’ve got? Download the free Dulux Visualizer app to take the first step towards your neutral design - and don’t forget the twist.